In defense of passion (with the help of reason)

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
-Hegel

Last week, GRS published an article by April Dykman that presented some ideas by Ramit Sethi and Cal Newport about how “follow your passion” is bad career advice and what to do about it.

Sure, I guess. “Follow your passion” is bad advice. For one thing, it's terribly simplistic. It also assumes that everyone has a passion or even knows what that is. The fact that this is bad advice, however, doesn't imply that following your passion (and I mean a real passion, not an invented one) has to be a bad thing. Difficult maybe, irrational for sure, bad — it all depends on how you conduct yourself.

The article mentions the case of Jennifer, who after a lifetime of not knowing what she wanted

…decided to become a financial adviser. “I realized that working one on one with couples in their 20s to remove or stay out of debt is my passion.” But becoming a financial adviser meant giving up the flexible schedule that was so important to her. “When financial advising came into the picture, those [schedule] restrictions were thrown out the window, and the job hunt began.”

Seven months later, Jennifer was still “trying to figure it out.”

“I read numerous blogs, did all sorts of stupid psychometric tests, went to a career counselor, and…I even went to a psychic!” she says. “Yikes. I was very frustrated and disappointed with myself.”

I'd argue, if Jennifer's passion really was to work one-on-one with couples in their 20s, the flexible hours and psychics wouldn't have mattered to her. She would have done it anyway. Maybe part-time, maybe online, maybe from home, she would have found a way. Which leads me to conclude that flexible hours might have been her real passion, and she just didn't realize it at the time. “I will work flexible hours come hell or high water!” Now that's passion. Or maybe she just isn't passionate.

Defining the problem correctly prevents irrelevant solutions

My problem here has to do with how we define “passion.” I made a quick argument of it in my comments to that article, but I'd like to expand in that direction today.

Seems to me, Jennifer's idea, or the idea of career counselors, or whoever is responsible for this notion, is that your “passion” is some self-indulgent state that will give you instant rewards, will require no effort, and offers every guarantee success. Maybe that's the idea in current circulation, a kind of wishful and magical thinking, but I'm here to categorically refute that notion.

Passion is meant to be a tremendous, uncontrollable emotion, often identified with love, but also with the notion of “crimes of passion.” It's not really something one chooses, it's something that overtakes us, like a natural force, and more often than not, makes us act against reason. Western literature is full of such examples since antiquity: Helen and Paris, Guinevere and Lancelot, Juliet and Romeo. They are all overtaken by the gods, by magic, by irresistible nature; they defy all reason and logic and litter their paths with corpses.

Passions may come in high and low varieties, as a kind of either holy or demonic madness. It often ends badly for the individual, precisely because, good or bad, passion is larger than the individual. Passion is a junkie in search of a fix. And as any junkie or ex-junkie can tell you, they work 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no days off in their pursuit. Passion is also a monk leaving the world behind, in the paradoxical attempt to extinguish all passions. I've read some modern definitions of passion that attempt to differentiate between passion, obsession, and addiction, but I'm not sold. The ancients knew better–all passions are dangerous.

Passion is pain, not pleasure

The word passion comes from Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Thus, compassion means to suffer-with: the compassionate aren't immune to other people's pain. And passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched. It's not for the faint of heart or those who lack patience — which is not the ability to wait, but the ability to suffer.

Those who chase after a passion must be willing to endure it, and pay a price. Tolstoy knew this when he wrote Anna Karenina, so she lost her beloved son to her affair with Count Vronski. Beyond literature, passionate people pay with anything from hunger and poverty and sickness to utter and dismal failure; political passions can end in imprisonment, torture, and assassination. Are you sure you want a “passionate” life?

Of course, there's the sublime delight of triumph, of redemption, of peace achieved, of reunion with the beloved, of freedom at last conquered. But where did you get the notion that these are guaranteed results? That's hilarious!  Even the ABC Wide World of Sports knew that the thrill of victory is inseparable from the agony of defeat.

The passionate are a little different

Cal Newport admits that there are people who do have a clear passion. The problem is that this is a small group, and what applies to them doesn't necessarily apply to every one else. However, I am more concerned with the reverse problem, which occurs when we try to apply what works for everyone else to passionate people, and in the process, we damage them. In the words of William Blake, “The eagle never lost so much time, as when he submitted to learn of the crow.”

