3 Reasons “Follow Your Passion” Is Pretty Poor Advice

Ever been encouraged to follow your passion? Was it successful? If the answer is yes, then you are fortunate; most of the people I know would not be able to articulate their passion and follow it. In these days of Internet gurus, do you ever stop and think that maybe it is not the best advice. Now why would I say that? Here are 3 reasons why ‘follow you passion’ is pretty poor advice.

1. Do Any Of Us Know What Our Passion Is?

As a teenager my passion was dancing. I saw myself as a prima ballerina, then I got my growth spurt! My ambition changed from that to a professional dancer, I spent hours practicing and a fortune of my parents money in pursuing this passion.

Only to find that after my exams it had fizzled out, interfered with my social life too much. As a stay at home mom in my 30s, I decided cup cakes were my passion, now I make cupcakes, but cannot decorate them other than a basic topping.

Certainly not enough to earn a living, pay the rent on premises and all the overheads included in having a business. So, despite neighbors and some family saying, “follow your passion,” I resisted. What I am saying here is that our “passions” can change as we mature and our interests diversify and while enjoying them is one thing, being able to make a living from them is something else.

2. Do We Have A True Binding Passion Or A Fleeting Excitement?

We all know the thrill of a new passion, that feeling in your stomach, anticipation and trepidation, but is that enough to build a future? As I see it, true passion is something that is built up over time. It involves learning, expanding a skill base and learning to truly be absorbed into the work that you are passionate about.

That comes with spending time developing your passion; refining your skill and finding your autonomy. Not just dropping everything to follow an undeniably exciting project without thinking it through.

3. Are We Really Thinking About Following Our Passion Or Running Away?

In today’s consumer culture and fast life a lot is being lost. Fear of not having enough money to live off driving our need to work sometimes at any job that pays. This is leaving a lot of people feeling unfulfilled and dissatisfied by their work.

This climate is also a hothouse for resentments of work practices and colleagues. So the attraction of the self-fulfillment guru’s and mentors is easy to see. These people are making their living encouraging you to deal with elements of job dissatisfaction and feeling unfulfilled by telling you to follow your passion which does not in itself promise a change from what you are currently experiencing.

Rather than focusing on cultivating your career, they focus on making changes that encourages you to follow what excites you. Confucius is often quoted as an incentive to do this – “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is to me often interpreted to mean a quick fix when I personally agree with the school of thought that advocates a sustainable career. That is a career at which you can develop and in the process find a passion for it.

I am not advocating that staying a poor dead end job that you hate. Just that before you rush out to open a cupcake shop or become an eco guide for forest walks you ensure that is what you want to do. If it is, then spend the time to develop the necessary skills, expand your education and check the feasibility of doing it.

Alternatively, you could spend time doing this sort of analysis to improve the career you actually are in. Critically analyze what you are doing, where you want to go and how to get there, you might also find your passion while taking this route.

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