Follow Your Passion is Bad Advice

“Follow your passion.”

You hear this everywhere these days.  Talk shows, in print, online.  It has slowly and surely crept into our daily vernacular until finally reaching a point where it has become an accepted truism. You don’t even need to say the entire phrase anymore, just mention the word – “passion” – and people start to nod and exchange knowing glances.

The trouble with following your passion is that quite often it doesn’t lead you to the destination that you thought it would.  This in turn leads to a shiftless generation with little work ethic.  The only “grit” they display is under their finger nails.

The internet abounds with articles that discuss how you should be leveraging your current job towards earning your next one, or setting up your side hustle while getting paid by your current employer.  I can appreciate knowing your worth on the open market, but working for your own private gain while being paid well to do a job for somebody else isn’t just morally wrong, it is actively stealing from them.  Not to mention that the average knowledge worker now statistically only puts in a fraction of their hours actually doing any of that work.  The rest of the time is spent on the mostly pointless time suck that is social media.

The kicker of this entire scenario is that all of these people worked hard to get the jobs that they are now actively hoping to abandon in favor of this passion that they post about and stencil on their dining room wall.  Four years of post secondary education in many instances, for a position that at one point they were, dare I say it? – passionate for.

The Good Old Days

Remember the day you got your job?  That was a good day.  Maybe you hired on in the mail room and harbored a tiny dream in the back of your mind that one day you would be in the C-suite.  Fast forward a couple of years and you’ve moved on up to a middle manager position.  A great achievement in itself, but now interest starts to wane.  Dreams of “following your passion” take root.  To become a famous novelist perhaps.  Never mind that not a word has been written during the past 10 years.

What ever happened to the mentality of “staying the course” and “putting in the work”?  Not very sexy these days when billion dollar takeovers involving teenagers are making  headlines.  Unfortunately I’ve got some bad news.  If you haven’t had your billion dollar takeover yet then it’s probably not going to happen.

Does that matter?

Are we so invested in the lives of perfect strangers that we can’t see the beauty of what we already have?  Accomplishment, comfort, fulfillment – it’s all relative.  One man’s trash is another’s treasure and so on.

Consider This

The job that you rail against, that is holding you back from your true calling; consider the things that it IS doing for you.  I’ll start:

  • Putting a roof over your head
  • Clothes on your back
  • Food on your table
  • Providing for your family
  • Enabling those nights out on the town

You’ve probably even got a bit of money left over to dabble in the hobby that is your “passion”.  And that’s a good thing!  I’m not against having something on the side that you do for pleasure.  But I am against renouncing everything that got you to where you are, that allows you to do that hobby for pleasure, and keeps you constantly looking for the next thing that will make you “happy”.

This isn’t just me talking.  Read a book. 1  Studies show that satisfaction doesn’t come from chasing dreams.  It comes from doing something really well.  And THIS comes from doing something for a really long time.  Nose to the grindstone style.

Put In The Work

When you go to work, do a good job.  Just because you feel that your current lifestyle doesn’t match your calling does not give you the excuse to act poorly.  How you choose to conduct yourself in a less than ideal situation reflects more on who you are as a person than anything else.  Character is what you do when nobody is watching.

I’m not saying that you can’t dream big and work towards your goals.  But be honest with yourself.  Is this a dream, or is this a goal?  Goals have plans, timelines, next actions.  Dreams have… passion.

If you worked for years to get to where you are now – stay the course.  Starting at the bottom of a new industry may seem exciting, but it’s going to be a rude awakening.  When the going gets hard and your new job starts to feel less like passion and more like work, what ethic will carry you through now, that was unable to carry you through then?

Do your job better than everybody around you and take your satisfaction from that.  Follow your effort.  2 Become passionate about what you do.  Enjoy the fruits of your labors and the freedoms they afford you.  Freedoms like dabbling in something that you like.  Just don’t mistake the Grind for a bad thing.  Everything you do in life requires hard work at some point.

Even your passion.



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2 thoughts on “Follow Your Passion is Bad Advice

  1. What a great article, it is so true. It is said that it takes 10.000 hours to master a skill. That is really a lot of hours, so the question is, do you want to invest that much in changing your course. You can with at lot less effort put passion in your job.

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