Passionate people don't think much of what is safe, convenient, or easy. They follow their calling, and charge ahead, despite the difficulty or long odds. What matters to them is a sense of mission, the pursuit of an ideal, the achievement of a goal or a victory, often regardless of cost.

Passionate people might have little concern for work-life balance; their work is their life, and those who don't like it will achieve little by complaining about this fact. I know of a violinist whose wife said to him, “I wish you loved me the way you love that instrument.” Of course, they divorced, but he continued playing the violin until his death.

Yes, passionate people are far from being perfect human beings. In fact, they are probably more imperfect than your average citizen, but I'd argue they are necessary and indispensable to the advance of civilization. And if we stuff them in a cubicle and medicate them and demand that they act normal, it's everybody's loss.

How to cope when you have a real “passion”

This isn't research-based, but based on my own experience and seeing other people succeed and fail at “passion” careers, and many years of therapy.

1) Don't deny yourself. If you are accursed with a passion for a certain type of work-life continuum, please don't try to squelch it in order to please others. It will only make you hate yourself and resent the people who made you do it, and you'll end up living the rest of your life on antidepressants. You're driven by something larger than yourself — honor your calling, follow your star, and accept the consequences of your choice.

2) Give it your best. Some of us go halfway and take “insurance,” so that if we fail we can say “I wasn't really trying.” Stop making excuses and go all-out. Success is, of course, not guaranteed, but if you fail, at least you'll know how to do better the next time. After his “Dune” fiasco, David Lynch came back with “Blue Velvet.” After surviving Valley Forge, the American Continental Army went on to win the Revolutionary War (though it took them five years).

3) Use reason for your own ends. Reason is a tool, not a goal. Motivation is the result of emotion, and passion will lead the way — but it might not get you where you need. Trying to be reasonable won't work for you, so recruit reason to serve your passion instead. Going by passion alone is bound to get you bankrupt, ill, and dead before your time — learning rational skills  in the support of your life's mission can be priceless. If you just don't have such abilities, please read the next item.

4) Find a community of supporters. You don't want to spend your life arguing with your mate about why you spend so many hours working on your invention, organizing your revolution, training for your next triathlon, or studying for your qualifying exams. You want someone who loves you for who you are, admires you for what you do and is willing to lend a hand when you need it. Moreover, you don't need to do your work on your own. If you're a passionate person, the right partner or the right team might be what you need to soar.

5) Say no and say it often. As you pursue your passion, there will be many temptations along the road, some apparently harmless ones, some downright unethical, but either can take you away from your path. The artist might be offered a full-time teaching job and end up abandoning his work. The social reformer could receive funding and betray the cause. The entrepreneur will surely be asked to compromise her core principles to go after a larger market. The athlete might be asked to throw a game, or the scientist be told to change the results of the experiment. If you don't want to kill your passion, and yourself with it, learn to say “no” and accept the consequences–even if that means that you'll have to get a day job to support doing what you love the most.

More about...Career, Psychology

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Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle
Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle
7 years ago

I am very passionate about my low paying health care job and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Some days I think it would be easier to go to some boring desk job and just do whatever they require you to do instead of always being run off your feet and mentally and emotionally drained at the end of the day. Then, when I do have the occasional quiet day, when the filing can be caught up on I find the day drags forever and I a bored. I can’t imagine spending years stuck somewhere that you hate or is… Read more »

M
M
7 years ago

Thanks for all you do. I know you often encounter people who aren’t their best when sick and vulnerable. But a caring, intuitive health care worker often can be a soothing balm to the experience. Me, I always wanted to apologize about the bedpan.

AMW
AMW
7 years ago

Well said El Nerdo! I think many confuse “like” with passion. One additional thing I’d like to point out is that passions can evolve and/or change. Careerwise passion can morph as opportunities arise and life changes. By morphing, I mean that you can be passionate about something and go after it a certain way and then along comes an opportunity that gives you a chance to come at it from a different direction or even combine it with another passion. I find, however, that is almost never convenient.

