BSc. Maths cum Laude University of Johannesburg; MBBCh. with distinction (my medical degree from University of the Witwatersrand); 5 years specialist psychiatry training at The University of Cape Town; FCPsych(SA) Fellow of the College of Psychiatrists in South Africa; MMed Psychiatry with distinction (UCT)
I am a psychiatrist in private practice and I feel like I have come across almost the entire range of different individuals. Each of them with their various talents, interests and careers. Some have been successful others not. Some loved what they did for a living others despised it. It was not obvious how people chose what to pursue as a goal and why some were successful and happy and others not. One day while listening to the Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson he reminded me of something I had read twenty years earlier in my life. When I was twenty years old I devoured the books (the complete written works) of the great Psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Peterson reminded me that it was Jung who had said: people don't have Ideas, Ideas have them. This same thinking applies to what you find "interesting" or feel "passion" for. You don't choose what interests you, it is very much the case that your interest is somehow suddenly captured by something completely unexpectedly. Later you most likely will struggle to articulate clearly to others why "this" interests you and not "that". The reason, I believe, is that you have very little choice in the matter. It is frightening to think that we are governed to a large extent by forces within us, beyond our control, of which we are, for the most part, completely unaware. However frightening though it is, at some point we need to face this reality. Human beings are incredibly complex creatures, so complex, in fact, that we are ultimately a complete mystery to ourselves. There is far more to us than what we can understand and put into words. We don't even know how much more there is. I don't claim to understand such things as mysterious as our Unconscious Self. However, it has been my observation as a highly rational professional, trained in the scientific method that Intuition, for lack of a better term, seems necessary in making major decisions, under uncertain circumstances, when we don't have all the information available to us. However, you soon realize you will never have all the information available to you. Intuition can be thought of as perceptions we experience that do not arise though our normal sensory modalities. They simply seem to appear, to manifest themselves, often with incredibly deep insights about who we are, what we should do or where we should go. How can we know, or where do we store, so much important information about ourselves and our lives at such a deep level that we are, for the most part, completely unaware of it? Intuition seems to be a cognitive skill that can be improved and refined with practice. In the beginning our intuition is unsophisticated and immature. With practice and time, one's intuition becomes a highly refined cognitive skill with striking accuracy. We need our intuition, as it serves as the guide that plots a trustworthy course for us to follow, in a world where the amount of information and possibilities would be overwhelming to our consciousness. Many people completely ignore their intuition, and it has been my observation that generally they end up walking a sub-optimal, or even destructive, path through life. If you have the necessary ability and are conscientious enough then I suggest the following as the next best step to take towards success. Make your absolute best attempt to act in accordance with what you feel, at the deepest level of your being, to be true, despite the potential cost. I truly believe that if you do this, your manifold talents will naturally manifest themselves to you and success will find you without any need for you to seek it out. That is a fool's errand and often ends in anger and bitterness. Usually I advise younger people to start pursuing a goal they see as worthwhile as soon as possible. It very often will not turn out to be the thing that they end up doing as a career. However, just moving in a "good" direction, opens doors, widens your horizons and expands your mind. There is so much more I could tell you regarding this particular quandry and please call me if you found what I said to carry some value or meaning for you. In the meantime I will leave you with a quote taken from the great German writer and poet Goethe: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic in it". I hope my thoughts have provided some help in answering your question and I look forward to speaking to you in more depth, in the future.