If you have a career, you can probably recall tons of career advice people have shared with you over the years. You don't think about those tips every day, but they're still in the back of your mind. You might even fall back on them when making a major, career-defining decision.
One of the most persistent tips is perhaps one of the most dangerous: Follow your passion. I know this might come as a shock, but I don't tell my clients to do that. Sure, I encourage them to understand the role passion plays in their careers. But I spend my time helping them figure out their purpose and their genius instead.
If you really want to know if a job is right for you, you need to consider those two data points: your genius and your purpose. Once you hit those two things, then passion is just the cherry on the top.
Want to learn more? Here's a rundown of what your passion, genius, and purpose really mean for your career.
Passion is defined as "any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate." Exciting, right? Well, that's the good news. The bad news is that passion can be fleeting.
The problem with letting what we're passionate about dictate our career moves is that our passions aren't always meant to sustain us on a long-term, daily basis. Yes, knowing what you're passionate about is wonderful when it comes to identifying things you enjoy or love. But because passions can be fleeting, they're not the most important factor to consider when making career decisions.
I'm not saying you should take a job that you have zero interest in, but I am saying choosing the one that speaks only to your passion might not get you where you want to go. If you do follow your passion, as people love to recommend, don't be surprised if you lose that excitement down the road. Soon you may find yourself stuck in a job that offers you little more than a paycheck.
Figuring out your genius--your superpower that sets you apart and keeps you engaged and challenged--is much more important than following your passion. Your genius involves the kind of thinking and problem solving that keeps you in your sweet spot; this means you're challenged in a good way. Knowing and following this information guarantees that you will consistently be intellectually satisfied with your work.
When you choose a job on the basis of passion, you're likely to lose that sense of wonder and excitement. But when you go for a position that uses your genius, you'll find yourself in the zone more often than not.
And isn't that what we all want? We spend too many hours at the office or on the job to feel like it's an unrewarding and uphill battle. Do yourself a favor and find your genius.
Despite what you might think, your purpose is very different from your passion. Unlike your passion, your purpose is more concerned with the type of impact you want to have.
Your purpose answers the question, "What fulfills you?"
Many people are surprised to learn that their purpose is often tied to a core challenge that they've faced in their life. For example, maybe you deeply understand the pain that comes from having a lack of support because you never felt supported by your family. Therefore, supporting others is probably deeply meaningful to you; it fulfills you in a way that following your passion can't.
When you choose to base your decisions on your purpose, you're maximizing your potential to have the impact you were meant to have on the world. As for making a career decision, all you have to do is ask yourself, "Will I have the opportunity to have the impact that fulfills me if I take this job?
If the answer is no, you're in the danger zone of considering a job that does not tap into that source of endless motivation.
Take it from me: You're much better off finding a job that requires you to use your genius and allows you to have the impact that fulfills you than you are choosing one that speaks only to your passion.
If you can find a job that hits all three, you've got something wonderful in front of you. But if you have to choose between several options, I hope you choose not to follow your passion. Focus on your genius and purpose instead.