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Ask Ramit: How do you choose ONE passion?

33 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

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When I graduated from college, I was working on 9 projects. NINE. I was doing a startup…I was working on an ebook…I was doing this, I was doing that. People’s eyes would glaze over when they asked me what I did.

My problem was I didn’t know how to choose. I didn’t want to close the door on all these other interests of mine, and it’s not like ONE was the overwhelming choice. I liked them all.

The code words I used were very telling.

I would say “it can’t hurt” — it can’t hurt to dabble in a bunch of things and find out what I like, right?

Actually, IT CAN HURT VERY MUCH!!

I learned this — and I learned how to choose your passion when you have too many options.

Watch my answer in today’s Ask Ramit video.

Christina: “How do you figure out what job to look for when you feel like a sea of options are in front of you? Specifically, how do you know what you want without trying every job in the world?”

Watch the video to learn:

  • How to learn about a company (or even entire industry) without having to spend 5 years working there (1:52)

  • How to find and approach people that can give you inside info on a career choice — including the specific questions to ask (2:16)

  • A quick but powerful mental framework to make your job search more productive than 99% of job seekers would (3:05)

Question for you: How does it feel to not be able to choose from multiple passions? Comment  below and be specific, please. I’d love to hear your story.

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33 Comments

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  1. I think it would be awesome to be able to have a clear picture of what you need to do for work. One of my goals is to choose better. I feel I’m forever refining this. I know I’ll never be perfect. I can get closer to my goal. An specific example is that I was in the middle on a new option for my career path. I finally talked to a co-worker. Realized that it won’t make a difference in pay. I was told that I would make “twice as much money if i choose to be a school psychologist instead of a teacher.”so that makes me question what the other person said. Some people’s opinions was that I would be very good at it. I can be very good a quite a few things. That cost me quite a bunch of time, to be specific –more than four, five months. I am learning that I only so much time in a day. Even now I am thinking about what about “flexibility” and on and on. if I don’t decide and test out my beliefs I’ll be in limbo.

  2. Finding your passions can be challenging for a lot of people. Try a lot of things and if you are just starting out in your career, you can try 10 different things because if you don’t try you will not know what you like best.

    Instead of looking for a specific task or job that you enjoy, try to find an underlying theme among a variety of things that you find interesting.

    Everyone has a mental picture of what their career “Should” look like and this is the most challenging thing to let go even if you have some sort of understanding of what your interests and passions are.

    I can tell you 1 thing though – when you know what your passion is, it is like being in love. You just know. It is like your psychology and physiology and everything else become aligned.

  3. Thank you for this. I have always been one to jump from hobby to hobby, passion to passion. First it was writing, then it was singing, then it was cooking, then it was writing again.. maybe I should become a singing songwriting chef! Just kidding.

    Career wise I have never had a clear idea of what I want. I would have to say that it feels frustrating. It felt as if I’m making up excuses to avoid doing something, and honestly I feel pretty lousy about the whole situation in general. So like the person who asked the question, I’ve started exploring different career options. Incidentally the same ones, selling, teaching.

    The thing is though, I’m not sure you can get a handle of what a job is REALLY like unless you get at least a control group of like 3-4 people to ask about how the job is like.

    And even if you get told what the daily tasks are, and what surprised them the most, and other things.. who’s to say that YOU will like or dislike it. I tried telemarketing, it was kind of funny at times, but I just felt a bit iffy about the general concept and the product was a bit overpriced… so I ended up quitting.

    And unfortunately I’m not even sure what I want my job to be like. I have vague ideas like creative, and well paid, with many independent projects.. etc. Even when I really ask people about what their job is like, I end up just as confused as I was before asking. Do I want to do the job? Do I not?

    Hmmm… ugh…

  4. So I moved to LA two months ago to pursue editing in the entertainment industry (film &TV). I’m finding it really hard to break into even an entry-level job, even though I know I’m qualified!

    While I’m meeting with people and making contacts, I still have to have a way of making money so I’m marketing all the skills I have: photography, graphic design, editing, videography… But I can’t help but feel like people are confused when they ask what I do. ‘I have my own business,’ I tell them, ‘where I do all of these random things!’

    I definitely want to edit, but is it wrong to market myself as multi-talented? Could that actually be hurting me?

  5. (Previous comment website link didn’t work)

    So I moved to LA two months ago to pursue editing in the entertainment industry (film &TV). I’m finding it really hard to break into even an entry-level job, even though I know I’m qualified!

    While I’m meeting with people and making contacts, I still have to have a way of making money so I’m marketing all the skills I have: photography, graphic design, editing, videography… But I can’t help but feel like people are confused when they ask what I do. ‘I have my own business,’ I tell them, ‘where I do all of these random things!’

    I definitely want to edit, but is it wrong to market myself as multi-talented? Could that actually be hurting me?

    • I suggest you get a mentor, find a area of editing where you really like, and practice the hell out of it, make demo tapes that is awesome and fit your style of editing. Hollywood is a small world. Very hard to get in. But once you get in you’re in. So, yeah you don’t want to talk about your other skills if you want to edit only. (for any job you apply you only talk about the one skill that CAN HELP the company hence they hire you then). I suggest you read alot more on this Blog. You can get in though many different ways, once you work in the same building where the editing room is that’s a good start.

      Cheers.

  6. Awesome! Your timing and this topic could not have been better for me.

  7. How does it feel?
    Confusing and complicated, at times.
    Frustrating, most of the time: when I feel I’m leaving off my daily activities so many things I wanted to do – and at the same time feel I’m not progressing fast enough or reached the level of ability I consider satisfying, with the ones I did.
    Still it’s so hard to focus just on fewer things!

  8. Cal Newport, who wrote “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” would argue first that you need to master a valuable skill, and by the doing of that skill, your passion for it will grow. Taking an inventory of your skills and maybe brainstorming about the problems those skills could solve, could be a start.

    Also, think about the kinds of people you want as co-workers or customers, Where do they hang out or congregate?

    I heard someone describe the job search as similar to dating. You don’t marry someone after the first date (though it could happen). Typically, you date some people, you spend a longer time with someone, then you decide it’s time for a long-term commitment, etc. Job hunting is kind of like that — use Ramit’s techniques for talking to people, visiting workplaces, getting a feel for things — spend some time shopping.

  9. This topic drives me crazy, so I have to thank you Ramit to talk about it. I feel like I have several problems; first, the choices are huge; second, the fear about making a mistake and doing something you hate; third, that you might like something you don’t know/ cannot imagine you like it (can anybody imagine how being a shaman is? you might love it!).

  10. I love making and creating, and have since I was three years old. I taught myself a lot of crafts and art things, which all came easily to me. As a college freshman, I took an art class for fun – and every one of my projects was put on display in the “normally senior art majors only” art center gallery show!

    I *so* should have become an artist! But instead I listened to my mom, who said “art is fun but it doesn’t feed you. Be something practical.”

    So here I am, decades later, doing the same work I did to put myself through college with that “practical” degree, and basically earning the same amount, too, when you adjust for inflation.

    In the past couple of months I’ve learned spinning, and weaving, and am discovering that I am a natural at it! So I’m looking for a loom to buy, and at doing custom weaving. Eventually I’ll earn enough from that, that I can become an artist supported by my art.

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