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job passion

For many of us, the ultimate goal is finding a job we love. Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up in the morning and genuinely be excited about going to work? You’d think so, but according to a new study by Ide Katrine Birkeland, a PhD student at BI Norwegian Business School, passion for work can actually be bad for you.

As the Daily Muse reports, Birkeland’s study draws a line between two types of career passion: harmonious and obsessive. As you might guess, the former is preferable to the latter, which causes burnout and leads to tension with friends, family, and coworkers.

What is obsessive passion? It’s when you the job becomes your entire life. If you say things like, “Without work, I’m nothing,” Birkeland writes, you may have an unhealthy love for your career.

“If your work is everything to you, it’s easy to get blinders and just focus on what you need to do to meet your goals and to lose perspective of everything else that goes on in your organization,” says Birkeland, who spent a year studying 1,263 members of a technical trade organization.

People with obsessive passion tend to look down on their coworkers, Birkeland finds, and the more companies try to discourage such behavior by rewarding personal progress, cooperation, and skill development as opposed to individual performance, the worse things get.

“They’re not being able to shine like they need to,” Birkeland says of obsessive job lovers, “so they put in more effort to push everyone down.”

The key, Birkeland says, is to develop harmonious passion for your work. You should love it because it’s rewarding and aligned with your interests — not because it provides social status or boosts your ego. What’s more, you should leave room in your life for other hobbies.

“It’s all about maintaining your other identities as well,” she writes.


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