Let's talk...Passion 20 July 2015
Let’s talk! Four reasons to reconsider the advice to ‘Do what you love’

Let’s face it. We live in a society that constantly tells us that if you simply do what you love and don’t give up, money and success will follow. We’re being told that, if we’re not contributing to the world in a big way, it’s probably because we’re too scared to find our passion and follow it. Thousands of Pinterest quotes in cute fonts assure us that as long as we do what we love, people will love what we do.

I personally agree that it’s important to know what makes you happy, and to incorporate as much of that as you can into your work life. Is it teaching other people or creating something new, working in nature or connecting people? It’s great to know what your strengths are because usually that’s where you’ll find fulfilment.

But today, after I biked past the neon sign you see in this post, my fingers were aching to discuss the advice to simply work hard and do what you love that I so often hear at conferences and read on blogs. 

Do note that this is just my opinion, as someone who was able to turn a hobby into a full-time job some years ago. Today I want to discuss with you why you shouldn’t feel guilty if you can’t exactly pinpoint what your ‘one big passion’ is, or if you don’t wake up on a Monday morning without any complaints. Let’s get a few things straight. I’ve brought in a few points made by Forbes’ Rob Asghar because he puts my thoughts into words just right.

1. The majority of (successful) people don’t have one big, overriding passion
The truth is, none of us loves just one thing. The great majority of people doesn’t have a passion – or has multiple. As Stanford University teacher Dave Evans aptly puts it: ‘It is much better to have an accurate awareness that you don’t know your passion than to have an erroneous confidence in a false passion. A lot of people are trying too hard concoct one, in order to be okay. The day a false passion is unmasked can be a pretty difficult one.’ And wouldn’t it be a bit boring to only cultivate one thing you love to do, instead of several?

2. The piles of money might not follow
A friend sent me a pic the other day that read ‘I need to find me one of those Kardashian jobs where they just pay me for living.’ and I thought it was hilarious and very on point. Don’t get me wrong, it would be great to simply get paid for doing ‘you’. I’d have brunch all day, clean up my house, take long walks and maybe write a bit. Unfortunately nobody is going to pay me for that and it’s simply not the way a career is structured. I like how author Penelope Trunk puts it: “I am a writer, but I love sex more than I love writing,” she said a few years ago. “And I am not getting paid for sex…. But I don’t sit up at night thinking, should I do writing or sex? Because career decisions are not decisions about ‘what do I love most?’ Career decisions are about what kind of life do I want to set up for myself.” 

3. Your hobby can become a nightmare when it becomes a job
The fact that you love to go shopping and enjoy getting dressed in the morning doesn’t mean you love designing clothes. The fact that you love storing beautiful images on your computer, doesn’t mean you love being a photographer. If you turn a passion or a (creative) hobby, into a career you’re inevitably going to be faced with the less glamorous aspects of the job. Think: deadlines, stress from costly investments, competition and criticism, to name a few. A job that seems all glam from a distance, is just as demanding and serious in real life.

4. Searching for your passion can distract from living in the present
A part of success is finding meaning in the moment. If you’re constantly chasing your true calling and consider the current job you’re doing as a placeholder, you’re not going to succeed in what you’re doing now. You might overlook something else that you’re good at and can truly enjoy because you secretly believe you should be doing something bigger and more perfect.

Last but not least, be aware that finding a brilliant job won’t ‘fix’ your life. Doing what you love will make you feel fulfilled and that’s a great thing! But keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to get paid for it.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter, as I’m sure many of you young professionals deal with this search and well-intended advice. If you want, do share your experiences in the comments!

Let's talk

40 comments

    i think past day is joyfull as compared to incoming days. love is the basic part that makes individual relish
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    So glad you saw that neon sign in the store to inspire this post! I actually cringe when someone asks what is your passion? I studied, still learn and enjoy being a designer so I just do it. I never think, gee I love this! Though when things to smooth I take a moment and smile and thank God. Things do not go smooth often because work is work even if you really enjoy it. Thanks for your thoughts. http://www.pippihepburn.etsy.com

    Deze post is net wat ik nodig had. Ik studeer nu verplaagkunse, maar dit is helemaal mijn passie niet, maar kan mij mss wel helpen met het leven dat ik wil lijden, en mij voldoende geld doen verdienen. Mijn passie en liefde ligt in de kusnt en intwerpen, schilderen, collages, … noem maar op. Maar ik ben bang dat wanneer ik hier ga voor studeren om mijn carrière van te maken dat ik mss mijn liefde hiervoor ga verliezen en hier anders ga naar beginnen kijken. het zet mij aan het denken of ik dit niet beter als een fantastische hobby kan houden… Dit artikel zet me aan het denken … :) Sofie xx

    great post

    http://carrieslifestyle.com
    Posts online about Dubai, South Africa, Provence…

    This article makes so much sense! There is so much pressure to find one particular passion and follow that. The whole process of just finding that one passion can be so overwhelming!

