Answer "what do I want to do?" in terms of career
“What do I want to be?” is a different question from “What do I want to do?”
According toand some other psychologists, there are two kinds of people in this world–the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. For this was the stasists and the dynamists. The first mindset represents the be-ers. They say things like, “I’ve got to be true to myself,” “I’ve got to be me.” Naturally, these are the people who know and follow the passion that is their true calling, right? Wrong. Well, they may follow their inclinations but seldom to a higher level.
It is the growth/dynamist mindset who are the becomers. “I’ve got to be all I can be” or “the best I can be,” is their mode in life. You’ve got to follow your inclinations to higher and higher and higher levels to turn them into your passion. You’ve got to imbue your passion with a spirit and mastery easily recognized by others in order to turn it into a career. And then you can enjoy a quite lovely career. It is about self-actualization ().
Recognize that “what do I want to do?” poses a less threatening question than “what do I want to be?” Answer it first and let things fall into place. Answer “what do I want to do?” in terms of career, and then you are free to turn “what do I want to be?” into a more meaningful question… what do I want to be in terms of know-how, skills, morals, relationships with others and so on.
I hope my youngest sonwill not mind me using him as an example. What did he want to do as a child? Watch TV. This actually caused me a good deal of anguish as I’d had a younger brother who escaped into a TV set every day after school. I barely got to know him. I personally don’t much care for TV. But Keaton watched it with a difference. The second time he’d watch a show, he’d recite the dialog ahead of the actors. Pretty soon his knowledge of children’s cartoons was encyclopedic. At 10 and 11 he’d say things like, “Oh, that’s the music playing in the background in that scene of Brave Little Toasterwhere…” or “Hey, they stole that line from The Simpsons in the episode where…”
As a kid, Keaton would try to tell us stories. But he was legendarily bad, the butt of many family jokes. Then, in his teens he learned to animate, and what a storyteller he was! It turned out his mind was so choked with details that he could not simply tell a story; he needed to lay out the whole sound and imagery for you.
And so now, just turned 26, he’s been a partner and creative director for three years in a San Francisco animation and motion graphics studio. He graduated college with six credits as special effects supervisor on feature films, including the Oscar-nominated. He has met many of the most famous animators and graphic artists around, who are flattered at his thorough familiarity with their work and who recognize him as a peer.
All this because he watched TV like a sponge. Figure out what you love to do, and then do it with passion. You’ll be better for it.
This question originally appeared on Quora: Should someone choose their passion as a career?
TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email email@example.com.