Are you still looking for your passion in life? If yes, what should you do? Keep looking? The old saying says, if you choose a job that you simply love to do, you will never work a day in your life. Not everyone is at this point. For some, it takes years to find that job and they might find out that they don’t even like the job as much as they dreamed they would.
According to new research from Stanford University, looking for your passion is the wrong way of thinking. You should instead develop and work on your own interests and keep an open mind.
Finding your passion often suggests that your passion is somewhere out there waiting for you to be found. Still, passions and interests are something that can be developed over time. Two opposite ideas exist in psychology: fixed theory and growth theory of interests.
The psychologist behind the growth theory is Carol Dweck. According to this theory, even intelligence is not a fixed trait and it can be improved with time. Her research has seen some controversy lately when she claimed that children who have a growth mindset have better results in school compared to children who have a fixed mindset. Dweck conducted research in five experiments with 470 college students as participants who helped with finding if the same principle of fixed/growth mindset is applicable to passions.
In the first experiments, researchers asked participants to identify as lovers of science and technology or as fans of arts and humanities. Additionally, researchers had the participants fill out questionnaires to find out about their Big Five personality traits, focusing on openness to experience, whether they are fixed or ready to grow when it comes to their passions and interests. All participants read an article on both topics (science and technology and arts and humanities) and reported their level of interest. Those who had a more fixed mindset were less interested in reading an article that was not initially in the area of their interest.
In the next set of experiments, the students watched a simple series on the Stephen Hawking theory about black holes and then they answered questions on how much they were interested in the theory. Only those who agreed with a statement: “What I learned in the video was fascinating to me” were part of the next experiment which included reading an academic and complex article on the topic of black holes. From simple series to a difficult article, researchers measured will the interest of students in black holes shift. Those who were in the group of those who had a fixed mindset lost interest after reading an academic paper.
The study suggests that if you believe that your interests and passions are fixed, you tend to close yourself from interests that you might develop over time. Or if you think that the day when you will find your passion your difficulties will be behind you. In that case, you will less likely overcome challenges even if they are in the area of your interest.
Being able to connect to different interests is more important than ever. In a press release, Gregory Walton said:
“Many advances in sciences and business happen when people bring different fields together when people see novel connections between fields that maybe hadn’t been seen before. If you are overly narrow and committed to one area, that could prevent you from developing interests and expertise that you need to do that bridging work.”
Staying open to many areas might help you find interests that you did not know that you have. Keep your eyes open to passions that are waiting to be developed.