Does your current position seem like a dead end? Are you looking to take your job or career in a bold, new direction?
If so, conventional wisdom would say to first make sure that you’re clear on your passion and purpose, and once that passion hits you, the opportunities will follow. Cal Newport, the author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love, has a different take on the subject.
He recommends that anyone seeking a better job or new career should put skills, experience, and value ahead of passion and purpose. In fact, Newport believes that passion and purpose are emotions that come after expertise and experience. You find them by getting great at something and doing great work.
To advance in your career, Newton recommends taking the focus off passion and purpose and putting it squarely on mastering your work. Once you put in the time and effort towards mastery, you’ll become more valuable to your field, and that value transforms into the passion and purpose you’re looking for.
The Craftsman’s Path
Newman also believes that great careers are earned, not found. Moreover, they can only be earned when you have rare and valuable skills to offer.
Whether in business, sports, music, or anything else, the top performers all have one thing in common – a relentless dedication to practicing their craft. Day in and day out, they continually work to develop their talents and push their skills to higher levels. Their feelings of passion and purpose may ebb and flow, but the drive to continually get better remains steadfast.
It is this continual effort to improve, says Newport, that makes you more valuable. By building skill, experience, and value, you earn a great career. This process of building on your skill and value allows you to also build on your “career capital.”
Spend Your Capital Carefully
Career capital, which is the sum total of your experience, skill, and value, may seem intangible, but it has real value in the marketplace. The time to spend it is when you decide to change jobs or careers.
Quitting your job to get a better one in the same field should be relatively easy if you’ve built enough career capital, but if you’re planning to leave your job to follow your passion (i.e. do something totally different), don’t think you have to throw away your career capital and start all over. Instead, find ways to use the value you’ve built up to help you transition into a new field. Use your reputation, experience, and expertise to open doors, make connections, and find new opportunities that fit what you’re looking for.
Same Goes for Newbies
If you’re just entering the workforce and looking to find your passion and purpose, the same rules apply, says Newport. Focus on building your skills, expertise, value, and reputation first. Once you have built on strengthening those attributes, you’ll realize your passion and purpose in your industry have slowly manifested and shown themselves in your work over time.
If you’re not sure where to go or what to do with your career, you can always join Ideator to meet people, browse new ideas, and see how others have built their career capital. Who knows – you might just find the perfect outlet for your passion and purpose.