⚡ Sick of trying to find your 'passion'? Cal Newport has some alternative ideas... and they might help you get out of a rut.

The cover of So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport

So Good They Can’t Ignore You | Book by Cal Newport

This is a practical, no-nonsense book focused from the outset on debunking the myth that everyone should simply do what they’re passion about.

Newport’s view is that rather than diving headfirst into a career we think we’ll be passionate about, we should instead be a little more practical. He suggests that any career can be fulfilling if it provides us (in the long term at least) with three key factors:

  • Autonomy
  • Mastery
  • Purpose

These factors aren’t unique to Newport’s work – they’re also mentioned in Dan Pink’s book Drive. They’re basically just modified versions of the three basic needs identified in Self Determination Theory, a psychological theory of human motivation and personality.

Having established these factors, Newport explores the practicalities of achieving them in your career. He explains that diving into a career that you feel passionate about can often mean that you’re actually lacking one or more of the three factors. Unless the factors can eventually be achieved, you’re likely to find the work unfulfilling, even if you started out with a strong passion for it.

The book is certainly a little biased towards Newport’s own area of expertise – academia. Artistic pursuits, while mentioned, feel a little neglected. Depending on your background and personal viewpoint, you might well find yourself disagreeing with some of his views.

Whether you agree entirely, slightly or not at all with Newport’s views on careers, you’re likely to find his practical advice useful. He draws from some interesting case studies and from his own experience to pull together some very useful tips for finding fulfillment for your career.

It was this book that set me on the road to viewing the search for passion as less a search, more an experiment. I’d recommend it highly.