Follow your passion, or...? - Kathy Varol

Follow your passion, or…?

follow your passion

Picture a surfer. Let’s call her Sara. Sara is devoutly passionate about surfing and everything around it.

The challenge and thrill of each wave. Testing the limits of her body. The adventure of not knowing what’s next.

Sara eats and breathes surfing.

Sara comes to you for career advice. What do you say?

“Follow your passion” is a common piece of advice. But is it good advice?

One sticky spot about “follow your passion” is the tendency we have to oversimplify others (and ourselves) to a limited narrative.

Sara is passionate about surfing, and she identifies herself as a surfer, but Sara is a multidimensional human. There are countless other things that spark a passion in her as well. Plus, there are elements from surfing, like the problem-solving skills required to conquer a wave, that are extremely valuable in many careers.

The alternative to “follow your passion” is often confused with “find a stable job that affords you the freedom to pursue your hobbies on the side”. In other words, construct a life in which you’re a passionless zombie during the week, only living for the weekend.

On every job platform, there is an abundance of soulless corporations handing out lifeless jobs. The options are as appealing as taking a sugar-crazed lactose intolerant kid to Baskin Robbins and telling her to eat any—and as much—ice cream as she wants. There’s nothing wrong with the kid. The selection is the issue.

If all options are bad options, that means the system doesn’t work.

Fortunately, nothing says you have to play by the rules someone else created. When a system is broken, you can choose to change the system.

What might this mean for Sara?

Following where her energy and skills are is key to creating a career that feels like surfing a wave every day. As a multidimensional human, that could take many directions. Here we’ll illustrate one possible path.

Sara’s passionate about protecting the oceans so she can continue doing her sport.

Sara sees the issue of plastic pollution firsthand. Every second a dump truck full of plastic ends up in the ocean. At this rate, by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean.

Sara discovers ZENWTR, or knowing Sara, it’s more likely she invents it.

ZENWTR is on a mission to rescue 50 million pounds of ocean-bound plastic by 2025.


ZENWTR bottles are made from 100% recycled ocean-bound plastic that was rescued from at-risk coastlines and waterways in countries that don’t have formal recycling programs. Their bottle supply chain uses partners who are building new recycling programs all over the world, that incentivize communities to rescue plastic before it reaches the ocean, and provide reliable income to these communities (from bottle collectors to recycling processors).

This simple example demonstrates one way Sara can “follow her passion” by building a company (or working for a company) that aligns with her values, utilizes her skills, and impacts the world in a way she passionately cares about.

If you’re on the side of the majority, in a passionless job living for the weekend, what could “follow your passion” look like for you?

What would make you feel like you’re surfing a wave every day?

Site Design Rebecca Pollock
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