3 Things to Do Instead of Following Your Passion
Someone has definitely told you to follow your passion. And on the surface that seems like pretty sound advice. Get paid for doing what you love. Simple.
Next time you hear someone throw out that hackneyed phrase, don't listen to them. Stick your fingers in your ears and whistle a tune. Because following that advice can be disastrous for your work life. Do the opposite. Look for things to do instead of trying to follow your passion.
The Issues with Following Your Passion
That's because a recent Stanford report has slammed that old adage. In a series of laboratory studies, the academics explored the issues with the mantra.
Let's run through some of the key problems...
A. Passions Change:
What is your passion now? Say you like baking cakes — go, be a baker. But what about ten years ago? What was your passion then?
It was something completely different, probably. Everyone's passions change. It's what makes us rounded human beings. Most people leap from one great adventure to another.
How do you really know what you’re going to love in five years?
Is your passion for cooking going to stick with you or will something new come along?
There’s no way for us to predict the future, so don’t even try.
B. Not Everyone Has a Passion:
The truth is you might not have a passion — and there's nothing wrong with that.
You might like going to the movies. But does that mean you should ditch everything to become an actor? Of course, not. You may enjoy knitting. But, whatever you do, don't book a flight to Milan to start a fashion career.
The idea that you everyone has a calling in life is laughable. How many people do you know who have a single-track mind for one career? Two, three?
Most people drift from interest to interest without developing a love for something. So, if that sounds like you, don't worry: you're in the majority. The key is to enjoy a little bit of everything. You don’t need to put all your eggs in one basket.
C. There Might Not be Money in It:
Following your passion sounds like a fantastic idea. Until you realize you can't afford to feed yourself. The truth is that there might not be money in your hobby.
You may love bird-watching, but no-one's going to pay you to wait all-day looking for a golden eagle. Why make a career from your passion if it leads you to a life of financial misery?
D. Your Passion Becomes Your Job:
Even if you can make a living from it, do you want to spend all-day, every-day doing it? If you follow your passion you will not get a break from it. This can soon get very tiring. You may end up hating the thing you once loved. Once that's happened you've lost your favorite thing to do for a job you resent.
Spend a great deal of time figuring out how much you actually love something. Because you need to eat it, sleep it and breathe it. And sometimes that's way too much.
E. You Will Put Yourself on One Track:
Don't you hate it when people define you?
"Hey, you're the writer guy" or,
"You're the one who hates eggs, right?"
Sure, that might be part of your personality. But you might also be able to nail a triple salchow or recite the periodic table. What about that, eh? The point is, humans are not interested in one thing. We're multifaceted creatures with a variety of interests.
You shouldn't have to bet your whole life on one passion. Doing so puts too much pressure on that goal, which will lead to disappointment if the target isn't hit.
What You Should Do Instead of Following Your Passion
Now you know why not to follow your passion, what should you do? Here we've picked out three things that could lead to a fulfilling life. You can still do what you love, but without the pressure that comes with choosing your hobby as a career.
1. Pick a Career That Works for You
If you're not "following your passion" then what should you be doing for a job?
There is no right answer but there are ways to narrow down your options.
Step ONE: Assess your strengths. What are you good at? How can you offer businesses? Be honest with yourself.
Step TWO: What do you enjoy doing? This isn't the same as following your passion. You don't have to have a passion for something to enjoy doing it. By being excited about a task, we are more likely to put more effort into it.
Step THREE: Assess the market. Now you know your strengths and what you enjoy doing, you need to find a gap in the market. Where are the jobs going that meet your needs?
2. Build a Passion
We aren't born with passions. Instead, we create them through repetition. Knowing that gives us a huge advantage. While others dream of writing the Great American Novel, we can aim for realistic targets.
The key is to look for a niche hobby that businesses desire. Do it. Then do it again. You will soon develop a passion and expertise for it.
Companies will see your value and will reward you for it.
3. Sort out Your Priorities
Before you follow your passion, take a step back and think. If this doesn't work... then what? You may be lucky and have millions in the bank. But for the majority, that's not the case. Your focus should be on creating a stable base from which you want to live your life.
Part of that is staying fit and healthy. The second part is getting a reliable income from a stable source. Struggling to pay the bills can lead to increased anxiety and depression.
Is it worth going through that for your hobby? Do your passions outside of work. You're still doing them and your chances of financial instability are lower.