Author: Chaowen Yuan, MS.Ed, RCC, Clinical Counselling Associate at Allius Services

After reflecting on part 1 of this blog, it’s important to consider another perspective in this discussion: pursuing your passion is not meant to be all about YOU. Other people matter when exploring your potential careers and passions.

Let’s be honest, we can try our best to enter a line of work that fits our personality, lifestyle, expectation of income, or even our newly found, hard-won inclination. However, there will always be negative parts about that job or line of work, it’s inevitable!

Maybe the coworkers are difficult to communicate with, maybe the community members are not appreciative of all your efforts to help them, or your budget is not enough to meet your team’s goal. These are not uncommon problems that people encounter at work, and some of them even lead to people quitting. Surprise!

The truth is our world is not only imperfect but full of challenges and suffering. If your work involves dealing with people, I guarantee there will be miscommunications, challenges, or issues throughout your career. Just like our world, careers are imperfect as well, there’s hardly anything that you will be able to find that can 100% tailor to your passion and expectation.

While this sounds like a negative view on careers and passions, having the knowledge about the pros and cons will help you choose a career you can be satisfied with long-term.

Once a family friend told me all the problems about her work, long commute, a lack of sense of achievement, coworkers are not fun to hang out with and a dozen more…Want to  know how I responded to her? I said bluntly: “It's so unfair to your job. You’re expecting all your needs to be met through your workplace. Of course, you are unhappy because it’s impossible.”

Sadly, many people find themselves in this "Mission Impossible" mindset by changing jobs every few months or few years. However, meeting all our needs is not the main reason why work was created in the first place. The origin of occupation is to provide value to society and to solve problems for others while ensuring workers can put food on their tables.

In our extremely individualistic world today though, we often expect everything to revolve around us. The late Chris Peterson, one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology, often began his lectures by saying: “I can sum up positive psychology in just three words: Other People Matter. Period. Anything that builds relationships between and among people is going to make you happy.”

Take being a photographer as an example of how other people matter, consider this: What if you want to be a photographer not only because you like taking beautiful photos and all the cool techniques that come with it, but also because you can provide personalized services to marginalized individuals and give them a voice through your work? Then, you realize that there are other ways to empower people through arts and other forms of services.

If happiness and fulfillment are ultimately what we are looking for, relationships and positive influence are the resources we should strive for instead of self-centered pursuits.

During a career exploration workshop I offered to high schoolers in Vancouver, one parent who attended with her son said that her passion is just to travel around the world, not to care about anything else but to enjoy the experience. She asked me how to turn that into a career according to what I had shared so far in the workshop. I gently reminded her that there needs to be some value provided for others. If there is a benefit to more than just herself, then there might be a way to blend her interest of traveling into a business or career. But she insisted that there’s no purpose behind it or values to others, just her enjoyment.

Now, fast forward almost two years, I would say to her in a more straightforward way because that’s a classic misunderstanding of passion and career. Well, go for it if it’s something you can afford to do and enjoy. But this is not the passion that we’re talking about here. You’re talking about enjoyment, a hobby, retirement, but not passion at all. Not the passion that we would like to offer to serve the people in the world, using our gifts and talents to solve meaningful problems. We can’t just label things on the bucket list as “passion” because “we like it”. They are two totally different creatures.

You might say, what about the influencers who travel around the world and still make lots of money out of it (that might be what she was thinking too)? Well, this article is getting too long so that’s a story for another time. But in short, think of still working regularly on vacation, having your laptop open and working by the beach 8 hours a day; you might have an answer already.

In conclusion, passion is not only a subject or a one-time event, but much more transferrable and sustainable as an inclination and motivation, something strong enough to move you to do hard things, and faithful enough to travel alongside you on this journey of life, something hopefully you will use to serve others in this imperfect world and many imperfect workplaces.

After all, the original definition included suffering. But as many like to say, follow your passion, and success and happiness will follow.

Wishing you discover your true passion and act upon it.

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