Nomad & Roots

Stop Trying to Find Your Passion (Grow It Instead)

2018-08-06 Comments Off on Stop Trying to Find Your Passion (Grow It Instead)

Stop saying you’re searching for your passion. Why? Because thinking about passions as a scavenger hunt makes it less likely you’ll find one!

In an upcoming paper in Psychological Science, Stanford researchers show that mindset matters when it comes to talking about passion. People who say they’re finding their passion are more likely to end up passionless. Meanwhile, those that say they’re developing their passions often end up with more than one.

The scientists surveyed students beliefs about passions and classified them into either “finding” or “developing” groups. Through a series of questions about how the students would react in different scenarios, they found patterns in how the different groups reported that they would respond to a hardship related to their passion. Finally, they showed students to an engaging video about black holes, after which the participants rated how interested they were in the topic – most were fascinated. Then, they had them read a slightly more difficult article about the same topic; passion “finders” generally reported that they had lost interest, while passion “developers” still wanted to learn more.

The problem with finding your passion?

It implies that passions come pre-formed, that all you have to do is find this one magical thing and then everything will be easy. It also frames your passion as something you have no control over.

People with this expectation often think that when they finally find ‘the one’ passion, they will have endless motivation and face no obstacles. They assume it’ll be easy. When they find something they’re interested in, they ride the wave of excitement and tune all other potential interests out.

Then they hit a roadblock, and the passion falls apart. When people who are finding their passion run into the inevitable first obstacle, they are more likely to give up entirely. The would-be passion has lost its shine; it must not be “the one.” A little defeated, they start up the search again. And since they’ve been ignoring other potential passion opportunities, they find they’re starting from scratch.

Instead of searching for your passions, cultivate them!

The study found that for people developing their passions, the opposite results were true. They explored lots of interests, and even when they found one they were really into, they didn’t stop learning about other things. They expected to face obstacles and were more likely to push through them when they occurred.

As a result, these people are more likely to have long-lasting interests that grow into passions. When they do abandon an interest, it is often so they can spend time on another passion they’ve already identified, rather than giving up and starting over.

The real difference between finding your passion and growing it?


Yup, EVERYTHING comes back to mindset.

The Stanford researchers noted that each participant’s views about passion correlated with their mindset.

Passion finders demonstrate what is known as a fixed mindset. They believe that their abilities and interests are fixed traits that they have no control over. They think they are either smart or dumb, talented or inept, and if they struggle with something once, they assume that they will always be bad at it.

Passion developers have a growth mindset. These people believe that talent is just a starting point and they can do anything they want to do if they dedicate themselves to learning it. If they struggle with something, they know that with a little work they can be great at it in the future.

Growth mindsets are powerful because they are true! We are limitless beings, the only limits we genuinely face are the limits we impose upon ourselves. If we believe that we cannot get better at things through practice, we are likely to prove ourselves right.

So tell me, are you growing your passions, or trying to find them? What mindset are you allowing to shape your life?

If you want to cultivate a growth mindset, but don’t know where to start, head over to my Offerings page and let’s chat!


Mindset coach and creative, currently rooted in Washington, DC.