Pursue your passion and the rest will follow naturally? That’s not true. Truth is, it may actually be detrimental advice which will wreak havoc in your career and life.
The budding young person thinks that blogging or video blogging is the path to success since they love to write about things, an executive that wants to quit the office job because cooking is what he/she enjoys, and since entrepreneurism is now going mainstream globally, everyone can now start a business on what they are passionate about. The general advice is as long as you are pursuing your passion, you will find success because all the work that you do will be so effortless and meaningful that you actually find it fun!
I agree that it’s good advice, but have you ever considered that what you thought was your passion is perhaps not at all? People don’t realize that passions are not ingrained into your subconscious mind or that you were born from day one to love a particular task. In fact, I strongly doubt it when people say “when I was a kid, I knew that my passion was bla bla bla bla bla”.
Passion Requires Time
Passion is developed and nurtured over time. Your surroundings, friends, parents, upbringing, opportunities and personal experiences all contribute in making your passion unique to just yourself. Of course, at this point the question you are probably asking is why would following my passion be detrimental then?
It becomes really bad advice when one hangs on to their passion as the one and only truth. This would be more prevalent in the younger generation (but certainly not just limited to them) because we are thought every day to ‘pursue our passion’. How would you know your passion if you haven’t even explored 1/10th of what the world has to offer? When you have not met people from diverse cultures, age groups, and experience? When you have not a chance to fail miserably and learn from it?
Give it time. Don’t panic or sweat if everyone seems to know what they love doing and you don’t. We all have our own timeline, our unique set of experiences and journey in life. Sometimes, the opportunity or timing just hasn’t arrived yet and taking an alternate decision as a stepping stone may actually help you develop your real passion.
Don’t dismiss something as not being your passion just because you suck at it. Try it out, give it dedication and effort. You’ll be surprised on what you can achieve with time, effort and discipline. To illustrate a personal example, I remember when I was around 7 years old, my mum allowed me to draw and paint on the wall in our dining room during a renovation. Halfway through, I told my mum to just paint the whole wall white because I felt I was making terrible progress as the paint on the wall sketches didn’t turn out as I envisioned. I got instantly scolded by my mum to finish the job that I had started. Terrified, I labored on and it didn’t turn out that bad (unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it). I still remember it was a painting of the characters from the Pixar movie ‘A Bug’s Life’.
Let all this shape your passion and allow it to evolve and grow along with you.
Is Your Passion Marketable?
The ‘follow your passion’ advice becomes worse when it’s misinterpreted for an easy job or one that they just enjoy doing with the least effort required. Then they go on a crazy chase after that elusive dream job whether it’s through job-hopping or starting a business.
One last thing to keep in mind when pursuing your passion, is whether your passion is relevant and if it offers something useful to the world? I am sure some people would be interested in whatever you have to offer given how globalized today’s world is, but if your passion is collecting and analyzing bottle caps or playing video games, maybe you should reconsider your rate of success of turning it into a full-time career.