Full disclosure: I’m a millennial. Obviously, I’m writing this piece from a trendy coffee shop packed with bearded hipsters wearing sleek-cut shirts, while drinking a $7 frappe macchiato, and listening to alt rock on Spotify. Generations are clichés, and millennials catch a lot of flack for theirs. But we’re also characterized by our determination to live with passion. We care deeply, and we want to translate those passions into professions that can provide value to us and to the rest of the world.
Millennial lore is dominated by stories of individuals who channeled their passions into purposeful careers that provided everything they could hope to attain. But translating passion into a sustainable career might be stressful, especially if you don’t have one and the world around you is just screaming “find your purpose, finally!”
But… what if I don’t have a passion?
You won’t know until you try.
Contrary to stereotypes, millennials are a skilled generation. In fact, we are the most educated generation in history with 40% of millennials attaining an undergraduate degree. We’re described as tech-savvy, connected, multitasking fashionistas. But without being tech-savvy, well-connected social media fans we’re also lost.
“The whole world is yours”, mamma would tell you as you were growing up. And you truly believed that.
“Find your passion. Realize your dreams. You can do anything!”, grandparents would encourage as you’d just scratch your chin contemplating on what is it that you’re meant to do.
But what if you’re not meant to do anything – what if you have to learn stuff, get good at it and that’s how you’ll realize your purpose?
Millennials have a buffet of educational opportunities including public and private colleges and universities offering both undergraduate and advanced degrees that cater to millennials’ desire to be equipped for all types of work. The problem with our education is, that we are teaching kids the things we are aware of, for the professions that don’t even exist yet. A dubious proposition.
In the workplace, millennials are entering the job market at a time of upheaval and change. Millennials can choose between careers in large corporations, independent startups, non profits, open work spaces, or work from home. These diverse options exemplify the broader array of choice including housing (urban or suburban), lifestyle (vegan and organic), values (secular or religious). The opportunities are endless, and finding a fit that matches your passion feels like inverse career Russian Roulette in which one option will fulfill your passions, but you won’t know until you try. This is a crippling idea.
Even more to that, add a whole bunch of unexpected circumstances that shape us in one or another way and – here you go – you have the full package.
Here is some news: it turns out that passion doesn’t necessarily create purpose. Our greatest passions often arise as a result of personal skills, life circumstances, professional opportunities, and the diligence to stick with something long enough to see a product. In other words, passion is a rewarding result rather than a path to follow.
Therefore, instead of stressing out about matching passion with purpose, just do it. Do something. Anything.
When growing up, I wanted to be 1,000 different things, starting with a salesgirl and finishing with an athlete. The thing is, I was never good at sales nor was my physique built to compete against others in professional sports. I started working at the age of 15 as a marketer, helping a small local company and was trying to realize what is it that I was meant for. In a while, I got my first promotion and a raise, after that – a position change and then, completely randomly, I was offered a job in another company.
My work satisfaction raise along with my responsibilities and I ended up having a well-paid, well-respectable position. Most importantly, my hobbies and wishes did not come true, but provided me with the ever-burning lust to discover, experience and say “yes” to new things I wasn’t even aware I am capable of.
From there on, my work became my passion instead of a so-praised reverse way.
What’s your passion? You don’t have one? No worries.
Utilizing your skills, persevering through seasons of doubt and finally embracing the opportunities by saying “yes” more often are enough to get you where you want to go. We millennials are an eccentric group, but we have a lot to offer. We will find that we are passionate when we are pursuing and that we don’t have to understand our passions to begin the process. And that journey of self-discovery is quite an amazing one.