This summer I took a preparation course for my thesis project. The purpose of the course is to help graduate students select their research topic. I entered the class not knowing what to expect. Honestly, I don’t think anyone in the class understood what the project would entail. A lot ambiguity was traveling through my mind. What is a thesis? How do I choose my topic? What are my options?
Over the course of a month, my professor addressed these questions. Week after week, my colleagues and I shared ideas, provided constructive feedback and revised our original thoughts. I must have revised my original idea five or six times. However, by the end, I found a topic that excited me. I took my professor’s advice; I picked something that I wouldn’t get bored or burnout writing about after a couple of months.
Lesson #9: Find a career you love.
If you work full-time, it’s likely that you spend the majority of your time awake at your job or at least thinking about it. Whether you work to make a living or work to climb the corporate ladder, it’s a fact that you will be working for the majority of your life. That’s why it’s important that you do something you enjoy.
Your career coach or professor has probably told you to find your passion. Passion is one thing, but love is another. See what I mean by reading some of the descriptions of the words in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) Online.
- “The sufferings of Jesus in the last days of his life, from the Last Supper to his death; the Crucifixion itself. Formerly also in pl;”
- “A painful disorder, ailment, or affliction of the body or a part of the body. Freq. with distinguishing word. Obs;”
- “As a count noun: any strong, controlling, or overpowering emotion, as desire, hate, fear, etc.; an intense feeling or impulse. Also personified;”
- “A fit, outburst, or state marked by or ofstrong excitement, agitation, or other intense emotion. In early use also: a fit of madness or mental derangement;”
- “Strong affection; love. Formerly also in pl.: †amorous impulses or desires (obs.)” (OED Online, 2005).
- “As a count noun: an instance of affection or fondness. Also: †an act of kindness (obs.);”
- “In religious use: the benevolence and affection of God towards an individual or towards creation; (also) the affectionate devotion due to God from an individual; regard and consideration of one human being towards another prompted by a sense of a common relationship to God. Cf;”
- “An instance of being in love. Also in pl.: love affairs, amatory relations;”
- “As a form of address to one’s beloved and (in modern informal use) also familiarly to a close acquaintance or (more widely) anyone whom one encounters. Freq. with possessive adjective;”
- “gen. An object of love; a person who or thing which is loved, the beloved (of); a passion, preoccupation” (OED Online, 2008).
Both passion and love have connotations that I would never use when discussing career advice. However, passion is one’s drive and love is one’s satisfaction. A Silicon Valley start-up looks for a person who is passionate about innovative technology. The person they find has that passion, and may be looking for a challenge, but also is looking for a company and a position that they love. That person is looking for something that makes him or her happy.
I’ll close this entry by saying find your passion, but, at the end of the day, make sure you love what you do. Life is too short to rationalize anything else.
Do you love your career? Share your story in the comments section.
“love, n.” OED Online. March 2008. Oxford University Press. 4 August 2014. <http://dictionary.oed.com/>
“passion, n.” OED Online. June 2005. Oxford University Press. 4 August 2014. <http://dictionary.oed.com/>