Struggling to 'find your calling'? Here's some advice.

'Personal interest and self-transcendent purpose are the dual engines of intrinsic motivation'

Recent graduates are more likely to find success if they "foster" their passions as opposed to following them, Angela Duckworth writes for the New York Times.

Duckworth explains that discovering your passion is not usually a sudden epiphany.

"As a psychologist who studies world-class achievers, I can say the reality of following your passion is not very romantic," she says. "It takes time to develop a direction that feels so in-the-bones right that you never want to veer from it."

She offers the following advice to recent graduates for navigating the path to passion.

Take your time

Duckworth reassures recent graduates that it's OK if they don't know their career path yet. Interests are developed over time through exploration and experience. Even renowned chef Julia Child didn't realize her love for French cuisine until later in life.

Duckworth also encourages recent graduates not to fret if their first job isn't a perfect fit.

"As I said to one young man who, on the cusp of his first real job, was paralyzed by indecision: 'Don't overthink it. Move in the direction of something that feels better than worse."

Find purpose

When thinking about a career path, asking, "In what way do I wish the world were different? What problem can I help solve?" is equally as important as, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"

Duckworth recommends that recent graduates write down what or who is most important to them as a way to focus on their core values. It is also helpful for people to imagine what they would most like to be remembered for in their eulogy. 

"Self-oriented motives like interest and other-oriented motives like altruism are not mutually exclusive," Duckworth says. "In fact, personal interest and self-transcendent purpose are the dual engines of intrinsic motivation."

Excel at your first job

A first job sets the basis for future goals and opportunities, which is why it should be taken seriously.

Duckworth encourages recent graduates to stick to their professional commitments and put forth their best effort. 

Seven ways to rekindle your passion for your job

"Work as hard on your last day as on your first," she says. "No matter where you go next, you have an opportunity to make the most of where you are now" (Duckworth, New York Times, 6/4). 


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