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The Search: What exactly do we want to do in life?

Image by Lucas Sankey

We all know the secret to a good life: "Find your passion and pursue it!!"


As it turns out, this is terrible advice.


If we think about it, finding your passion makes several questionable assumptions:

  • that you will know what your passion is once you... "find it"

  • that there really is only 1 passion and your job is to keep searching for it

  • that "this passion" is something within you which doesn't change 

  • that once you find it, you are set for life. Everything magically falls into place

None of this likely to be true. To begin with, research from Stanford shows that 80% of people do not know what their passion is.


"Finding" your passion focuses on the "finding". But how do you know if you have "found passion?" It's difficult to determine. Do Olympic swimmers decide after 10 swimming sessions that swimming is what they would dedicate their lives to - along with getting up every day at 5am to train before school/work, going back to the pool after a long day, missing out on all social gatherings, and putting in huge distances in the pool repeating the same motion over and over again for years and years? 

Instead of "finding" our passion, "we have to actively develop it. Or as Angela Duckworth, psychologist and the author of "Grit" puts it, “Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening. Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare."

In the link belows, explore Bill Burnett and Dave Evans' excellent "Design your Life" program, with a series of concrete steps to take as find and develop interest and expertise in an area. 

Also of critical importance, is that life's meaning doesn't need to come from work. Your "passion" could obviously be fulfilled elsewhere:

  • Explore Jesse Itzler' concept of a life resume. As we obsesses over a work-resume, what about a life-resume? What experience do we want to clock up in life?

  • From the "Learning the Life Stories of others" page, you can read about what life stories other folks have chosen to write.


How to Design Your Life?

We covered how "passion" is not a useful concept. So how can we successfully design our lives? This perceptually oversubscribed course at Stanford provides us useful direction


Don't just build a work resume. Work on a life resume.

We obsess over making our work resumes better. What about our life resumes? What experiences do we want to clock up outside of work?


Learn from the life stories that others have written

What stories have others chosen to write? Why did they choose what they did? How did they make it work?

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