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Job passion comes from multiple sources

There is a long-standing belief that passion for a job comes only from finding one that’s “the right fit”. However, research from the University of Michigan finds that there is more than one way to love what you do.

The study’s lead author Patricia Chen says her team discovered that people cultivate passion either from finding their perfect job from the outset or from growing with the role and learning to love it. The two mindsets were termed as the “fit” and “develop” theories.

The researchers examined people’s expectations, choices and outcomes associated with these mindsets and learned that both groups are similarly effective at achieving vocational wellbeing. What differs is how they motivate people to reach their goal.

People who use the fit theory tend to seek instant gratification, an indication that compatibility is important to them. Meanwhile, people in the develop group sacrifice immediate happiness to focus on cultivating passion over time and tend to prioritise other job aspects, such as pay.

The findings, which appear in the recent issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, offer assurance to those who have not – or have yet – to find what they are passionate about; if you can’t discover your passion, you can learn to develop it.