Here's Why "Find Your Passion" Isn't The Best Advice

Photo: Carina König

"Find your passion" has become standard self-help fare, but new research suggests that that advice misses the point: Finding fulfillment is actually more about understanding the nuances of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.

The study, published by researchers at Stanford University and Yale–NUS College in Singapore, found that people who have a fixed mindset—that is, those who believe you are born with a permanent set of inherent traits and skills—tend to be less curious and motivated in life compared to those with a growth mindset, who understand that discovering interests is a part of the process.

The directive "find your passion" has infiltrated self-help culture in a way that is less than helpful, according to the researchers. People are essentially being told to sit back and take the passive approach to exploring likes and dislikes rather than actively pursuing the things that make them spark. It would be much more helpful to advise people to develop their passion instead of just happening to find it.

According to the researchers, pushing "find your passion" is a more passive approach that only fosters a fixed mindset, which can lead people to abandon interests upon the first sign of difficulty. Encouraging a growth mindset, on the other hand, leads people to stick to different interests and make room for curiosity, learning, and motivation.

To be clear, the findings don’t completely discourage folks from pursuing that one thing they're passionate about—the researchers are just suggesting that whatever it is will likely be discovered through trial and error, so people should be prepared for that.

Moral of the story? Adapting a growth mindset opens up space to make new connections so that you're not just happening to "find" what makes you spark, but you're actively developing it every day.

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