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago

I think the desire for financial independence falls into the passion category for me as you’ve defined it El Nerdo. And somewhere behind that is the desire for control and autonomy. Having achieved it for myself however, I now feel compelled to get my kids there too much faster than I (I started late) – whether they want it or not. They’re too young yet to know if that’s what they want too but things are looking positive. It’s good because it should take another 5-10 years to get them both there. 🙂 Bloggers like Early Retirement Extreme and Mr… Read more »

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Well, there’s a certain aspect of newbies coming to religion (complete with moralizing, smugness and just generally not recognizing that other people don’t share your values and that’s really quite all right) in some FI/ER/PF blogs or forums. Maybe it bothers me because I have an older kid and have learned the folly of imposing your values on someone else and not letting them follow their own bliss. I don’t read those types anymore because (a) I never needed the face-punch or whatever to reach my goals and (b) the conflation of the means and the end sort of disturbs… Read more »

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

I suspect MMM’s passion is restoring houses– he doesn’t update the blog with the same intensity. Also, his wife is no longer working. (Yes, I read through the entire archives from oldest to newest the other month…)

Jacq
Jacq
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

Oh my gosh Nicole – the whole archives?!? I think I was too traumatized / had deja vu back to childhood by the evils of Dairy Queen post. And I don’t even like ice cream! My favorite ER bloggers are Retired Syd and Brave New Life. They’re moderates and focus more on how to live vs. how to spend. The (not) spending part is the easy part (for me anyway). Most people really need to learn how to find something they are excellent at and have the confidence and experience to make it pay well. Then generally, FI is just… Read more »

SunTzuWarmaster
SunTzuWarmaster
7 years ago
Reply to  Jacq

I, personally, like never hitting 10,000 hours, and moving on to the next difficult project as soon as I accomplish the previous one. There are bonus points for having multiple projects simultaneously. Current project list (every day a little of each): – cross-compilation of C++/Python code – AI for making sense datastreams in realtime – educational technology development – various governmental/contractual efforts – solar panels – cooperative storytelling – cooking a nutritionally complete meal without meat in under 30 minutes, for under $2 per serving – diabolo – getting a PhD – getting an “at home” MBA – investment skill… Read more »

RockySense
RockySense
7 years ago

Great article! I liked how you didn’t sugarcoat the difficulties of following one’s passion while defining exactly what that meant. I also appreciated how you admitted that two jobs might be necessary – one that’s your passion, and one that helps pay the bills.

I also agree with AMW – passions can morph over time, and you can have more than one passion (although that sounds exhausting!).

Mikaelo
Mikaelo
7 years ago
Reply to  RockySense

I also agree on the idea that passion can evolve. But I do hope that people would not confuse “not being passionate” with “just having an evolving passion.” Some people try to justify that they are passionate at what they do, when in fact, they know it in their hears that they just like them… thus they skip from one field to another.

nicoleandmaggie
nicoleandmaggie
7 years ago

I went to a neat talk the week before last showing that people who are passionate about the mission of their work tend to make less. It makes sense– they’re willing to be paid less to do something that they enjoy or that helps people. Is that exploitative?

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
7 years ago

Sort of off topic, but now the title “passion of the christ” makes more sense. I never understood it, but now I see that passion is a painful or bad thing — THanks for clearing that up, man, lol.

Mikaelo
Mikaelo
7 years ago

Well, the article says that passion is not necessarily a bad thing… it can be good or bad or both, but definitely difficult, but worth it.

graduateliving
graduateliving
7 years ago

I completely agree. I think there is a sense in which people have come to see “passion” as synonymous with “hobby” (whatever happened to hobbies!?)

I think the distinctions you draw here are really insightful, and important (particularly since so many young people are being advised to “follow their passions” for their futures – not that there’s anything wrong with that per se, as long as they [and the people giving advice] know what that entails…)

RachH
RachH
7 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I have known for a long time that I’m not meant for being trapped in a cubicle all of my working life. As soon as my husband gets through his last semester here and makes his career change, I’m going back to school myself to make the change I’ve always known I needed but could never afford to do before. Thank you for this!

Sarah
Sarah
7 years ago

Could passion also be interpreted as a source of endless energy that keeps you engaged and moving. For many work is perseverance and discipline, but for the passionate few they do not seem to suffer the pain of summonsing energy to engage in their work. I think trying to find our passion is one of removing the hard work of a task or job. So passion for me is about the source of work energy.

