Back to school is around the corner - for some it is the first day of kindergarten and for others it is the last first day of university or college. In our society there is pressure to find the one thing we excel at and turn it into a successful career. During our educational endeavors many of us have encountered the phrase ‘find/follow your passion’. This means that one day our passion will fall into our laps with the assumption that we will have limitless motivation for it. A new study has found that this is not the case.
In Western culture ‘find/follow your passion’ and ‘find something you love to do and you will never work a day in your life’ are statements that are seen and heard a lot. If you think about the repercussions of the latter phrase, it means that if you do something that feels like work it means you don’t love it. Many of us who hear these statements think that when we find our passion we will be flooded with emotion or some sort of epiphany will occur to reassure ourselves that ‘the’ passion has been found! However, it usually doesn’t happen that way. Passions aren’t found, they are developed.
A new study with college students focuses on the difference between two mind sets: growth theory and fixed theory of interest. Fixed theory of interest means that core interests are there since birth and are waiting to be discovered while growth theory is the idea that interests are something anyone can develop over time. The study found that students who have fixed theory of interest might skip interesting lectures or opportunities because they don’t align with previous passions. This mindset can also cause people to give up too easily on new interests when it gets difficult. On the contrary, people who have a growth theory mindset are less afraid of failure because they believe intelligence is developed not inherited. So how can you cultivate a growth mindset?
If you are looking for a job, try and expand your horizons beyond the opportunities that are an extremely good fit from the start. You may not find your perfect career but you may find that you grow to fit the job better over time and realize there is more than one way to attain a passion for work. This could also be said if you feel frustrated or stuck in your current position. To develop a growth mindset with your children, set an example for them. If you just started a new hobby or interest, stick with it even when it becomes difficult. If your child is in extracurricular activities encourage the completion of the season or year if they start to become uninterested. Beyond that, there’s not a clear way to develop a growth mindset about interests, other than knowing that it’s a valid way to think, be curious, and be open to a passion that might still be around the corner!