Follow Your Passion, Is It Applicable to Everyone?
Careers or goals, in general, are either a way to express one’s self or simply a means of survival. As we reach adulthood, we realize that we may not all have a specific talent. A special gift that we were born with and should harness our life for it as we used to believe when we were young. When you were a kid, how many times were you asked ” What do you want to become when you grow up?” countless times for sure.
Now I believe that there are two types of people when it comes to this topic specifically. The first type of people who see their jobs as a way to get money and fulfill their needs in life. They do not consider other factors like passion or interest. The second type, on the other hand, are those who have the desire to pursue a career path that can give them satisfaction and help them express themselves. They see jobs as a lifestyle and a goal, not just a means for financial security and a stable life.
If you belong to the latter, I think we can divide it into two secondary categories as well. Category a, and they are those who are born with an innate talent that they may neglect and give up on. Category b are those who do not know what they can offer to the world and what special skills they can acquire. So they may face indecision. With time I figured that I belonged in the second category, which made me do a lot of research about this career choice journey because I needed to understand it well.
Do You Acknowledge Your Talent?
We all know someone who is clearly talented or passionate about a hobby. It could be art, writing …etc or passionate about a field like medicine for instance. Through that passion and dedication, you can tell that this person is meant to be a doctor. However, there are also those who have the potential and the desire to pursue this passion but they, unfortunately, let go of their dreams and lower their hopes and aspirations either to cope with social expectations, their unsupportive environment, or simply out of fear.
The modern schooling system generates an attitude of passivity among students. Many creative students have to kill their creativity and ignore their dreams at a young age. Because for society, these talents are not enough to make a profit from and to depend on for a living. These fears have been implanted in our minds for so long that we can see their effects. For example, most people adopt a passive attitude towards life and follow the control of the collective norms and outer circumstances. They choose to stay in the supposedly ”safe” path by pursuing a career choice that does not allow them to reach their potential and express themselves. They are prone to regrets later on with time.
Based on my observations, these people know what they want deep down, yet they give up on their dreams because of the fear of taking risks. They know that in order to chase what they want, they will have to face challenges that come in many forms. So they choose the safe path instead of following their dreams. Later on, they start regretting their false choices and live in despair. In order to escape that despair, they deny the responsibility of their decisions and claim that it was against their will. They blame their wrong life choices on external factors like fate or society.
Mastery Is the Key
This attitude may come from what is called ”The Fear of Greatness.” When someone is overwhelmed by all the steps and efforts that he has to overcome, or afraid that he will not be able to handle its pressure. How can we solve it? by choosing Mastery. Naturally talented people have a strong potential of reaching greatness, but talent alone is not enough for this. It requires years of sustainable practice and efforts in order to attain the desired level. Instead of looking at the whole ladder, focus on the next step in front of you. Divide your major long term goal into small short term goals.
The path to mastery is usually overlooked because people have this deep-seated conviction that outstanding performers were born with an innate gift that determines their ability without making any effort. It is undeniable that the talent here is necessary, but it is pointless without practice. Just like a seed that has the potential of growth, but is still useless unless it is used and provided with the right care and efforts to turn into something bigger and more fruitful. This belief that talent is everything required to rise to the top is what impedes many talented people from reaching higher levels. So in order to acquire expert performance, constant practice is a must.
Observe and Step Out of Your Comfort.
Now the way to know if someone has talent is by observing their interests, especially at a young age. Their talent may appear in the initial stages of their performance when they engage in a craft or any other activity that clearly shows their abilities. This type of people pick up some skills easier and faster than others. What determines if they can nurture their already existing potential, is the time and the deliberate practice.
However, a lot of people stop at a certain level because it becomes their comfort zone so they do not risk it by trying to learn new things. They should work smarter, not harder. For example, an artist should try new techniques in order to improve even if his work is not satisfying at first. Otherwise, he will be stuck at the same level. Working smarter aims at pushing you beyond your limits to reach a higher level.
Discovering talent comes from experimenting in different fields. Though, it usually shows up from a very young age through our interests and observable skills like drawing for example. A very important point is that you should not procrastinate or postpone the process of mastering that skill or interest of yours. A lot of people tend to think that they should not start working on their goals unless they were free from anxiety, depression or any other negative state, which is wrong. Once you proceed, nothing else will matter and your improvement will actually make you feel better.
What if You Do Not Have a Specific Goal?
Now how about people who do not necessarily have a strong talent? Life is so unpredictable and a few people stick to their childhood dreams. I used to think that everyone has it all figured out and they all know who they aspire to be. So I have always wondered, what is my special gift? what if I choose the wrong path while I could have chosen a better option? I felt guilty for not having that mind-blowing talent that was a clear sign of my destiny. The pressure was overwhelming because after all, I am responsible for my life. If I take the wrong path out of the countless paths in front of me, there is nobody to blame but my wrong judgments. That idea alone was enough to give me anxiety for months.
It took me a while to realize that this glorified idea of having one main goal to harness all of my life and energy for does not necessarily apply to everybody. So for the sake of taking that major decision of my life, I had to consider many factors. First, I had to select all the fields that interested me, even slightly. Then I had to see which ones fit my nature more, like introversion or extroversion, practical or theoretical…etc. This step requires a high level of self-awareness and studies about yourself. You will have to dig deeper into your nature.
Then I engaged myself in activities that are related to my interests. Because theoretical possibilities can not determine if this field suits me or not, so experimenting is necessary.
You will have to try and see if it works for you through activities, training and even volunteering. Here you do not have to excel in it, because there is always room for improvement. That is the point, to choose one thing out of what you can and want to do and focus your energy on it. Through experimenting, you can see if this brings you joy or not! Also, think about what makes you reach the ”Flow” state. Flow is when you are completely absorbed in the moment and enjoying what you are doing even if it is tiring. It could be anything you do in your life, for me it was writing. Contemplate it and try to link that to your future goal, ask yourself, what is the thing that you can do for free?
If you are still stuck between some choices, remember that as long as you took the previous steps, there is no wrong or right option because all the available options are fulfilling at this level. Besides, choosing an option for your career plans does not mean giving up on your other interests! I chose my major, but I am still working and trying to improve my skills in other fields. There is time for everything, just choose your priorities right. Once you settle on any option, embark on the journey to learn, improve and master your field without looking back or any regrets. Make a system or a plan to keep you focused and disciplined. Do not feel pressured to find it early, we all have different timings and paths. Success does not have special criteria as long as you are happy doing what you like.
Do Your Best and You Will Reach Your Goal.
Now whether you have an inborn talent or not, remember that it is up to you to give that much value to your career or not. As I said before, not everyone is that stressed about finding the right career. It is okay to have other goals in life that are not related to the professional domains. However, if you want to pursue a career that suits you, you can notice how both cases require one main thing which is effort or intense practice. Without them, it would be nearly impossible to upgrade and live your life to the fullest! It is exhausting and not always enjoyable, but it gives meaning and a sense of satisfaction. Because overcoming challenges and improving is rewarding and longer-lasting. After all, through the process of reaching the desired goal, we shape our characters and destiny.
If you still have not figured out what you want, it is okay, it is not an easy process at all. Keep searching until you find your thing.
Author: Hibat Errahmane Hadjadj.