Another Kate
Another Kate
7 years ago

Thank you for redefining passion for me. Now I realize that my true passion in life, no kidding, is to define my own work hours and work location.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago

I am a little confused because the quote you give from Jennifer: “When financial advising came into the picture, those [schedule] restrictions were thrown out the window, and the job hunt began,” to me implies she THOUGHT flexible schedules were her passion until she found financial advising, and then she realized she was willing to give up flexibility to pursue something she loved. All your other points are valid, though. I was EXTREMELY passionate about academia, which is why I resigned myself to being poor and got the PhD. It wasn’t until I got the job I have now that… Read more »

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Thanks for the clarification!

SomeGuy
SomeGuy
7 years ago
Reply to  Honey Smith

Honey Smith, what method have you found to get your academia fix outside the traditional paths (e.g., a PhD/teaching)?

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  SomeGuy

Currently I work at a university, though I don’t teach. I do have enough interaction with students to feel like I am helping people. And I can take up to 3 classes/semester for $25 (though I haven’t done this yet). I guess I should clarify – there are ways to get my academia fix off the tenure track.

M
M
7 years ago

I think my new passion is reading El Nerdo’s insights on life and money 🙂 And thank for reminding us that passionate work can require great fortitude. I was very fortunate to know my life’s work at about age four. Just wanted to be a biologist. Never deviated from that goal and enjoyed college immensely despite my parents’ misgivings. Grad school– THAT was hard and dispiriting (and long). I left sadder, wiser but knew my talent was in teaching, not research. Been teaching now for 20+ years and grateful for the experience!

HardCandy
HardCandy
7 years ago
Reply to  M

I find your experience enlightening in some way. If I may ask, how did you realize that your heart lies on teaching biology, and not research?

M
M
7 years ago
Reply to  HardCandy

I just seemed so much happier interacting with people, exchanging ideas and helping foster awareness than I did chasing grant money. My advisor thought I took the easy way out but it was the right decision for me.

HKR
HKR
7 years ago

I liked this article almost as much for how it read- almost poetically- as for its insightful and thought-provoking content. Thanks El Nerdo.

Nate
Nate
7 years ago

Thanks for that. I’m at that point where I almost tune out immediately when the word passion pops up. Something that you point out which is so important is that passion may not have to do with a job. I love to fly planes and I persued that love to a career. But my passion is my family. I accept a lower paying career track to maximize my time with the people I care about. I perceive the word passion is most often used in the context of making money, or finding a career when it’s just as possible, perhaps… Read more »

Alexandria
Alexandria
7 years ago

I read something about passion somewhere recently and was rolling my eyes at all the comments. Seems a lot of people confused “hobbies” with “passion.” I think that is their first mistake. (A lot of mention like what if you get bored with your passions? HA!) I personally have a passion for numbers and finance. I come from a long line of family with high-earning type passions. (Lots of math types – generally actuaries – and CPAs and engineers). I have never understood why it is always painted as passion/poor versus highly-paid/unhappy. This is never what I saw growing up.… Read more »

Emma | iHELP students loans
Emma | iHELP students loans
7 years ago

I like your balanced approach to this issue. It’s a struggle for all of us, but it’s true – if you’re very passionate about something, the best thing to do is to try and find a way to turn your passion into your career. Failing that, passions do make wonderful hobbies.

Red star
Red star
7 years ago

Thank you for more truthful insight into passion. I own my business and as I’ve become more successful, resilient, and focused that having the right partner (and home life) and working with people who support your vision make it a heck- uv- a-lot smoother ( not necessarily easier). Never said passion equalled a perfect life-balance, but it sure brings a heightened state of meaning and fire to what I do and motivates me beyond the conventional….

Ely
Ely
7 years ago

I am not a passionate person. I have things that I enjoy, but nothing is hell-or-high-water.
That’s ok with me.

Evan
Evan
7 years ago

My only caveat about this article is that it pretty much states that one’s partners should absolutely love you and your “passions” unreservedly.

Well, yeah. But life intervenes and sometimes responsibilities trump passions, at least for awhile.

But I understand this view will not be popular in 21st century me-centered America.

Jackie
Jackie
7 years ago
Reply to  Evan

I don’t think it is “me centered” to want someone to accept your passions – because if BOTH partners accept the other’s passion, then they are being generous and thoughtful about the needs of the other. That’s the basis for a good relationship.

