Flowing side note

Not a part of my actual flow series, but intrinsically related…

After taking my first degree I sort of wandered about a bit and was tempted to go in many directions and eventually chose to move far away and take another degree in something completely unrelated. At the time, my decision came as a surprise to many, and I got some pretty harsh reactions. One of the worst went along the lines of “I never saw you as being passionate enough about [my new field of study]” and continued to question my motives in accusatory tones.

What I should have read then and what I certainly should have made people read then was this. The lesson I take away from it? It’s okay to do, and to want to do, things that you aren’t necessarily “passionate” about. Interested, motivated, curious, yes – but there’s no need to become obsessed.

That just made me feel a whole lot better. That and the faint glimpse of an idea about where to go from here, arrived at last night. And the knowledge that in just over a week I’ll be able to start winding down for Christmas…ahh. Have a great weekend – wintry weather and all!

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One Response to Flowing side note

  1. Tuomas says:

    Well, I read the column, but I’m not sure if I find it quite accurate. Debating about whether passions are a priori or not seems to be completely beside the point. The column ends with a quote from this Newport fellow who just says ‘pick something that interests you’, but surely that was the original problem! The whole thing just begs the question, as for most people the problem is coming up with something that interests them *enough* to make them willing to do that the rest of their lives, or to be motivated enough to pursue a career at any rate.

    Now, I read ‘passion’ simply as a particularly strong interest towards something. Sure, it may come later on, or it may not, but deciding what one wants to do should in any case take into account a whole number of variables besides one’s interests. Having an interest is, I would say, a necessary condition for choosing a certain career path, but one should also take into account practical aspects: what are the chances of getting a job, where does one have to live to pursue that job, what is the salary like (yes, it matters too!), does one have all the required skills, and so on. Of course, all these variables are related to one’s other ‘passions’ or goals in life, but that’s just the point: we’re dealing with a complex set of beliefs, hopes and desires, and what we are looking for is the best way to accommodate at least a majority of them.

    Ultimately this is a question of directedness. Often people are unsure about one or more of the related variables and that makes them hesitate. I find it naive to conclude that anyone would hold passions to be a priori — one’s interests are surely defined mostly by the environment.

    Well, I’d better stop already, it just seems to me that the column you linked to was exactly in the lines of the worst self-help guides: no concrete advice was given. Saying that finding one’s passion is ‘surely an intrinsically personal process’ hardly helps to demystify the notion. Indeed, that makes it sound a priori!

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