Acclaimed chef Julia Child once advised: “Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” To many, this may sound like an unattainable, idealistic dream, but given the existing research on career exploration, it actually turns out to be quite a practical professional recommendation. It is a simple but powerful truth that it’s much easier to be successful if you’re truly interested in what you do. In many ways, the role of a career counselor, student advisor, or similar mentor is connecting students’ and job seekers’ passions with their professions. With VitaNavis®, we combine the latest advancements with established practices to help everyone explore their potential career pathways. In the following blog, learn why career interests and interesting work matters.
What Interest Means
“Interest” is such a popular, versatile word that it can be unclear exactly what it means. Before we explain why having interest in an occupation is so vital, it’s important to understand the way researchers use this word. In “The Nature and Power of Interests,” James Rounds and Rong Su, some of the foremost authorities on this subject, “define interests as trait like preferences for activities, contexts in which activities occur, or outcomes associated with preferred activities that motivate goal-oriented behaviors and orient individuals toward certain environments.” Essentially, “interest” applies to the characteristics people possess, environments they enjoy being in, and the goals they want to achieve.
Telling the Future
Of course, many of us would like to know exactly how we can expect our (as well as our advisees’, students’, friends’, and colleagues’) careers to go. While it may seem less intriguing than staring into a crystal ball, understanding why interesting work matters can actually help predict the future. As the notable 2017 book Personality Development Across the Lifespan notes: “interests are…widely used for prediction; a substantial body of research has shown that interest fit predicts employment outcomes, such as job satisfaction and job performance.” Having some passion for your profession foretells that you’ll be much happier in your career and do your work better.
Cultivating a Lengthy Career
Speaking of fortune telling, research demonstrates that interest is crucial to career longevity. If you’re truly passionate about your work, it’s much more difficult to get burned out, decide to switch paths, or simply become discontented with your occupation. As a piece in Harvard Business Review explains: “A sustainable career is dynamic and flexible; it features…a harmonious fit with your skills, interests, and values. The keys to crafting a sustainable career are knowing yourself – what interests you, what you do best and not so well, what energizes you – and being acutely attuned to the fields and companies you’re interested in so that you can identify places where you can add value.” Helping your advisees understand what inspires them and motivating them to find careers associated with their passions can set them up for many years of occupational success.
Career Interests and Income
Given the positive effect interest has on many aspects of a person’s career, it comes as no surprise that it is also correlated to financial prosperity. According to Rounds and Su, interests (and their alignment with a person’s career choices) are more predictive of income (83.3 percent) than either ability or personality. In this way, it truly does pay to understand your passions.