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How to (Not) Find Your Passion: Stanford Alumni Association DYL Sneak Peak

This post is written by the fabulous Stanford Alumni team and originally appeared on Medium. The lovely visual above was made by the Stanford Alumni Association’s Internal Designer. Be sure to also check out the upcoming SAA Designing Your Life events around the US.

What should I be when I grow up? It’s a question that never really goes away. (Sigh.) You’ll still be asking it when you’re 30 and thinking about new opportunities.

… And when you’re 40 and thinking about changing careers.

… And when you’re 60 and thinking about an encore career.

It creates an anxiety we all have to get used to, but can be particularly stressful when making the transition from student to working adult. Bill Burnett, ’79, MS ’82, and Dave Evans, ’75, MS ’76, have taken helping you figure out what to be when you grow up to a new level with their wildly popular class, Designing Your Life. Here’s a sneak peek from Bill. . .

Looking to live a successful, happy life? Do away with these three dysfunctional thoughts.

I need a passion

“This notion that you have a passion and you follow it, I think is one of the most destructive ideas that anybody talks about because the research says less than 20% of [people] actually know their passion and how to fulfill it.”

“We find that most people find their passion by working into something that then becomes the thing they are passionate about.”

What I studied dictates my career

“[People] believe their major’s going to determine what they do for the rest of their lives, which isn’t true. Ten years out of school less than 20% of people are doing anything that has anything to do with their major.”

This job choice will plot my trajectory forever

“This generation will absolutely have at least two completely different careers, maybe three. Because this may be the first generation to work 70 years past college. Look, it doesn’t matter where you are — you are here. And from here we can’t navigate to your future because that’s not possible. We don’t know where your future is yet. But we can do what we call way-finding and we can run prototypes. An internship is, in a sense, a prototype. Shadowing a doctor for a day and seeing if you really want to be a surgeon is a prototype. It’s living in the world of the people who are doing the thing you think you want to do.”

The great thing about being grown up? You get to make the decisions, and you can always change your mind.