It turns out that trying to find our passion may be a futile search. For those of us who believe a passion is something we have and just need to discover, we may be setting ourselves up to fail.

Researchers at Stanford and Yale found that those of us who believe passions can be found also tend to believe that once we find our passion, it will provide us with limitless motivation.

Unfortunately, this means we may bounce from one thing to another, because as soon as the activity becomes difficult or unmotivating, we tend to believe it is because it is not our passion. However, instead of getting frustrated looking for our passion, we can take a few simple steps to find something even more important.

What cheese?

For a while, the trend was to work and try to get better and better at our job. Then, as more people became more proficient, they started thinking that maybe there was more to success than proficiency.

Our pursuit evolved into professional advancement and increased pay. Then, with money in our pockets and feeling loneliness at the top, some of us started to think maybe success related more to some inherent genius or passion.

This created two problems for a lot of us. First, not all of us can reach the genius category in something. (Does it take 10,000 hours?) Second, as noted in the research mentioned above, this path to passion does not necessarily lead to success.

However, the common thread in each pursuit is the idea that we can take charge of whatever it is that might lead to our success or happiness. This is where we can find something that may be more important than passion.

3Rs: Realism, Resilience, Relatability

Many people read the research and restated the concept of finding passion as something along the lines of pursuing different interests to elevate work from drudgery to balanced neutrality. This is a more reasonable and realistic approach to finding a passion; like finding the joy in accomplishing a small task and building from there.

Second, another recent trend, the focus on resilience, underscores the idea that we can be more successful if we recognize we will face problems. Knowing this, we can work to develop the capacity to withstand some level of hardship as well as develop tools to solve problems. Think of this like an athlete cross-training to prepare for competition.

Third, as anyone who has had to speak for more than five minutes knows, the best way to capture and keeps someone’s attention is to clearly convey what is in it for them.

Similarly, if we can find a way to relate to the task, problem or pursuit, we are more likely to develop an interest. Consider the lack of interest a 30-year-old woman has in colon cancer until she finds out her father has it.

The bottom line is, just like a mom who finds out she is having twins, it is possible to develop expertise, interest and passion for something you may have never previously had knowledge of or an interest in; the key is to embrace realism, prepare for ups and downs, and engage in the active pursuit of different perspectives.