Often I ask my students in class: What is your true passion in life?
I ask my students this at least once per semester, when they have an internship preparation session prior to their semester away working on a marketing department in a company.
The purpose is simple: To motivate students to only do their internships on industries they are passionate about.
And you know what? Interestingly, there are a great deal of students who have NO IDEA what their passion is. And I don’t blame them.
One reason: they were never asked. I think, generally, we are not asked this question enough. Has anyone ever asked you this before? Personally I don’t remember having been asked when I was a kid, neither in school nor in university.
Career decisions are often based on factors such as such as salary and social recognition. Personal involvement and passion are not often the starting point of the discussion. But they should be!
Happiness: Balancing Pleasure and Purpose
In the extraordinary book “Happiness by Design” by Paul Dolan, Professor of Behavioural Science at London School of Economics, “Happiness” is defined by the balancing of two factors over time: Pleasure and purpose.
Pleasure relates to activities that are purely hedonic. When doing them, they give us pleasure. But if done repeatedly over time without purpose, they lose meaning. For example: Going to a party is fun, right? But what about partying for 10 days straight? At some point you will get bored or demotivated as there is no purpose on that activity. Continuing it will tend to unhappiness.
Purpose relates to activities that we engage in with an utilitarian motivation. For example, someone working on a bank with a great salary but without any passion for it. At some point, despite the great salary, the person will feel unhappy. Why? Because there is no pleasure.
So the secret is to find an industry that you are PASSIONATE about. This way, you will be able to balance pleasure and purpose. And after time, will have a much greater likelihood of achieving happiness.
How Can We Find Our Passion?
This is a very tricky question. But here are some tips I like to suggest to my students and that hopefully can be beneficial to you:
1. Check Your Browsing History
We spend hours online every day on different devices and our online behavior implicitly describes much of our personal interests. If you have a look at your browsing history (e.g. The list of sites you have visited on your browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla), what is the general trend? Which topics are recurrent?
When laying on the couch or in bed, do you visit sites of sports? fashion? food? travel? cinema? animals? decoration?
Without social pressures or professional expectations, we tend to gravitate towards information that simply gives us pleasure. Have a close look and you will be much closer to the field of your passion.
2. Recall Fond Memories
If you look back in your life, which moments gave you the fondest memories? What were you doing when you felt the happiest? Was it while doing a specific activity? Perhaps in a specific country?
Our positive memories also reveal much about us and our interests. Being objective about them, trying to identify patterns of behavior will indicate to us what makes us happy. This can a way to reveal to you what your passion is.
Ps: In case you cannot identify these memories, try having a look at personal material that can elicit memories, such as photos, diaries or personal objects. Using visual stimuli can help elicit memories and feelings.
3. Discuss With Family and Friends
Interestingly sometimes things are clearer to others than they are to us. Your passion can be obvious and you haven’t realized it. And this is a very normal pattern of behavior.
For example, when you are having conversations with friends and family, which are the topics that you currently bring to discussion? What are the topics you like talking about?
You may not know, but there might be a clear patter of behavior. Ask your friends and family and for sure they will know which topics you are permanently discussing.
In case you are someone constantly talking about cinema, well, how incredible would it be if you worked in the film industry?
Think about this!
4. Seek Professional Help
There are numerous professionals specialized in helping individuals find career paths. The so called “career coaches” have achieved great success in recent years by advising young and senior professionals to discover positions that bets suits their personalities and preferences.
The Muse, for example, has a very helpful section on career coaching.
5. Be Honest With Yourself
Often students tell me they are passionate about contexts that they are shy to admit. For example: video games, alcohol, fashion, wellness or music.
Some believe that working or being involved in such fields is not “serious or professional enough”. The same students consider that pursuing a career in industries such as banking or sustainability is more socially acceptable or honorable.
So Be Honest With Yourself and Embrace Your Passion.
If what you truly enjoy is make-up, football or food, why would you work in anything other than that? It would make no sense. The normal interest you have will take you much further, will give you extra motivation to keep developing yourself and have independent initiatives.
Over time, it is obvious you will have a much greater likely hood to succeed.
Conclusion: Choose A Marketing Context You are Passionate About
One of most interesting aspects of developing your studies in marketing is that you can pursue your career in any context you would like: Music, sports, cinema, cosmetics, automobile, food, whiskey, health, and the list goes on.
Choosing a context you have little interest or you are not passionate about, simply makes no sense whatsoever. Do not lose time doing so.
Take time to reflect on your personal interests, check your browsing history, talk to family and friends, recall fond memories and be honest.
Once you know or have a clearer understanding of your passion, start looking for positions ONLY in companies related to your passion. If you are passionate about football, how wonderful would it be to work for a large club such as FC Barcelona or for a sports apparel company such as Nike?
Remember: You can build the future you want to have.