Why can't I follow my passion

Working lifeWhy passion doesn't matter in the job

“Find your passion” - for the psychologist Gregory Walton of the US elite Stanford University, there is hardly any worse career advice. "What a crazy thought," Walton told The Atlantic magazine. He and two colleagues have investigated the potentially negative consequences of having a career fixated on personal preferences. They warn that the search for that very special passion can blind you to real career opportunities.

In their experimental set-ups, the researchers examined two schools of thought. One assumes that preferences are more or less innate and can therefore be discovered. In the other, interests grow and are cultivated. Walton, Stanford Professor Carol Dweck, and Yale University psychologist Paul O’Keefe wanted to know: Are people more narrow-minded looking for their one true calling?

Think outside the box

The psychologists tested their theory on a number of students. They first filled out a questionnaire that assigned them to one of two interest groups: mathematics / natural sciences or arts / humanities. The math camp then got an article to read about the philosopher Jacques Derrida, and those interested in art were able to enjoy reading about the future of algorithms. The subjects were also asked whether they think that interests do not change over time. Those who agreed with this statement found the non-essential reading less exciting than the basically open-minded test persons.

In a second experimental set-up, the students were initially informed about one of the two schools of thought (interests remain the same for life / passions only develop). Then they received the article that did not correspond to their real area of ​​interest. Result: The participants who had read that preferences do not change found the article less interesting. So they were less open-minded.

Clean bill for laziness

In view of the results, the psychologists warn against developing blinders because of alleged passions in the job and ignoring new, exciting topics from the outset. According to the study, the focus on "heart issues" can also lead to a lack of work ethic. Many students from the “passion camp” stated that a passion is automatically accompanied by an inexhaustible supply of motivation. According to this logic, a task that requires effort and effort would simply be the wrong job for the person concerned. But with this attitude nobody gets really far in professional life - no matter how great the passion is.