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Screw Your Passion

_patrickgod profile image Patrick God Originally published at programmergoals.com on ・3 min read

Hi, I’m Patrick, and I suck at finding my passion. Do you, too? I’m sure you also always hear and read about finding your passion and how doing the stuff you love is so important. But what if you just cannot or just don’t want to stick to one single thing?

Let me tell you a bit about myself. I’m a software developer, former game developer, built my own indie game, I like to go on hikes and take photographs of beautiful landscapes and once or twice a week (or month) I manage to go to the gym. When I was young I tried to play the clarinet and the guitar, but failed miserably and then I thought I will be the next big house DJ. I even bought an impressive (not really, it was quite small) mix deck… of course, I never had a single gig apart from my dad’s 50th birthday.

I started and quit several gym memberships, I’ve been in a swim club for one year, I got wall bars to get fit and rarely use them now. I’m actually impressed by myself when I touch them from time to time.

Well, I could go on, but I think you got the point. The problem with this is, if you are trying too hard to find your passion, you will disappoint yourself very often and this can lead to a miserable or even depressing live.

But at some point, you just have to admit to yourself that there is not that one big passion for you. Maybe you don’t have that big vision for your life that you want to follow. And that’s totally fine!

Lately, it hit me. For people like you and me (I just assume you’re like me because you’re still here, which is amazing, so thank you very much!!), it’s not about passion. It’s about curiosity. We are curious. Curious for many different and many new things when they cross our paths. We try things out for fun because they are of interest to us. We enjoy them, and if we had enough, we move on. Nothing bad about that at all.

Not everyone has to have a big vision for her life. Not everyone has to have just one big passion. And certainly, not everyone has to change the world. Because that’s where this passion thing often comes from. So-called success stories about people like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk who found their passion and committed their whole life to turn their vision into reality.

Although great things can evolve in that process, it hasn’t always been healthy for them or their loved ones. Striving for your passion can have immense downsides and in turn can also make you unhappy, leaving your body, your mind and friends and family behind. Just take this into consideration for a second.

Try not to define yourself by one passion or by one ambiguous job title. Define yourself by you. You like many different things. One thing more than the other and that’s just great. This is your life, have fun with it and be happy with all the things you enjoy on your way of living it.

Take it this way. Albert Einstein said he was “passionately curious”. Makes sense?

So next time you feel guilty for not picking up your latest hobby (or your latest dev side project!), move on to your next one and do it with a smile.

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Patrick God

@_patrickgod

Into code as long as I can remember. First games, then web, now both. Located in the sweet Taunus-region in Germany. Always eager to learn, create and teach something new.

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We have a lot in common, and I always thought it is ok to have a new passion each year.

Only a few of them passed the test of time: development, gaming and cross country biking.

Passions keep you going trough this crazy stupid ilogical world.

 

True. Passions and curiosities. ;)

Good for you that you found your top three! :D

 

Is not my fault that they keep appearing in my life!

Also I've mixed them, I participated in my first MTB competitions while I was a Game Developer.

 

Haha, this reminds me of myself :D

I guess that's why I'm self employed and non-monogamous.

And being curious can be a passion too.

I mean, sure to have some kind of career you need a bit of grit to get one of those many interesting things on a professional skill level, but the rest can be on a basic level.

At the moment I take many online courses, just because.

Amazon Web Services, business strategy, game development, online marketing, etc. pp.

In some things I go deeper, in some I just want to be good enough that I don't make the common errors.

 

This sounds great. You know, this reminds me of being a child actually. Being a child that is just curious and eager to learn anything that comes to mind. A habit or behavior we definitely forget to early in our lives and we should get it back.

Too often we try to learn or do things that in some way make us "successful" - whatever that means.

And doing something just for fun seems to be a waste of time. At least many many resources on the web want to tell us that.

So, please, do more courses, learn more, I'm sure you won't regret it.

 

This sounds so familiar. Although I've found my passion my work as software engineer, I've had the same feelings about finding other interests and hobbies outside of work. Although I spent a lot of time on software engineering outside of work as well, I always felt the need for another passion.

In practice this meant fully going for something new and interesting, like playing guitar, photography, etc. for a few weeks or months and then losing interest. Now I just try and do the things a like, this can be the same for a longer period of time, or something new, it doesn't matter, as long as I enjoy it.

I love the vision you give that you should just accept it, because it really is okay! Just look at what you want, and if you don't know it, just try something :)

 

So true. :) It's exactly about that. Just try something and lose the pressure of sticking to one thing and mastering it. I mean, most of us are developers in this community. We already have this thing in our lives we spend a lot of time with and we're making a living with this (at least we try..). So, that's enough pressure already, right? We shouldn't pressure ourselves with other stuff just so we can say we are totally doing what we love and that's we are (or have to be) happy, although this might not be true at all.

 

Yep.
When anyone asks me if I have an ambition, I usually say, "to have an ambition". But I haven't got there yet. Everything is interesting, and there's nothing wrong with taking projects to 20% or 80% before leaving them behind. Maybe what we want out of the project isn't the end product but the experience, and if I've proved to myself I can do something 20% of the way in, the remainder is just make-work.

 

Absolutely. The trick is to not be disappointed by oneself because we lost interest in a project we only finished 20%.

The hardest part for me is, though, to schedule my time properly so that I can work on all the many different interesting things I have without losing track.

For instance, you have three side projects going, you want to finish them all, but one of them is that interesting, that you want to use all the time you have to finish it. But then, you may have lost all the motivation to go back to the other two. It's even worse if it's something public where you actually want to produce content consistently, like a blog. ;) I find it hard to write a post every week and also work on an indie game for instance. But, again, we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves..

 

Great post. Loved it! I found it highly relatable :) I've always been meddling around with different things. Always jumping to that "shiny precious" that I found interesting at that particular point in time. From development to music to video editing to what not.

It gets worse when I do the same thing within development, picking up a new language every so often. I have received constructive criticism, to become good at one skill. The general opinion being it's better to be a master in one trade than to be a jack of many. Being a junior level dev, deep down I know that I need to start learning something in depth. But sadly, I've never been able to focus on a particular project/language/anything.

I'd really appreciate it if you could throw some pointers on how to develop focus on one thing to gain a deeper understanding of it. Thanks :)

 

Thank you!

I'm afraid, I don't really have the perfect answer. I think it really comes with practice and.. careful.. don't be scared.. discipline. ;) But that's way easier said than done, of course.

I wrote some articles that may cover this topic:

Personally, side projects helped me a lot to don't lose focus. When I find something, just one little thing, a tiny spark, that might interest me, I need to think of a side project I want to create totally by myself. That way I can learn on my own pace, dive deep or just scratch the surface, and stop whenever I want. To gain a deeper knowledge of the topic, of course, discipline comes to my mind again. But there is no boss telling you, you have to do this or learn that. You can manage your time all by yourself.

Hope this helps!

Take care,
Patrick

 

Cool, thanks I needed this. Whole heartedly agree!

 

I feel quite the same way. I think this is why I don't see myself as a lifelong engineer.