    It is so difficult to find a passion, and sometimes it’s just not a good idea to turn it into a job. So don’t stress it, and let go of the things that you can’t control !

    Allee

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    This is a great article! Thank you for reminding us that passion isn’t always followed by success but it doesn’t mean we should give up our passion if that is makes us happy!

    Thank you for such an honest and humbling article. It just really puts things into perspective. Im one of those people who don’t just have 1 over powering passion, and i keep wondering if there is something wrong, or if i’ll ever be able to make an impact in the world.
    So thank you! Thank you for being so inspiring with the career talk series. I love it!

    x Carina
    Running White Horses | Travel and Fashion Blog

    As an artist who has always had a day-job, thank you for this post. My art has been my “side career” for nearly 20 years. I’ve had some paying projects, but never enough income from my creative work to quit the day job. I’m at a point in my life where I need to find a new and hopefully fulfilling day job to survive. I will keep creating no matter what but it is both scary and exciting to not know how my life will be changing.

    I am struggling a lot with this sort of stuff right now, so thanks.

    http://www.inmydreams.ca/

    Leftie Aubé

    #4 really is a struggle for me right now! It’s seems like the more I get invested in my writing-and-blogging projects, the less I’m enjoying the moment… Thanks for reminding me to pay attention to that!

    Also your post made me analyze more closely what I was pursuing and I made me more aware of what I’m getting into, which is always a good thing!

    Number 1 and 3 are so scarily accurate. It’s hard to do what you love when the world tells you its better to be exceptionally good at one thing (i.e. your one and only passion) than to be pretty good at many things. I needed this article today. Thank you!
    x
    Elise

    http://thelifeofawildchildblog.blogspot.com/

    Louise

    Thank you for sharing your ideas, I totally agree with you. It’s not like there will be a magical outcome just by doing what you love. I’m still figuring out what activity should I prioritize in order to be economically wealthier, but I believe I should be careful to leave spaces for doing things that bring me fulfillness (to whatever extent), for the sake of my mental health, perspective and balance.
    Just yesterday I came across “The one thing” by Gary Keller and something inside me rejected the idea. Perhaps I should give myself the opportunity reading that book.
    Anyway, I wanted to add that still it’s relevant to keep learning, improving and become competent in fewer areas. There’s a spanish adage to this: “el que mucho abarca, poco aprieta”.
    Sometimes I think What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I find my one and only passion? There’s tons of things I like! Knowing I have potential, this issue kinda stresses me out. How can I get the most of me? What do I choose? After reading your post, I feel relieved. Hopefully more people reading will feel relieved too. Thank you.

    I agree with point 3 that a hobby CAN become a nightmare when it becomes a job. Maybe for some really lucky people, a hobby-turned full-time job is a dream come true. But I’d rather have a stable full-time job and blog as a hobby than rely on it for a living. Nice thought-inspiring post though.

    https://sartorialisttoujours.wordpress.com/

    Gaby

    Great article Yara! This definitely resonates with me since I just graduated from university this past December. My biggest passions has always been to be an actress. Other passions: fashion stylist (although I am at your point #1, in which I am realizing that that is not something I would really love to do, I might have liked the idea of it, but I still want to dabble in it just to see). I also want to be a casting director, own my own small clothing store and a very small boutique hotel, help solve societal issues. My major was international relations and I would have also liked to work as a foreign policy advisor or peacebuilding specialist. I have many passions and I was worried that maybe I didn’t know what it was that I wanted to do and I’ve been freaking out a bit. This article made me feel a bit okay with having multiple passions, so thank you Yara. I know that I will have concentrate on something that brings me the most happiness and that is turning my ideas for a small business into a social enterprise to bring together my entrepreneurial side with my charitable side.

    That Penelope Trunk quote is amazing. Couldn’t have said it any better.

    http://www.throughmyowneyes.com

    Ik ben het helemaal met je eens! Ik blog heel graag en steek er veel tijd bij. Maar ben wel realistisch dat er minder dan 1% daadwerkelijk kan leven puur van hun blog. Ik vind dat veel mensen hier te fel gaan over zweven en snap ook niet dat sommige ouders hun kinderen zomaar onderhouden terwijl die kinderen doelloos shoot na shoot gaan doen. Daar ik nu een vast inkomen heb, ben ik ook niet verplicht om deals aan te gaan die me niet aanstaan.