Nick
Nick
7 years ago

“Passion is pain, not pleasure”

I just want to let you know that this made lightning bolts go off in my head! My perspective on passion is turned completely upside-down now. That is awesome because I felt blocked on the subject but now I will rethink things. Excellent article.

Honey Smith
Honey Smith
7 years ago
Reply to  Nick

It reminds me so much of Irving Stone’s biography of Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy

Kristin
Kristin
7 years ago

Really enjoyed this Nerdo, and your last five bits of advice were so inspirational and motivating. Needed that this morning!

Janice
Janice
7 years ago

I believe finding one’s passion is recognizing your talents and intersecting them with the needs of others. That could make you a happy employee, a successful entrepreneur or an enthusiastic hobbyist. One of the best definitions of talent I’ve found is in First, Break All the Rules, a book about management, but the authors break down talent (that which is uniquely you) into 3 parts: striving (why you do things), thinking (how you do things) and relating (who you do things with or for). Striving talents would be your drivers–what gets you going; i.e., do you want to please, are… Read more »

HardCandy
HardCandy
7 years ago
Reply to  Janice

The battle between spontaneity and order got me thinking very deeply… because I do not know which one I like better. Spontaneity gives me anxiety, but order makes me bored. So yeah, I need help figuring it out.

Sara
Sara
7 years ago

Thank-you for providing this insight into what passion truly is. I’ve spent a lot of my time and energy lamenting the fact that I don’t have life’s passion. I like my job, but I don’t leap out of bed in the morning to race to work. I love my family, but I don’t want to spend every waking moment with them. I used to think that not having a passion was either because I haven’t found “it” yet, or that I was somehow a defective human being. As you point out – the few people in life who truly have… Read more »

HardCandy
HardCandy
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Still, I think people who do not have a passion miss a lot, and while passionate people are not necessarily role models for the ones who are not passionate, they deserve to be at some point… because people who are passionate are the ones that change the world. But I agree that one can still live a good life without it.

P.S. Sorry for the redundancy of the word “passionate.”

Sara
Sara
7 years ago
Reply to  HardCandy

See, this is what I mean when I feel like a defective human being. If I don’t have a passion, then I can’t change the world. I will miss a lot. To me, that’s almost like telling someone who doesn’t marry or have children that they can’t have a meaningful life. Like I said – I like my job and enjoy what I do. I love my family. I have an active part in my church and local community. I have hobbies. But apparently without having a passion I’m somehow missing out and can’t have a meaningful life. I’ve spent… Read more »

Ely
Ely
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Sara, right there with you, sister. :-/

robytherabbit
robytherabbit
7 years ago
Reply to  Sara

I somehow agree with both you and HardCandy. You’re right, you can still live a meaningful life. But I think HC means that it’s not gonna be as meaningful as those who are passionate with something. Because passion is intensity, that certain “high” that you would do even without rewards or something. You’ll live a meaningful life, but not with the same level. But yeah, that’s okay.

GayleRN
GayleRN
7 years ago

El Nerdo and Robert Brokamp can stay. The rest of you can go now.

Old Guy
Old Guy
7 years ago
Reply to  GayleRN

I think all the judgemental critics should leave. But then again, I’m not a professional blogger like all the other readers. Why listen to me?

krantcents
krantcents
7 years ago

the perfect example of following your passion is acting! People who want to be actors are willing to do anything including waiting on tables and other menial jobs so they can follow their passion. They will do it for years even when success is not forthcoming. I think everyone who wants something could learn from people who want to be actors.

El
El
7 years ago
Reply to  krantcents

Ah, I was going to say ‘writers’. Writers know that most will never hit it big or be published by a big house. They write for themselves and a few friends. And it’s enough.

