My favourite book on careers advice is Cal Newports So Good They Cant Ignore You. Every student should read it. Its message is crucial.
The book argues that following your passion is bad advice. Passion evolves from becoming world class at your chosen career and that you only become world class if you devote time, effort and perseverance.
Newport introduces the concept of career capital, which is the value an individual adds to an organisation by way of their career skills. Freedom of time and movement, the ability to be creative and the presence of meaning are the three attributes of a great career. You can access careers with these attributes only by exchange of your career capital??i.e. if you have built up world class skills and add more value, you can exchange this career capital for greater freedom, creativity and meaning.
The only way to develop career capital is through deliberate practice and consciously striving to get better in your chosen profession each day. If youre a teacher, this means reading latest teaching practice research and implementing in your lessons. If youre a web developer, it means learning a new technique, or setting yourself coding problems to solve. Continuous improvement leads to increased career capital.
Following the passion hypothesis means people look at what their career offers them as opposed to the other way round. They discover it doesnt measure up to expectations, then quit or become unhappy. By focusing on your career as a journey to increase skill, value and contribution, you shift perspectives to what YOU CAN OFFER THE WORLD. This leads to less depression, increased satisfaction and a increased feeling of control.
This book is a must read. My millennial generation has grown up on fluffy careers advice around passion and following career pathways with great meaning. The people who impact the world are those with the skills to do so. You cant change the world unless you have spent the time building these skills.
Changing your outlook to one of becoming so good they cant ignore you provides for a healthier perspective.
So, if you are stacking shelves as your first job, GOOD. Become the best shelf stacker there is. Get noticed for your diligence and desire to go the extra mile. Who knows where this attitude might take you?