Passion will reveal itself

For students who are fretting (or parents who are fretting on their students’ behalves) over trying to identify their passion so they can select a career and choose an appropriate college major, consider giving Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love a read. Newport makes a convincing argument that (1) “follow your passion” is actually bad advice, and (2) passion comes after you put in the effort to become excellent at something valuable, not before.

Yes, you should listen to your interests and strengths as you know them today (a student who’s always struggled in math is less likely to find joy and career success as an accountant). But you don’t yet know what your passion will be when you’re 22 or 32 or 42. Don’t rush it.

Put in the time, effort, and interest as you find your way through subjects, opportunities, and work that make sense at the time. The passion will eventually reveal itself.