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!