Call me idealistic, but, for me, passion is the primary motivator when I’m considering my future career.

It started when I received a LinkedIn notification — yes, LinkedIn. One of my acquaintances had shared a post about how you should not pursue your career based on your passions but instead based on what makes you uncomfortable. I skimmed through the attached article, where the argument turned out to be that you should always look for new challenges but, of course, do work in a field that you enjoy. After reading the article, I felt a bit cheated. I was thinking something along the lines of pursuing a career in cheese-making or beekeeping because I have trypophobia — holes make me deeply uncomfortable. Another option would be surveillance, because I watched a video on China’s hyper-surveillance and “social credit” system, and that also made me uncomfortable.

The bottom line, according to the article, is that you should continuously push yourself to do things outside your comfort zone if you want to be successful. Instead of doing things that make you feel uncomfortable, I think of it as doing things that make you feel challenged. The difference is that when you finish something challenging, you feel like you’ve accomplished something big and overcome a hurdle within your own mind. When you finish something uncomfortable, you feel relieved, but the constant loop of discomfort will cause you to eventually reject the reward. I suppose I lean toward the more positive connotation of a challenge rather than something uncomfortable, because I am mainly motivated by rewards.

Depending on which article you read, there are either four or six different ways people are motivated. A Fast Company article says people are either motivated by creativity, curiosity, monetary gain or fear. Another article talks about six theories of motivation: evolutionary instinct, external rewards, internal drive, arousal, cognitive reasoning and expectancy. Yet another article discusses how individuals suffering from antisocial personality disorder are motivated purely by reward, disregarding consequences, because the dopamine center of their brain that gives good reward feelings is overactive.

So I think to myself as I sit in a corner of Tisch frowning at a LinkedIn article: What actually motivates me in life? I am pursuing two majors that are barely related to each other because I simply enjoy studying both and couldn’t choose, so I guess passion is a major motivator. I also chose those two majors — and make a lot of other life decisions — because I am good at those things, so in a way, anticipation of success is another motivator. I started my newest computer science assignment the day it was released because I got a crappy grade on my most recent project (which counted for double), so maybe fear also plays a part.

Now that we’ve arrived at this time of the semester where Thanksgiving break masks the nightmare that is finals, I find it more pressing than ever to reconsider what exactly I am doing with my life and why. Or is this tactic only procrastination in disguise? Can the stress of procrastination be a form of motivation in itself?