Opinion 6: Follow your Passion?

Is Curiosity Better than Passion when Choosing a Career?


There’s a common saying that currently floats around. Follow your passion. You’ve probably heard that one before. Whenever students (and adults) ponder their future job prospects those three words somehow often seem to follow close behind.

But does following your passion work best? And if not, what’s the best option?

Recently, I’ve been listening to the advice of other leaders in various industries while internalizing various perspectives and many disagree that following your passion is a worthwhile endeavor. Some preach that practicality is the best bet —going with the job that pays the most and merely gets the job done.

I disagree with that idea.

Sure, being an engineer, a lawyer, or doctor might bring in more money than other careers. But will more money make you better off?

I don’t think so.

I believe that money has its own trade-offs. Perhaps you’ll trade personal satisfaction? Or maybe you’ll damper a relationship with your partner or offspring?

Here’s my perspective: it depends on what you want. If you live solely for the money then perhaps those careers would be best. However, if you live for adventure or wish to highly express your creativity, you might want to consider a career option that allows you to consistently pursue that (and not just in your spare time).

Perhaps, though, the answer overall isn’t to choose the job that is the most profitable, the most practical, or the one born out of passion. What if curiosity is the answer? Rather than seek passion in your career, what if you seek a career that inspired you to constantly learn and adapt?

Now, maybe you think that passion and curiosity are the same things. While there very well could be an extreme overlap, I would say that overall, the two are dissimilar. For example, let’s say your passion is collecting stamps or perhaps swimming? That’s great but are you truly curious about it? Is it stimulating enough to sustain you for 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

Remember, passion is an excessive enthusiasm for something.


Consider an alternative.

You love physics. Perhaps it’s not a passion per se but you do enjoy the innovations that come out of understanding physics and its different branches. Each time you discover something new you’re interested in learning something else. With no effort, you’re willing to read about physics and delve deeper into the key figures within the science. Furthermore, a career in physics could be sustainable. It could allow you to enjoy the necessities.

Conclusively, you’re curious and the career path is viable. You don’t mind learning more about it whenever you can but it’s not a burning obsession. You’d much rather be collecting stamps 24/7. But which is the better route?

My reasoning is that passion can fade once money becomes the objective. If you love collecting stamps for the sheer enjoyment that’s fine. But what if I asked you to build a sustainable and profitable business for it?

That would require tons of research, a step into uncertainty, and a high chance of failure which could cause your passion to be far less enjoyable.

Could you handle the anxiety and uncertainty?

Would you be able to handle potentially having little to no money while trying to learn how to turn your passion into profit?

Is the burden of trying to sell your passion worth the probable lack of social support and potential ridicule?

When something you love doing as an excessively exciting hobby becomes work, there’s a high probability that you’ll begin to devalue it. You would no longer be doing it for yourself but rather for the money. Your ability to put food on the table would hinge on your ability to produce income with stamp collecting.

But what if you were always curious about something? Perhaps you’d find yourself always requesting more? Additional profit will become an added bonus at that point but it wouldn’t be the definitive goal.

Sure, it’s possible that stamp collecting could overlap as a passion that you’re highly curious about. Perhaps you’re more than an avid stamp collector. Maybe you’re also like to trade rare and valuable stamps. Possibly, you’ve researched every stamp ever created while filling tomes of stamps. Maybe you actually have the biggest stamp collection in the world. Anything and everything stamps, you MUST know about. You’ve even decided to go the extra mile. You want to create your own stamps.

To that, I’d say congratulations! You’ve successfully turned your curiosity AND passion into profit!

But are you an extreme outlier or are these results typical? Can every stamp collector who is just as passionate (but not as curious) replicate these same results?

Earlier, I mentioned swimming as a passion. Likely, many of you might have thought about Michael Phelps or perhaps other athletes. And you’d be right to do so. Swimming certainly does seem like a passion of Michael Phelps but I’d argue that it certainly overlaps into the curious side too.

Michael Phelps trains often and has dedicated an extreme abundance of time and effort into his swimming. He uses his resources to learn more about swimming and how to optimize his abilities. It trickles down into the food he consumes and his personal lifestyle.

It’s important to keep in mind that while you might be equally passionate, you might not be as driven (which I’d argue is a necessary factor if you choose to be pro-passion). You might not be willing to give up the early mornings and the long hours that it takes to successfully make a living with swimming. You’re just not that curious. It’s also important to note that there are likely many other swimmers that are just as passionate, if not more passionate, about the sport but couldn’t be Olympians (not everyone who wants to be an Olympian gets to be an Olympian).

In any case, these are just my opinions as usual and personal perspective. I have nothing against the idea of people seeking out passion in their careers. I wish that everyone could seek fulfillment from their passions and live a flourishing life. I do, however, believe it’s important to consider different perspectives in order to craft the biggest, most objectively sound picture possible. I’d love to hear more from you guys and what your personal opinions are! As usual thanks for reading and stay positive!