September 26, 2012, 6:00 am

Why You Shouldn’t Follow Your Passions Blindly

by: MD    Category: Alternative Income
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“Most people who claim they want to be excellent end up instead replying to e-mails and reading online marketing blogs.” – Cal Newport

Is “follow your passions” merely a slogan that we need to stop throwing out? Is it time to stop blindly chasing your passions?

Everyone tells you that you need to do what you’re passionate about. We should all just be passionate about passion itself. There’s no time for anything else but passion.

I’ve been looking into the reasoning here and the logic behind “follow your passions” type advice for the last few years.

I recently started reading the Study Hacks blog again. I’ve also probably consumed every piece of literature out there on unconventional career advice, from The $100 Startup to the classic 4-Hour Workweek. I wanted to gather my thoughts in an article.

Why should you NOT follow your passions?

This doesn’t mean anything.

This catchphrase doesn’t mean anything. It’s not real advice. It’s an easy way out of giving real advice or any productive help.

Nelson of Financial Uproar said it best over drinks (I was drinking, he wasn’t) last weekend at the Canadian Personal Finance Blogger Conference:

“Too many people are selling a dream. Nobody talks about putting your nose to the grindstone.”

That makes perfect sense and it ties into my next point…

You have to make real money.

It’s very noble to want to change the world or do something that matters. We all want to change the world and be passionate. However, the reality is that you still have to make real money at some point.

I recently wrote about why freelancing trumps blogging for long-term happiness and money. I’ve started to really hate passive income and online marketing advice about making money. I believe in making real money and getting paid what you’re worth.

What should you do instead of following your passions blindly? What makes more sense to try?

Develop a valuable skill.

I’ve realized that it makes much more sense to develop a real skill that equals results.

I don’t want to talk myself all of the time so I’ll use my friend Justin has an example. He loves to play the guitar and he enjoys teaching this skill to others.

Over the years Justin has developed his skills so well that he can charge higher rates than other guitar instructors. He found something that he was good at and developed this skill over time.

Add value.

If you don’t add value or help someone with something, you won’t make any money. Instead of worrying about what countries you want to travel to, I believe your main focus should be the value that you share with others.

Become the best at what you do.

To go on with my example from earlier, my friend Justin has done everything possible to become the best at what he does. He has invested a small fortune into new equipment and training.

I used to love reading marketing blogs and content on how-to make money. Then I realized that this was time wasted. Now I focus on my writing and targeting folks in their early-to-mid-20s.

If you become the best at what you do, you can charge higher rates and make more money.

This then leads to the next brilliant point…

Make some money.

If you don’t make any money from your ideas, then you just have a hobby. That’s fun and all, but a hobby won’t pay the bills.

Instead of worrying about passions, I suggest that you find a way to make some money. If you can’t think of even one way to make money, then you need to do something else.

Then you can quit and be passionate.

You can quit eventually. Just not right now.

I don’t get why everyone wants to quit their jobs right away. You can check out my quick guide to quitting if you want to leave your job in the near future. There’s no need to quit right now.

What about blogging for money, Martin?

You can classify me as someone that blogs for money since I blog and I make money. I’d like to consider myself someone that just got good at making money and keeping it. I enjoy making money and writing about it. Blogging for money is extremely tough and not worth it most of the time.

What’s the point of all of this? I just wanted to steer away from the typical advice that we all find online about following your passions and all of that fun stuff.

“Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.” — Anatole France

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Comments

Martin – Great book choices. Might I include ( Influence: The Power of Persuasion ) One of my fav’s about how people make decisions. Good for anyone trying to sell anything.
I was drinking too. It was loads of fun.

Common sense trumps dreaming. Thanks for the reminder… 🙂