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
7 years ago

I respectfully submit that this article too narrowly defines passion. While I agree that a passion is a fire that burns within and can hurt, it does not mean it must only be defined as an uncontrollable wildfire that burns everything in its path. Pati can mean both suffering AND enduring. I believe that passion is unquenchable–no matter how much time you spend on it, it is never enough. But that doesn’t mean I should or will devote 24/7 until it is completed or done. In fact, I would assert that if you have a passion, there is never a… Read more »

phoenix1920
phoenix1920
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

One of the things that make you such a wonderful contributor are your comments–fair, measured, and definitely witty. The comment regarding passion and the host almost made me spit out my coffee! I completely agree that the intensity of the passion does not lessen but deepens. It is the difference we feel for our partners when we first met–erratic heartbeat and all– compared to how our lives resolve around them even more, but in different way, after 17 years of marriage But, if I may, for one writing in defense of passion, you sure sound awful scared and negative about… Read more »

Edward
Edward
7 years ago

I never understood people automatically trying to make your “passion” your “job”. I *loved* playing in a punk band in the 90s, but trying to make money at it would have sucked all the fun out of it! I like travelling. A lot. But if I had to write everything about it, get sent on assignments, take magazine quality photos, it would suck! I like editing home videos. Do it for a living and with other peoples’ footage? No thanks! I adore writing and may even get a book out there some day. But if I *had to* write books… Read more »

jim
jim
7 years ago

I absolutely agree that the ‘follow your passion’ advice is as you say “terribly simplistic”. I also agree that the word passion is too strong of a emotion.

Darnell Jackson
Darnell Jackson
7 years ago

Excellent post brother nerdo,

My fav line:

“Defining the problem correctly prevents irrelevant solutions”

This seems to be where people get stuck.

They start applying fixes and they actually haven’t even identified the problem in the FIRST PLACE.

Cat
Cat
7 years ago

Just because you have a passion doesn’t mean it has to take over your entire life. You can still be passionate about things on the side, and not do it as a career, investing a lot of time, effort, and according to the definition, suffering into this passion.

Some people are able to do a job during the day and then focus on what they love around their main bread winning career. Others can’t separate that and they get torn.

Mikaelo
Mikaelo
7 years ago
Reply to  Cat

… or get rewarded

Digital Personal Finance
Digital Personal Finance
7 years ago

It all comes down to happiness and satisfaction with one’s quality of life. For some, basic needs are what matter most, and they can do without many material things while they pursue a dream vocation. For others, the happiness and satisfaction come from more material things. I like the idea of pursuing what you’re passionate about, but within reason. If it means that your financial future will be murky, and you won’t be able to provide for your family, then can one even be selfish for pursuing a passion at the expense of money? After all, things change when there… Read more »

ColeVier
ColeVier
7 years ago

That’s why it is almost impossible not to look up and admire people who are able to follow their passion, but also provide well for their family. Passion and practicality have always been in a constant battle. But the article’s intelligent formula of passion + reason shows that if you play your cards right, you do not have to compromise your passion or/and your loved one’s financial security.

Cat
Cat
7 years ago

@Digital Personal Finance Well put! I was trying to pull about this post and think about how there is a balance and your comment makes far more sense than mind. I like it.

bg
bg
7 years ago

LOVED THIS.

Thank you, from a passionate person.

KSR
KSR
7 years ago

“The only time I’ve ever witnessed *true passion* was in the writhing of an addict.
The only time I’ve ever seen *true contentment* was in the eyes of my dying Grandmother.”

I always repeat this to my friends in the heat of discussion when I see they may need to commit to the— now. Funny how they now throw those words back at me!

Just an exceptional article, Nerdo. Absolutely loved it.

Self Improvement Quotes
Self Improvement Quotes
7 years ago

I agree to follow your passion but – as you said above – follow the real passion not the invented one.

In 3 times of my life when I followed my passion I succeeded to reach what I want. And the 3 times was in my career.

But don’t make your passion your suffering.
You have to check out your passion well before starting and then go on and never stop till reach your top.

Thanks a lot for your article.

Sharon Nani
Sharon Nani
7 years ago

Fascinating post and comments, but it seems to me that too many people forget that we’re all individuals, each with our own unique upbringing, talents, conditioning, personality, desires, etc. There is no “one size fits all” and thank goodness for that! What a boring world it would be if everyone was the same. I’m a person with a passion for music who often envied my friends who had regular jobs. I would have LOVED to have a steady income and only one W-2 when it came time to file taxes. But every time I tried to quit and do something… Read more »

Ely
Ely
7 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Nani

Your second paragraph says it all, really.

I once had a job in a creative field. It was the type of field where you could have either a career or a life, but not both. I was surrounded by people who were passionate about the work, who could do nothing else. I wasn’t one of them, so I got out.
My associates who stayed have been reasonably successful, but the price they have paid is not one I was willing to myself.

