Motivational speakers, self-help books, and even well-meaning friends and family are constantly bombarding us with well-meaning advice like “follow your passion and it’ll all turn out” or “find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” but where does that leave those of us who like our job okay, but don’t exactly feel lit up by what we do?
Learn to be ‘So good they can’t ignore you’
In So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, author and assistant professor Cal Newport, Ph.D., outlines just that: why do we exhaust ourselves trying to find our true passion or purpose if we already have the natural skillset and experience in a given field?
While, sure, being outwardly passionate about your career is wonderful; something the majority of fluffy self-help books will push you to pursue, So Good They Can’t Ignore You makes a serious case for following your existing skills and learning to love what you’re already really good at.
That’s not to say that you should stick at a job you loathe just because you’ve mastered the art of the 9-to-5. In fact, what Newport outlines in his fourth book is quite the opposite: harnessing the ability to enjoy where you are by focusing on the enjoyable aspects of your job or the field that you’ve found yourself in.
Rather than spending your life feeling guilty that there’s nothing you’re all that passionate about or worrying that you’ll never find that one specific thing that sets your soul on fire, So Good They Can’t Ignore You makes a case for all those hungry people looking to feel fulfilled exactly where they are right now.
The best way to find that fulfillment?
Newport suggests pretty much just picking something that you’re reasonably interested in and are already good at—it could even be your existing position or job field… but with a new perspective. From there, it’s on you to focus on acquiring more of the skills and characteristics in your field while actively seeking out the best parts of the job and re-energizing yourself (and your work) in the process.
Think about it like this: constantly being hit with career advice like “follow your passion and it’ll all work out” from friends, family, and even self-help books, causes unnecessary stress and spirling—especially if you’re at a standstill wondering what to do about a job you like but doesn’t make you feel like jumping out of bed with glee every morning.
If this kind of mindset sounds familiar, Newport suggests that it should come as absolutely no surprise that you’re not lit up or enjoying your career—the burden of finding your passion ensures that your current position remains passionless.
Newport doesn’t just challenge the idea of pursuing a passion but actually suggests that passion can be found within your existing skillset—if you’re willing to adjust your mindset and seek out the good in what you already have while cultivating your skills even further.
Whether you’re so worried about finding your passion that you’ve forgotten to be grateful for where you are in your career, you feel guilty that you’ve never found said passion, or you just want to beef up your self confidence and feel more energized in the workplace, this anti-self-help-book is worth a read.
Newport’s main takeaway
Newport’s invaluable advice within the pages of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love will help you realize that it’s very possible to cultivate your existing skills, get ahead in your career, and finally let go of the niggling feeling that you need to seek out a passion in the workplace in order to feel fulfilled..