The Passion Deception: Beyond What You “Like”

Last week, I wrote about how the idea of “passion” can overwhelm us into unrealistic future prospects. I actually got some good feedback from readers, which leads me to believe that I am certainly not the only one with this experience.

But if you’re a high school student – or otherwise at the threshold of choosing a career – you might wonder, WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ME? If you have been told your whole life that you need simply to do what you love (and you’ll “never work a day in your life”, yada yada yada), you might not know HOW else to choose a path forward.

My suggestion? Ye ole’ trusty mindmap.

Many of ours (mine included) may have looked something like this:


When in reality, it probably should have looked something like this:


How do you do it? You combine things you like and dislike, and then you explode them. For me, I needed a career that would never stagnate. One where I could do research if I wanted to, but at the very least one that was constantly changing because of others’ research. I also knew that I loved science, but especially anything pertaining to the human body. I loved reading and writing, but it was important for me to decide whether I wanted that to be part of my career or if I wanted to keep it as a cherished activity for my down-time. I also knew that I wanted to see the world, but had to decided whether it was important for me to do that as a career or to earn enough so that I could travel recreationally.

Of course, it’s a very simplified mindmap, that can be massively more detailed if one were to spend more time on it – and if you’re someone busy with deciding what to do with your future, you should definitely be willing to spend time on your decision.

My point, to reiterate: what you like/love/are “passionate” about is important, but only as a starting point. It should get your mind whirring. It should help you to exclude career options that are totally out of the question. (For example: I was really good at Maths, but I kind of hated it, so a career in Actuarial Sciences was out, out, out.)

And remember: it is highly unlikely that you like only one thing, so being open with yourself about those likes and dislikes will only assist you in identifying more appropriate choices.

There is a lot more to this discussion – including the role of income – so eyes peeled: I’ll be back!


  1. estemarks says:

    This is definitely something to think about. People often think “I want to be happy, I want to be happy…” and get to college and take an eternity to finish because they haven’t found that “one thing that makes them happy.” The reality is that happiness is only a small part of what we choose for our life’s goals/dreams/purposes. I wish this could be a part of like a high school seminar for seniors or something 🙂 GREAT POST!

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you agree 🙂

  2. koharjones says:

    wish i had these conversations when i was deciding–there SHOULD be required courses EVERYWHERE on “how to make good decisions for a happy life”

  3. serend1p1ty says:

    This is great! I may just create my own “mindmap” just for kicks to see where I was at before I decided on medicine.

  4. harveylisam says:

    All wonderful thoughts! I definitely did not put that much thought into it when I decided to pursue a career in medicine. I mean, I’m glad I chose what I did, but still. I think there are other things I would also really love to do.

  5. koharjones says:

    Just came from Steve Rose’s blog, a sociologist who just wrote a great post on passion in work:
    he makes great points!

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Oh cool! Thanks for sharing the link – it’s spot on!

  6. Aimee says:

    Love this! I think some “experts” tend to oversimplify the idea of passion, which leaves people feeling like failures when things don’t fall into place so easily. The jobs I have loved the most have been the ones where a few of my passions converged. There was no single thing that made the job great, it was the combination of everything combined. 🙂

    1. barefootmegz says:

      Oh, ditto. I think the best jobs are those where you are innovative to combine things that make you happy. Good for you!

  7. penguinanne says:

    hey! i’ve done so many versions of this throughout med school and the mind map seems to keep growing every time and i feel so overwhelmed and scared at the end (generalist at work =p) BTW, if you still rmb me im a final yr meddie from malaysia who contacted you before bout the possibility of doing an elective in SA, the plan didn’t work out thou as I got too lazy and decided to spend some quality time with my family instead! =) still planning to visit in the near future, had my ward partner from bots so maybe i can combine these places? =ppp Thanks for helping me and you have been so helpful and sorry for getting back to you late! =) keep in touch!! ❤

    1. barefootmegz says:

      The map SHOULD keep growing – that’s a good thing!

      I do remember you, and I also seem to remember that things got a bit busy and I might have not replied to your last mail (sorry about that). International electives are really hard to plan, so no hard feelings at all. Would love for you to visit in the future though and let me know if you go to Botswana because I’ve never been and would love to go, hehe. Keep well, girl!

      1. penguinanne says:

        haha its okie! =) thats the thing about being in the medical line especially in our countries, the workload and stuff (assuming that its about the same from the way u describe it)! will start working in Malaysia mid april, excited yet nervous!! =) your blogs helped a lot since you are always a step ahead of me hehehe

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