Home / Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do  
Image of Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do

At a high level, SDT [Self-Determination Theory] makes a simple claim:

To be happy, your work must fulfill three universal psychological needs: autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

In more detail…

  • Autonomy refers to control over how you fill your time. As Deci puts it, if you have a high degree of autonomy, then “you endorse [your] actions at the highest level of reflection.”
  • Competence refers to mastering unambiguously useful things. As the psychologist Robert White opines, in the wonderfully formal speak of the 1950s academic, humans have a “propensity to have an effect on the environment as well as to attain valued outcomes within it.”
  • Relatedness refers to a feeling of connection to others. As Deci pithily summarizes: “to love and care, and to be loved and cared for.”

h/t: Jason Stotts's On Purpose

Written by permalink    plaintext

Put another way: three decades of research has shown that the traits that make us happy with our work have little to do with our personality or so-called “passions.”

Similar conclusions apply to related decisions, such as choosing your college major. Forget trying to divine some perfect match, and instead choose a major for your own reasons — not pressure from your parents or a misguided view on what’s “practical” — and then strive to become excellent at it. As I argued before, your love of the subject will grow with your sense of autonomy and competence.

Can't say I agree with this in toto; at least I can state this doesn't completely apply to me. My personality and what brings me happiness in my work are connected. Furthermore, there are certain subjects in which I have competence (and I could argue an expertise) that do not increase my joy. I still found it an interesting article.

You need to be logged in to comment.
search only within jobs

About jobs


Filler, for now. We're waiting for new moderators to volunteer, at which time we know they'll make this community great. Interested in the role? Is being a moderator your calling?

Latest Activity