LIFESTYLE

Why “Follow Your Passion” is a Terrible Advice

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“Follow your passion”.

“Pursue your dreams”.

“Work you can do for free is the only type of work worth doing”.

In recent times, career advice similar to the ones shared above rank high on the lips of many life coaches and counsellors. As more people contemplate dissatisfaction with their career choices and work life, it is no wonder that bits of advice like these are accepted as fix-all solutions. Nonetheless, it is important that we examine these tips closely as adopting them hook, line and sinker might prove more harmful than we know.

From my experience talking with young people (Like myself), the advice to follow our passion is one that is very enticing to us, as we have replaced the definition of a career with luxury or convenience. We have allowed the pressure of making a statement on social media – taking a picture in a private jet with the hashtag #killingit – make us think career success is now void of hard work, patience and time. We think it is flashy and can be achieved overnight.

We have allowed the pressure of making a statement on social media - taking a picture in a private jet with the hashtag #killingit - make us think career success is now void of hard work, patience and time. Click To Tweet

Recently, a friend was sharing with me how many of her friends who started a photography business had started selling their cameras. They realized that photography was not as fun, easy, and fast paying as they thought, judging from the glitz and glamour they have seen from popular photographers on social media. But I can bet they once thought the had a passion for photography.

The truth is, there is no success without work.

Follow your passion, sounds more like “do what comes easiest to you”, but this is not always the case, this should not necessarily be the case.

Follow your passion, sounds more like “do what comes easiest to you”, but this is not always the case, this should not necessarily be the case. Click To Tweet

In a podcast, Adam Grant shared some amazing points demystifying the same popular advice – ”follow your passion”. Below, I will be sharing my note with you. To help you understand better, I will elaborate on some of the points and give clarity when necessary.

1. We often choose our passion early when we barely know anything about life, or what the future holds.

I wanted to become an Electrical and Electronics Engineer when I was barely 8 years old. At that time, I was in Primary school learning about batteries, electrons and other exaggeratedly basic stuff from Integrated Science. I knew nothing about the world of Engineering talk-less of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, but because I said it so frequently, everyone around me believed and repeated it back to me. I grew up believing it was my passion, so when I recently told my parents about my new career choice (5 years after getting a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering), they didn’t understand.

Your story might be similar to mine. You might have chosen a career of interest before becoming properly aware of what the career path entails.

You might have chosen a career of interest before becoming properly aware of what the career path entails. Click To Tweet

2. Most passions are not a true image of yourself but borrowed observed interest.

Even if your career choice was not decided on as a child, it is possible that it was gotten through observation. For example, if Funmi sees her “Digital Marketer” friend with full control of her time (working from home) and a diverse group of clients, it is easy for Funmi to desire the same life of freedom. In this case, Funmi now wants to pursue Digital Marketing not because she is passionate about growing business sales and increasing brand awareness but because she desires the promise of freedom that comes with that career path.

What often happens, as a result, is that we step into the path but struggle to keep up with the work.

Most passions are not a true image of yourself but borrowed observed interest. Click To Tweet

3. The search for passion leaves many indecisive, confused and lost.

I have many friends whose lives are passing them by simply because they are in search of their passion. They want to focus their time and energy only on that one thing they believe is worth their time; their passion. Many of them have not been able to fully express what pursuing their passion mean and as such are stuck, waiting.

Don't watch your life pass by simply because you are in search of passion. Click To Tweet

In his podcast, Adam Grant said: “Career passion is/should be a result of learning and mastering a skill”.

From this, we can see that career passion should be a goal, not the deciding factor.

Career passion should be a goal, not the deciding factor. Click To Tweet

Many professionals today have developed a fond passion for their current career path. For the majority of these professionals, the passion was developed over time in the process of working.

Career passion should be a goal, not the deciding factor. Click To Tweet

Passion comes with learning and mastering a skill to the point that you have tested and proven that skill.

So here is what I am trying to say: Instead of waiting to find your passion, start with where you are, start with your Diploma or University Qualification and let that inform your journey.

Passion is developed, not followed.

Passion is developed, not followed. Click To Tweet Instead of waiting to find your passion, start with where you are, start with your Diploma or University Qualification and let that inform your journey. Click To Tweet Passion comes with learning and mastering a skill to the point that you have tested and proven that skill. Passion is developed, not followed. Click To Tweet

It is better to set out on a path, to learn and realize it wasn’t right for you than to wait and not set out on any at all.

Like I always say, even if you don’t know what you want, know what you don’t want. There is such a thing as deciding by eliminating the unlikely options.

There is such a thing as deciding by eliminating the unlikely options; even if you don’t know what you want, know what you don’t want. Click To Tweet

4. Most passions are fantasies or luxuries that cannot be sources of livelihood in reality.

A lot of people are passionate about travelling, but how many people can make a career or a living out of travelling?

