An untold number of college graduates are about to be told to go forth into the world with advice of the "follow your dreams" and "do what you love" variety. And even those who graduated long ago hear the mantra of "quit your day job" and "pursue your passion." Well, sure, it all sounds great, but "most of the time it's empty advice, designed to trigger emotion but not action," writes Kate Kiefer Lee at themanual.org. Her essay encourages a broader perspective about work and the role it can play in our lives. "It's a myth that in order to be truly happy, you need to find and pursue your one true passion: Many people have joyous lives filled with interests and hobbies and people they love, but not passions."
The success stories that become fodder for "formulaic" inspirational talks and videos are often out of reach for many people for a variety of reasons, often financial. And yet "they are treated as gospel," making people who hear them feel like they're missing out on life. Not everyone has a mythical calling or an interest that can be turned into a marketable skill, and that's fine. "Here's a more achievable goal than 'follow your dreams': be engaged at work," writes Kiefer Lee. "Look for meaning in it." Following dreams sounds great as a slogan, "but it's almost always more fulfilling to follow your needs." Click for the full essay. (Read more career stories.)