Developing a Passion

Recently I got a comment saying my answer to a question about how one might develop a passion for something was especially helpful. So here it is, typed up in an easier to digest (for some people) format.

The video:

Transcribed to text:

Yes, I do believe it's possible to develop a passion for something even if you don't feel it at first.

I grew a passion in programming. When I first started programming, I was basically fresh out of studying mathematics and other subjects in school, I had dropped out of school, I was working minimum wage jobs-- I just needed a job. And my partner at the time was just like, "Why don't you just do programming? You know math, it pays well." I was like, "Ah, fine,"-- I did need more money, and I had no idea what to do. I had to go back to school basically.

And I did grow to really love it. The way I grew to love it was I started connecting it to things that I already liked. I really liked math. I really liked art. The first moment of really liking programming came when I did graphics programming that was more artistic for a creative agency. I was making beautiful particle systems, I was like, "Ah, I love this!" and I started getting deeper into it. And I still love it, I'm just burnt out on it now.

One thing that I've learned about in therapy is the ACT Value Sort. There's lots of ways to do it, different methodologies, but the idea is that everyone values different things in life. When you grow up, sometimes you're told things like "You should get married and have kids!" "You should go into this field, you'll really like it," "You're such a math person, you should do this"-- you get a lot of external views put on you. The idea of value based living in psychology is that you may not value what you think you *should* value, and it's useful to think about what you actually value in life. I did an exercise in therapy that showed I value connection with other people, I value nurturing others, I value beauty-- which is *why* I like math and art. I value nature, which is also why I like math and art-- it helps me understand nature. It brought me in touch with the core of why I liked things.

Once you have that core, you can relate that to a lot of subjects. For instance, some value security and family a lot-- maybe you can latch onto the fact that you're providing for your family. Or maybe you're like me, and you can latch on to the artistic and beautiful aspects of it. Maybe you're more order oriented, and can latch onto the structure of the programs. Thinking about what you value in life is worth it.

It may be worth considering whether you're not feeling passionate because you're very burnt out on programming. Taking a step back and taking a break from it for a while could be nice, giving yourself space. It might be worthwhile to try other things to see what you're passionate about. That might seem counterintuitive, but you can draw connections between the subjects or just give your brain space to breathe a bit. Just ideas.

Lastly, it's possible that you really just don't enjoy programming, even after you've tried all these things. In that case, you really don't have to stay in it if you don't want to. There are lots of different kinds of programming, for one, maybe you can go into a different field that still uses some of your skills. But more than that, many people don't even consider this path. So, at least think about that.

Those are some thoughts on that!

Sidenote, not in the video: I don’t think passion is required to do something well or be good at a job. This is more addressed to someone who, on a personal and individual level, wants to grow that passion.

Resources for Learning Graphics Programming

Product Management Talk