My friend sent me an article from the Harvard Business Review blog yesterday that defines the problem facing Generation Y in three words: “Follow your passion.”
It’s a variation on a well-worn argument — basically we’ve been told our whole lives to set huge expectations for ourselves and pursue our dreams, and then we received a rude awakening when we grew up, graduated college with tons of debt and moved back into our parents’ house with very little hope of a comfortable independence right away or a stable well-paying job where we can actually do what we love — both things that seemed to be promised when we were starting out.
Cal Newport, the author of the article and a professor at Georgetown University, writes that the problem is just that, the misplaced expectations that “following your passion” will automatically — and immediately — lead to success.
Good point. But to the adage “follow your passion,” I’d like to add a few more well-meaning pieces of advice that I heard over and over again growing up:
“The sky is the limit.”
“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
“Never settle for anything less than the best.”
It’s not that this isn’t good advice. I love that I didn’t grow up with a cap on my dreams. It’s just that they only tell half of the story.
What I’ve come to realize too late is that we’ve been fed a paradox. Our parents, teachers, coaches and counselors told us to “go for it,” but they also gave us some other, albeit less-emphatic, advice.