Do whatever makes you happy is a lie

I woke up in the middle of the night and the title is the sentence that was spinning in my mind. I couldn’t sleep, so I took my computer and started writing this.

I’m an entrepreneur who started building my startup because it’s what I thought would make me happy. As a web developer, I just wanted to build that product that was hot in my mind for some months. It was a great idea, the opportunity (personal savings) was there, and there was basically no one who could stop me.

The first day was amazing. I left home, bicycled to my favorite café, and started drafting what I considered to be the most awesome web community platform ever, Iroquote. The freshness of ideas and possibilities was so powerful it could keep me smiling the whole day and even influence others to get the same feeling.

One of the drafts I made while being super excited about the future.

The next three months were even more awesome. Things started getting real, hype started to build up, I met lots of people, famous ones too like Phil Libin, and there was no estimate of the situation getting worse. Everything seemed possible to me. You know that story. Living everyday how you want to, not how you need to.

Today, a year later, the feeling is not really the same. And it comes down to a simple problem: money. I don’t mean that my bank account is empty. The startup is just not (yet) profitable, not until it becomes mainstream. And because I’m not in Silicon Valley nor NYC and I don’t have many connections, telling investors that the startup makes no revenue is a joke to them. Even if it would get investment, most investors would typically push me to make money as soon as possible.

With or without investors, I’m stuck with trying to squeeze out money from the startup. Recently, we came up with a new idea, an alternative for making money which is business-wise interesting and has good potential, but I have no interest in it. I don’t like it. I don’t want to do it.

The original startup’s concept is simply not sustainable at the moment. And sustainability is what it’s all about. If what you love to do cannot keep you alive and pay your rent, it’s doomed to be temporary. That doesn’t mean temporary things in life are not worthy, it just means you should keep this piece of information in mind.

Except for really rare cases (and you shouldn’t think you are one), doing what makes you happy is unsustainable. There’s always someone paying the bills. So if you’re happy doing what you love, probably there’s someone paying your bills by doing something profitable that they don’t love to do. At the end of the day, all of us go to the supermarket, where the people working there probably don’t love their job. You could abstract away from that example, but ultimately the whole world goes to work because they have to.

Sustainability is normally a necessity, not a desire.

Now this is not to discourage you nor to paint a picture that everyone is dissatisfied with their jobs. Not at all. When I woke up tonight, all I wished is that honest friends and people would have given me the following advice.

Rather than doing what you love,
just don’t do what you hate.

Dismiss those possibilities that clearly suck the life out of you, and choose something that you know will not be a burden for you. Probably it won’t be your dream job, but it will give you mental and financial stability to do what you love on your free time. It will give your passion some solid ground to build upon.

Don’t let your passion die by becoming “work”. Rather let your passion come alive supported by your work.

These are my 2 cents to myself. I hope it was useful for you too.

“We can’t always do what we are passionate about, but everything we do can move us closer to our passion. I was never passionate about construction. But I laid bricks and worked so I could support my passion when I was starting out in bodybuilding.
The most important thing is, you need to find your passion. And once you do, put everything into it. Everything.”
Arnold Schwarzeneggar