After years of hearing so many business gurus advising you to find your passion, never stop searching for work you love, always rediscover yourself, a wave of skepticism hit the business world lately. The economic decline has put its mark on idealistic research of happiness through work or maybe you just discovered you cannot love what you do entirely. (Part I here)
…fortune will follow.
Huge personalities like Steve Jobs, Andrew Carnegie, Richard Branson, Paul Graham Alan Watts, Daniel Dennett and many others are promoters of the concept that you have to find what you love, what makes you happy and dedicate your life to it. This translates into finding meaningful work that is related one way or the other to the things you are passionate about, which would ease your path towards success. Or to put it differently, do what you love and money will follow. This became the mantra of all career counselors, who are now focusing on helping people discover their passion.
Why it should work?
- Doing what you love and getting paid for it … basically doing things you would do anyhow, even if you weren’t paid for, while ensuring yourself an income out of it is truly the best situation you can be in, to have a fulfilled and complete life and maintain a lifestyle that best suits your needs and desires
- Passion brings drive, drive brings perseverance. Being in love with what you do will focus your entire efforts in one direction and will make it easier for you to actually become better and better at the topic
- According to Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers), working 10.000 hours at something would definitely make you an expert in the area. It is rather difficult to put so much effort into something that you’re not passionate about without having that deep feeling inside yourself that you are wasting your life away
- Even if you don’t become an expert in doing the thing you love, even if you’re not successful, you will still feel fulfillment as you are doing something that has meaning to you.
Why wouldn’t it work?
- Most people don’t really know what they’re passionate about and they might confound hobbies with passion, thus creating some confusion when it comes to choosing a future career. You shouldn’t develop a future on an unstable base, or you might have much more to lose than you think
- Being passionate about one topic doesn’t necessarily make you an expert in it. There are more chances for you to become one, as you are definitely willing to put effort and build and expand your passion but still, you might be passionate about something you have no real affinity with
- “Passionate people are more likely to take big risks in the pursuit of unlikely goals” (according to Scott Adams; see full article here)
- Passion doesn’t equal success: “Be in love with what you do but don’t be blind”, says Berlin Startup Academy founder Christoph Raethke, going on to detail his point (full article here): music industry is incredibly hard to get into with a successful business; sports is a domain that is overcrowded by apps and businesses that don’t work; other areas like arts, literature, movies, creativity and languages, are “bound to make a founder fail not quickly and cheaply, but slowly and painfully”. Basically “encouraging someone for pulling through with an idea he’s passionate about but that is just not going to work commercially (or is way too hard to execute) is the worst service that can be done to him.”
- Any work, no matter how interesting and beautiful it is, requires some administrative parts, some other type of work that has nothing to do with the core activity (if you’re passionate about music and you become a musician, you still need to have an accountant, network and sell your music, build an image for yourself, make sure you deal with the marketing and PR and so on) so even following a career in a field you’re passionate about would not guarantee full-time work fulfillment.
– If you already know what you’re passionate about, if there is one clear thing that keeps you up all night and takes up all your free time, then you made your decision and you are one of the lucky ones! The next step to do is build a product out of your passion, decide what you can sell and who your customers could be, build a concept, read, learn about the industry and make your “escape” plan. It’s a long and bumpy road, so make sure you start while you still have a job or you have a stable income from another source before you jump on it. Doing something new sometimes means failing and starting over and over again, so you always need a plan B to fall back on in case things don’t work out
– If you didn’t find the subject you’re passionate about and you’re unhappy in your current position, that’s a first step to make a decision: do you want to change something or you want to keep the status quo?
– If you decided you want to change something start investigating: look inside you, analyze yourself, find out when you are happy while you do your daily chores and try to build on the happy moments
– Look around you, find people you admire and look up to, usually there’s your answer about what you should do; great examples can give great advice
– Test more hypotheses, some might not stick, some you might get bored and tired of after a while, but there will be others that will keep you active and interested. And those are the ones you should take into consideration when you decide your future.
In the end, it’s a personal choice of the situation that works best for you.
What do you think, should you love what you do or do what you love?