Every day, I scroll through my timeline on Instagram, someone is announcing the opening of their YouTube channel. Vlogging and podcasting seem to be the next cool, and yes, thousands are making a living off these media.

For many, it is their passion. They love to talk and enjoy sharing their knowledge. For many others, however, it is a necessary tool they adopted to achieve their career goal. Some even had to learn the art of vlogging or podcasting, it wasn’t a thing of passion but purpose.

Most passions are fantasies or luxuries that cannot be sources of livelihood in reality. Click To Tweet

Similar to point number 3 is my next point.

5. Some passions do not turn into a career so well/cannot be a career. Not all passions have a career outlet.

So, you decide on a line of work you are passionate about. A good question to ask is, can this put food on my table? Can I build a profitable career on this?

Sometimes, the answer to this question is dependent on your location or family background.

For example, If Bill Gate was my father, choosing a career looking at the sun (assuming that is my passion), will be easier. Do you get what I mean?

Furthermore, pursuing a career playing musical instruments like the clarinet or harp may not be promising in the current economic landscape in Nigeria.

Some passions do not turn into a career. Not all passions have a career outlet. Click To Tweet So, you decide on a line of work you are passionate about. A good question to ask is, can this put food on my table? Can I build a profitable career on this? Click To Tweet

6. Blind Focus on a Passion shuts your mind to your other interests.

I doubt that any human exists with just a single passion or interest from the time they attain self-awareness until they die. Human beings have multiple interests, which means when you are hell-bent on a single area of passion, you will most likely not realize, talk-less of developing other areas of interest. Other areas of interest which might hold the possibilities of a career opportunity.

Human beings have multiple interests, which means when you are hell-bent on a single area of passion, you will most likely not realize, talk-less of developing other areas of interest. Click To Tweet

Blindly following your passion makes you close-minded, which could be hazardous.

I probably would have never discovered the so many other areas I’m good at and passionate about if I had blindly held on to what I thought was my passion when I was a kid.

Blindly following your passion makes you close-minded, which could be hazardous. Click To Tweet

7. Passion and interest are learned and/or acquired, not a born trait. (Your passion aren’t necessarily your talent)

I have seen many people develop passion in areas that initially were oblivious to them, but with exposure, knowledge and practice in that field, they have grown to be passionate about that field.

People develop passion in areas that initially were oblivious to them, but with exposure, knowledge and practice, they have grown to be passionate about the area(s). Click To Tweet

You have every tendency to develop passion in anything you invest time and effort into. You have the tendency to pick up interest in areas of interest of people or culture around you. So passion isn’t inborn, it is learned or acquired. Why do you think some interest are more common in some areas as some others.

You have every tendency to develop passion in anything you invest time and effort into. Click To Tweet You have the tendency to pick up interest in areas of interest of people or culture around you. So passion isn't inborn, it is learned or acquired. Click To Tweet

Think of the first time you read about those groups of people living in remote villages and how the interest to reach out to them grew with every book, picture, documentary…you saw about them. For you, it might not be a forgotten settlement. It might be a cause, a tool, a people group…but do you remember how time, exposure, knowledge and effort contributed to your passion?

8. Passion isn’t the least path of restriction.

That you are facing difficulties in your chosen career field doesn’t mean it isn’t for you. Every success stories we celebrate today had their fair share of challenges and difficulties.

Passion isn't the least path of restriction, mediocrity is. Click To Tweet

That you are facing difficulties in your chosen career field doesn’t mean it isn’t for you. Click To Tweet Every success stories we celebrate today had their fair share of challenges and difficulties. Click To Tweet

Are you now convinced that the advice to “Follow Your Passion” is not a good one?

You’ll realize that the issue isn’t really about the counsel to follow your passion, but the fact that many haven’t been truly informed on what passion is and isn’t, how to differentiate fantasies from passion, how to stay committed to a cause and develop an interest in it, and how you won’t always love what is necessary yet not luxurious. If you leave it to everybody, who wouldn’t choose a life on the beach of Hawaii over wearing a suit and tie

The issue isn't really about the counsel to follow your passion, but the fact that many haven't been truly informed on what passion is and isn't, how to differentiate fantasies from passion, how to stay committed to a cause and… Click To Tweet

Check Out “I Quit My Job to Follow my Passion”, Okere Chisom; CEO, BEACE

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2 Comments

  1. Nice write up. Just one question though. If one doesn’t follow his/her passion, what then should they follow? And if you don’t follow your passion, do you just put it aside or what? OK, I think that’s two questions, lol.

  2. This is really enlightening, thank you Lifegiva.

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