You’ve heard every successful person say it – just follow your passion and you will succeed in life. But what if you don’t have a passion? Does that mean you’ll never be successful? In this article I discuss what’s wrong with the ‘follow your passion’ statement.
“Follow your dreams” or “Do what you love and do it often” are all different phrases for the same thing: find what you’re passionate about and do that, as much as possible. It will be amazing, it won’t feel like work and you’ll be the happiest you’ve ever been. I’ve always felt slightly annoyed with this statement, and scared at the same time. Because like many other people (I suspect), I don’t really have a passion. I have a lot of little ‘likes’ but I don’t have one great ‘love’ (apart from my man, of course 😉 ).
I’ve always felt envious of people who know what they want. All they have to do is go after it – how easy is that? Of course, the road to a certain dream or goal is never easy (otherwise we’d all be doing it), but at least you’re going somewhere and people admire you for it. But what about all those people who don’t have a clear goal in mind? Will they just wander around life, aimlessly, without every finding happiness? That just doesn’t sound right to me.
Like many, many others, I just finished reading ‘Big Magic’, a wonderful book written by Elizabeth Gilbert. She writes that she doesn’t believe in telling people that all they need to do is follow their passion and “everything will be fine”. In fact, she writes that it can be an “unhelpful and even cruel suggestion” as many people don’t know exactly what their passion is. She also adds that if you don’t have a clear passion and “someone blithely tells you to go follow your passion, I think you have the right to give that person the middle finger”. I felt like jumping for joy when I read that passage. Finally, someone who acknowledges what so many of us feel. Someone extremely successful, I might add.
I don’t think we all have a passion and those who do are very lucky. That doesn’t mean that people without a passion aren’t passionate people. I am very passionate about my blog, for instance. For me, this blog is the perfect outlet, because I don’t have one single passion. One week I’m crazy about vegan food, the next I want to write about the summer, meditation, or rope jumping. I have so many different interests that I cannot imagine focusing on just one. This is one of the reasons I revamped my website from food blog to ‘health & happiness platform’. This gives me room to write about so much more than just food and that makes me very happy.
Follow your curiosity
Elizabeth Gilbert offers a simple solution to the ‘follow your passion’ issue. Stop focusing on what you’re passionate about, and focus on what you’re curious about instead. Curiosity is much simpler than passion and doesn’t ask the question what are you passionate about, but is there anything you’re interested in? I love this! We are all curious and interested people, we can’t not be. Now, these curiosities and interests may change, but that’s okay. Find something that holds your attention, even if it’s just for a moment. Elizabeth refers to this as a ‘clue’. Follow this clue and all the clues that come after that. These clues may lead you to amazing places, to your passion or nowhere at all.
“You might spend your whole life following your curiosity and have absolutely nothing to show for it at the end – except one thing. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the noble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life”
Elizabeth Gilbert is a genius and she couldn’t be more right. Maybe all my little likes together are my one great love. She has made me so much calmer about where my life is going. We should all forget about finding our passion and start focusing on our curiosities instead. What are you curious about? What interests you, even just a little? Do that – focus on that. And everything will be fine.