You need to be passionate about your work… LIES!
“You should be passionate about your work. Why would you settle for anything less?”
“Passion is important in your work. It’s the only way you’ll ever be happy.”
You’ve no doubt heard many statements like this from highly-respected influencers all over the world.
Heck, because of these statements, you might have been continually questioning yourself, your work, and maybe even your life.
I’m not sure when the “passion” craze started, but I hear about it waaaaay too often—especially from the mouths of creatives.
In fact, I think it’s self-sabotaging to believe we should all be passionate about our work.
Two misconceptions about passion
Before you passionates jump down my throat, let me jump down yours and explain why.
First, to say we should be passionate about our work is to put passion into a box—a very small one.
I come from a Mexican family. My first language is Spanish, and I didn’t visit restaurants like Applebees or the Cheesecake Factory until I was 19. Those two things alone should probably give you an idea of how I grew up differently from the stereotypical American.
You know what most Mexican families like mine are passionate about? They’re passionate about their kids, their family, and sometimes, God.
Should these kind of Mexicans find ways to make money off of their passions?
No, I didn’t think so. If they did, you’d probably say they were “cheapening” those relationships and taking advantage of the people they loved.
Don’t sell your passions short by demanding they be profitable.
Second, passionate people can be emotional people.
“Passion” is an uncontrollable emotion or an extremely strong desire, which means that passion can easily blind a person.
Emotional decisions and actions are behind the big mistakes in most people’s lives…and their businesses.
As professionals, we should make logical decisions that advance our business. Of course, emotions and desires will play a part in our daily motivations and the goals we set for ourselves as individuals.
But when passion gets involved, emotions and desires go through extreme highs and lows. Few people are built to sustain this roller coaster long-term.
Passion vs. enjoyment
So, if we’re not passionate, should we all just prepare to put up with boring work for the rest of our lives?
Absolutely not. At least not if you can help it.
Enjoyment is a much better long-term strategy.
Find work you enjoy.
There are plenty of people who aren’t passionate about what they do for a living. Still, they are able to live a fulfilling life full of passion outside of work.
Enjoyment gives you space to make sound decisions, and room to think logically. It’s difficult to be logical when you’re emotionally invested with passion.
Enjoyment is enough for you to show up everyday, since enjoyment usually engenders discipline and commitment. I’ve seen passionate people quit and even come to resent their work.
Being passionate doesn’t necessarily make you good at making money off of your passion.
Can you see the conflict? Being passionate about something you suck at making money with can turn your love into hate. Even then, you’ll spend your days bouncing back and forth until you develop skills to monetize your passion—most don’t make it that far.
With passion, it’s easy to try to climb Mount Everest in a day, only to feel like a complete wreck when you don’t succeed. With enjoyment, the daily small wins are good enough, and the failures aren’t near as devastating.
The BIG FAT LIE about passion
Passionates will have you believe that your dedication and discipline to your work is correlated with the passion you find therein.
This is a LIE!
You can be disciplined and dedicated to pretty much anything you’re not passionate about. Otherwise, habits wouldn’t exist.
There are people who aren’t passionate about their work who are dedicated, disciplined, happy, and very good at what they do. Yes, I promise these kinds of people exist!
Of course, it’s much better if you can find a way to make money doing something you truly enjoy. It’s definitely easier and more sustainable than going most of your life questioning whether every piece of your work is something you’re 100% passionate about.
So what are passions good for?
If all this is true, should passion just be disregarded and dismissed from our lives?
Not at all. Just be clear about what your true passions are, and realize that you don’t always have to make money off of them.
Actually, you might find it more fulfilling when you don’t expect to make money from your passions. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve always thought that when people don’t expect profit from their passions, they’re able to express love for their passion in its purest form.
This is why people who are passionate about family feel fulfilled by just spending time with their loved ones. The same goes for Christians who simply want to help and love people; they live their life accordingly with no thought of a monetary reward. Some people are passionate about traveling, and might be fulfilled doing just that even though they won’t make a single dime.
These kinds of people usually don’t expect or receive pay, but they remain fired up about living life. They’ve found a way to live out their passion without feeling like they need to make money off of it.
My firsthand experience
One of the most memorable and fulfilling seasons in my life was during my breakdancing days. I went a good two years before I ever got paid to dance. A part of me feels like I became good enough to get paid for dancing out of my sheer love for it. I never expected a buck from it. Just the opposite, in fact: I spent money to travel, dance, and compete during the first couple of years.
Whether I would have gotten paid or not, I felt fulfilled and amped about life. Getting paid just made the pie sweeter.
During that time, I worked at a foundry. Anyone who’s worked at a foundry knows how tough and even dangerous that line of work can be.
Was I passionate about working in a hot metal factory for 10 hours a day? Nope. But like many others who work outside of their passion, I showed up daily. I stayed motivated because I knew that hammering away at a foundry would give me money to live out one of my passions.
All I’m saying is…
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to make money from your passions, or that you never will. All I’m saying is that it’s usually not the best place to start.
Instead, find a niche of work you enjoy, and eventually your work will make room for you to live out your passions. Who knows, you might even make a good buck while you’re at it.