By Mike McCormack

One of my biggest pet peeves is how much emphasis young adults (and many consultants) put on interests when making career choices. It is also amazing how many assessment instruments there are for interests – and how many people think they are just as important as talents or skills.

The usual way interests are used is to tell someone to follow their passions (interests), and everything will turn out just fine. We  assume that if a person has an interest in something, then they must also be talented in that area. How many high school athletes do you know (especially males) who are passionate about playing their high school sport as a professional? How many of them actually have the body type, and physical skills, and the determination to play a professional sport?  The percentages of high school athletes who go on to play professional sports are so low they are staggering!

If you want to emphasize interests – do it in the negative way. That means, if you don’t like something – by all means don’t do it.  There is a great example of this negative interest philosophy in the Bible. In Judges 7 Gideon was about to go to war against the Midianites with 32,000 men in his army, which God said were too many. The first way he reduced the number was to say, “Whoever is afraid and trembling, let him return” (to his family). In other words, if you don’t like this kind of work (i.e., going to war), then go home.

Of all the things you should take into account when choosing a career, interests is the category that is most likely to change. It is O.K. for interests to be part of the career choice equation, just be careful how you use them and how much weight you put on them.