ColeVier
ColeVier
7 years ago
Reply to  Ely

If I may ask, what specifically was your job in the creative field?

Babs
Babs
7 years ago

If you want to be successful, it’s just this simple. Know what you are doing. Love what you are doing. And believe in what you are doing. –Will Rogers, humorist and social commentator.

I really liked this post. I work with artistic types as a support person. Like Alexandria I work with the numbers (I’m not a CPA though darn it!). We do a lot of probono work for good causes also which I appreciate. Lots of good food for thought here. Thanks!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
7 years ago
Reply to  Babs

Love the quote 🙂 That sums it up for me!

Emily
Emily
7 years ago

Very insightful, it reminds me of my early twenties when I had a bit of an identity crisis when I realized that I wasn’t an artist. It mostly came down to passion, I like drawing/painting/creating but it wasn’t my passion, so I couldn’t get past the drawbacks to pursue that life.

Now I’m happy with my creative life being a hobby/ side-gig, but that’s also meant learning that I shouldn’t try to ‘find my passion’ in another career. I don’t want my work to be my life because it’s so important to me to maintain those outside of work activities.

Mikaelo
Mikaelo
7 years ago
Reply to  Emily

So what’s your job, if I may ask?

Emily
Emily
7 years ago
Reply to  Mikaelo

For several years I worked as a Dietitian and had a home based jewelry business.

Currently it’s a bit more complicated as I’m back in school full time. I closed my business for now to make room for school work, but I’m careful to leave myself with other creative outlets. (for example at the beginning of my winter break I did piece work for a friend who was in the midst of her holiday rush)

Mikaelo
Mikaelo
7 years ago
Reply to  Emily

I think you did it cleverly. You get to have the best of both worlds. What are you studying now?

Cassi
Cassi
7 years ago

I personally don’t know what my “passion” is, and I hate that. I have things that I enjoy doing, but I don’t feel like I should call them my passion. I adore physics and math and numbers, but I’m not sure I could call them my passion, which has always been my problem when people talk about passions.

FluffSnake
FluffSnake
7 years ago

I agree that “following your passion” is not very useful advice. I’ve found that when I worked at jobs that matched my abilities, I have succeeded. This is the key, not the type of work or salary or work hours or responsibilities. I am a very good “second banana”. I can take directions and complete projects. I am conscientious and dependable. I have a good memory and a good phone voice. I can work alone or with others. I enjoy research. There are many occupations which fit my characteristics and many which do not. For example, I would not be… Read more »

Fluffsnake
Fluffsnake
7 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Is there a word that fits between interests and passions? I think that’s what we are all looking for here. Passions come and go. They whipsaw you and take over your life. I’m not sure anyone really wants to live a passionate life. Watching somebody live a passionate life might be entertaining for a while. Isn’t the good life what we all aspire to? Maybe the word I’m looking for is ‘love’. I’ve been considerating leaving my current career for something different. I’ve been in the same profession for 35 years and with the same company for 23. I’m seeing… Read more »

Chris Cavallari
Chris Cavallari
7 years ago

Exellent! I read that post about following one’s passion being a bad thing, and while I agreed with some of the points, the overall tone of the post was wrong.

Passion is important in our careers and our lives, and it’s not something that can be forced. It is what drives us to do and be better in our lives so that, as you point out, the pain of passion is replaced by the sublime delight of triumph.

Kelly@Financial-Lessons
7 years ago

I really loved this post. Its true that people with passion seem to have more drive but its only because they already know the path they want to take and that gives them the momentum to pursue it with all of their energy. I have always been jealous of those who are confident in their passion and identified it early because it definitely was easier to figure out what to do with their lives, it seems. You’re right in that society needs these people who hone in on their passion to advance our world. Great article!

Jessica G
Jessica G
7 years ago

I read this post first, and then went back to read April’s – you really hit the nail on the head with the oversimplification of passion (and correctly defining the problem). In my experience, something that you are passionate about can’t be put down, system or no system. No matter where you go, it pops back up. I love this particular line from you: “Passion is meant to be a tremendous, uncontrollable emotion… It’s not really something one chooses, it’s something that overtakes us, like a natural force…” While some people are built for systematizing their lives and then falling… Read more »

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