    Thanks for the article, it’s a good contrast to all the ‘follow your dreams and passion’-posts where finding a passion or whether you want to make a living out of your passion is not a question but THE best way of living.

    Thank you for your honest opinion, I agree with alot of points you make. I enjoy blogging, but for me, its more of a hobby. I look at the big blogs and think wow that would be great but then again…would it? I love to travel but I dont want to be a fulltime travel blogger because I feel like it would take away the getting lost in the travel aspect since it will be work – oh Ive gotta write down everything about this hotel, I have to get the perfect picture of this blah blah. Im still figuring out what it is I enjoy that I can do as a career.

    Sarah x
    http://www.hausofsarahrachel.com

    Such a relevant and necessary post! I love it!

    When I first read the title of your post I thought I would disagree, instead I found everything you said to be 100% true for me. I fall into the category of loving too many things to be able to find just one (or even a few) passions. It’s always helpful to get different perspectives on things like this. Thank you for taking the time to spell all this out because for anyone like me it’s really great knowing that I’m not the only one.

    Niki

    So very true. And such a relieve to read about this on a blog, it’s so much more down to earth and realistic. I also havemore passions. One of them is baking cakes. But I know thats not the path I wanna follow, baking cakes as a career. And Ithink the passion would also die away when i would need to bake day in day out. Instead I have an office job. OftenI like what I’m doing and I’m good at it. But yeah, I dont normally jump with enthusiasm on monday mornings. That’s life.

    Didn’t think I would resonate with this topic on first glance but with every paragraph found myself agreeing with you more. I absolutely think that this is a major issue for people in their 20s, particularly university/college students like myself who are feeling like we have to do a degree that we absolutely love.Passions as you alluded don’t always equal lifestyle. Great read

    Thank’s for this meaningful article! I’m exactly at the point where I want to do what I love because I feel that I need it. I just finished university and what I studied makes me happy. But I need to create et to do something by myself. I always see entrepreuneurship as something very important in my life. So it’s the reason why I want to do what I love in order to create and to run my own micro compagny (I hope so). So I want to follow my nose but I consider what you say in this interresting article. Thank you! sorry for my bad english…

    Hi Megane,

    Thanks for your reply! I definitely agree that a job is what can make you feel happy, worthy, enthusiastic – it’s great to add value to the world (or even your micro world, like you said). And I think it’s good to realize that it might not come in a dream job but in a dream hobby, and that that’s OK too : )

    This was such a brilliant read – I don’t feel I have one passion and can feel down about not being able to pinpoint a focus. I’m passionate about photography, healthy living and positivity, so I’m going to just do all three! Why not?!

    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Lifestyle Food Beauty

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m happy to hear you liked reading this! Absolutely, just discover those areas and perhaps you’ll be able to implement one (or all!) of them in your professional life. I’d love to hear more about what you’re doing to actively open up to more positivity in your life :)

    Very interesting post! It really made me think about the subject.

    Valérie | Moonlit Stories

    At first I thought I wouldn’t agree with this article when I read the title, since I do do what I love, however there are other things I’m passionate about. I know lots of people that hate the idea of turning their hobby into a full time career, as it would take the love and fun out of it, but for me it has worked (with A LOT of hard work). You definitely need to be realistic about it.

    Lion in the Wild // http://www.lioninthewild.com

    Absolutely! For me, it worked out as well, but it’s not like I’m on holiday/shopping/taking selfies all day as some people might
    expect. Running a small company takes a lot of work and determination and adds a ton of pressure you’d otherwise not have. But I do love what I do, it’s just dangerous to me that it seems like you need to love everything you do, all the time.

    Maryjane

    Brilliant post, so true & insightful. I think everyone needs a creative hobby & to work less hours & have more time for other aspects of their life. This is more realistic than everyone ‘making it big’ in their ‘dream’ career. Illusions like that can be dangerous.

    lovely
    xxx
    http://www.dominiquecandido.com

    That is so true! I always used to struggle between my hobby and my job! One other important thing is that we you turn your hobby into a job, you suddenly don’t have a hobby anymore to get your mind of work. And I completely agree with the rest of your statements!

    http://www.happiness-treasures.blogspot.com

    Great point! As I turned my job into a hobby, I struggled with that a lot. I identified with work a lot and lost sight of other things that made me happy. I’m discovering new hobbies and setting boundaries now, and it brings a much healthier balance.

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