You’ve probably once been told by your teacher, parent, friend or even heard it from motivational speakers that following your passion is the absolute key to a successful life.
It is what I have always believed in my life too.
But here is what I realized, “follow your passion” is total BS. It’s one of the most trashy pieces of advice you could ever get or give.
Why would I say that?
Because every individual is passionate about something. Usually, it is not just a single thing, but a couple of them. It is undoubted that there are things we are going to love doing or we dream of doing in life.
Unfortunately, those things are not worth a dime, neither your effort in your career.
Just because you have something giving you a tickling feeling and you’re really passionate about, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you are going to hack life with it.
Besides, it is not assured that it is the best approach towards establishing your lifetime career.
Before I even delve deeper into this, take a look at this video from Mike Rowe
This got me wondering if Steve Jobs followed his passion, could we be having these most craved-for, Apple products? I guess not, he could have spent the rest of his time probably in some unknown place in China as a Buddhist monk, because that is what he was passionate about.
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Don’t Follow Your Passion, Follow my Instagram Instead ?
I think the “Do what you love, and the money will come” phrase usually sounds like a kickass advice – until the time you need to secure a job. That is when disillusionment kicks in hastily.
It is not wrong to have a passion for something, but then, life is not that fancy, and it does not care about what we love or are passionate about.
Take a moment and think about the thing(s) you are passionate about…(if at all they exist).
How many of them have you ever considered to make a living or your career around? Many. You might have been unable to settle on one, right?
Now ask yourself why you could not settle on one, or why you kept on skipping from one to another. Rather, why was it so hard for you to build a career on any of those things?
Maybe you happened to be successful in building your career around one of the things you have been passionate about. (Congratulations).
But what lead to your success, is it the passion or the effort you put into that venture or job?
Follow Passion or Be Realistic?
It is possible that we, young people can absolutely make a living by following our passion. But it is unfortunate that most of us do not have enough knowledge or information about life and what is viable.
This makes it hard for us to choose something that one thing able to open success doors for us.
Also, even if we could, most at times, we could go wrong in our decisions.
Don’t Always Follow Your Passion, But Bring it With You!
I like how Mike Rowe said in the video above…
(Paraphrased) Whenever I am watching the Oscars or the BET Awards, one thing that almost everyone says is “Don’t ever give up on your dreams.” I can’t refute that, but how can a singer or movie actor who does not know you, let alone your passion tell you that?
You see most of us young people have passions, but the things we are passionate about usually got to dousually with sports, dancing, acting, and fancy stuff like that.
But the bitter truth is, these interests do not have high market interests.
Let’s look at this, as a blogger, you can solve other people’s needs, and that creates value. As an entrepreneur, say a fashion designer, you can solve needs as well. But think of the impact that you can have on people’s lives with dancing, or playing lawn tennis. Almost insignificant, right?
Opportunity Over Passion
This reminds of my art and design degree back in college. I remember we started with “History of Art and Design” in our first lecture where we could learn about the ancient badass artists who made the design history.
Some of the artists I learned about during that time include Pablo Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci and the likes. Then there is this guy called Vicent Van Gogh. Despite his work of art being exceptional and extremely awesome, he managed to sell only one painting during his lifetime. Bruh! Only one freaking paint, in an entire lifetime!! Mark you, this guy died at 37 years.
I know you’re wondering how he survived and paid his bills now that painting was his fulltime and only job.
Thanks to his generous brother who helped him out.
But if your “passion” that you’re pursuing doesn’t pay, do you have someone who will help you out as well? Unfortunately, not all of us have someone willing to giving you some cash or pay your bills just so you can follow your passion.
You can barely find someone willing to you lend you $20 bucks, how about someone to pay your bills while you are out there trying to follow some passion that is not paying at all?
Hol’up, I am not trying to say that these performing arts or sports aren’t viable; we all know a heck-load of people living off of football or even comedy. We have the likes of Neymar making over $700k per week.
But the dirty truth is, the market interest is quite low. Hence, few people make it in life in these fields.
Besides that, I think as much as everyone would like to secure a 9-5 job that gives them the freedom and flexibility to explore their creativity and travel the world, such jobs are rare.
Think of this…
How many times have we been told to stay on course; to identify something that we love, put some serious work on it, and BOOM! Money will start kicking in? I’ll answer that for you – Many times!
But have you ever wondered what the chances of being successful are if your passion is not marketable?
Can you imagine how many great footballers are out there, how many badass actors or comedians are out there but have no opportunity are even broke as hell? And it is not like they don’t have an A-game, it is because the existing platform is not enough for everyone.
Here is another example, I come from Kenya and we have roughly 15 country-wide known football clubs, there might be hundreds of them but the ones recognized, where players are well paid are about 15 or less. Any football team has about 15 players maximum, that is inclusive of subs. The ones playing in these teams are not necessarily the best people in the country, they happen to be the ones who managed to grab the opportunity.
Now I am pretty sure out the 40+ million Kenyans, we have thousands of “ninja” footballers. What if all of them wanted to make a living out of football, where will they go?
Definitely, they have not chance and as much as they are passionate about football, they gotta look for something else to do with their lives or less they will stay broke as hell and starve to death.
Don’t Work Hard, Work Smart
I believe whoever came up with this, knew that there are some things you could be putting all your effort into, but still end up barking the wrong tree.
You can work 16 hours a day but still be unsuccessful, so the important thing is to know where you are directing your effort.
If you want to know where your destiny is, check the areas you are always spending most of your time. Not where the passion is.
Don’t do something because you love it but rather love something because you have mastered the craft and become extremely good at it. Or rather, you don’t have to find your passion to become useful, instead, be useful first and that is where you will find your passion.
If you missed my previous post on How to start working on your goals even when you feel not ready yet, please go check it.
A Penny of My Thoughts
To wrap, here is what I learned and I think I should let you know. That:
- When you work hard at something, you become absolutely good at it.
- When you get good at that thing, you start enjoying it even more.
- Once you start enjoying something that you do, chances are that you will become passionate about it.
- When you become good at something, get passionate about it and work extra harder to be the best at it, good things often happen.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you also think that to follow your passion is more like subscribing to failure? Share your thoughts in the comments.