I’ve developed a reputation for telling the truth — at least the truth from my perspective. And that’s all I can give. There’s no such thing as objectivity when it comes to different aspects of life, especially things like the nebulous word success.
At the end of the day, you’re a grown adult. Read what you want to read and make up your mind based on your perspective intersecting with mine. Pretty simple. And come to the ultimate understanding when it comes to information and decision making.
Life comes with tradeoffs and opportunity costs. You can’t experience the positive aspects of a decision and remove the unintended consequences at the same time.
Take self-improvement. It can help you find the inspiration you need to change, but it can also lead to nothing more than a form of entertainment.
Learning how to find your passion has a double-edged sword, too because you can spend too much time thinking about it instead of finding it. It can also lead you to pursue the wrong goals for the wrong reasons. Let’s take a look at the passion debate at every angle so you can make a decision that works for you.
The Pro Argument for Finding Your Passion
A Gallup survey revealed that “A staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged. ”
Doing what you hate for a living also has a ton of negative consequences. It drains you of your energy, which causes you to be less present with your friends and family while you’re not at work. Being in a negative environment for eight hours a day has a spillover effect.
You’ve seen people who let the jobs they hate whittle away their souls. You see them every day on the highway while you drive to work. Hell, maybe you are one of these people right now. It’s not that a lack of passion is some terrible fate, just a lackluster one that can slowly eat away at your current state of mind and your future levels of confidence to change things.
Finding your passion produces the exact opposite effect. When you find your passion, you’re full of life. You want to wake up in the morning because you’re excited about the day. When you work, you don’t feel like you’re working. You’re in a flow state and the time passes by without effort.
You’ve heard the saying “Find something you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.”
Why Trying to Find Your Passion is Dangerous and Counterproductive
You can’t eat passion. Passion doesn’t pay your bills. You can’t enter “finding your passion” into an application for medical assistance. Passion doesn’t keep the circumstances that affect your life at bay — the economy, politics, personal traits that negatively affect you, etc.
Who the hell are these millennials with no life experience to be telling you how to find your passion and live your bliss? They don’t know what they’re talking about.
Someone has to wash the dishes, haul the garbage, do your accounting, construct your roads, and wait your tables. The world spins because of people who don’t follow their passion. On top of that, finding your passion is all good and well until it doesn’t work. You can waste a lot of time and energy trying to find it only to get zero tangible results.
Again, there a ton of people like this who follow self-improvement advice without doing anything about it. In the search of finding their passion, they waste time doing a half dozen side hustles that never work. Then, because they have an entitled mindset, they never quite understand what real work ethic means.
If that wasn’t enough cold water splashed on your dreams, here comes the tidal wave: focusing on your passion doesn’t work. It doesn’t work because it comes with a poor underlying assumption. The assumption is that your level of love dictates how dedicated you’ll be to the journey. You think that once you find that ultimate passion, things will fall into place, and you’ll do the work necessary to succeed. This is backward.
In reality, you don’t find passion until you get good at something. When you develop competence in something you enjoy, you build more confidence to help you tackle larger challenges, and you continue to grow, which fuels more passion to repeat the process.
Most people want the results without the effort. They want passion to fall in their lap. You shouldn’t chase or seek your passion because that means it’s trying to evade you. Often, you’ll end up chasing your own tail, running on the advice treadmill, and making no progress toward building a life you love.
Passion is for the birds. Do your job, be thankful you have a roof over your head in the first place, and stop being so entitled.
So, What’s the Real Answer?
As always the real answer lies somewhere in the middle.
The odds of you finding a magical passion right away are basically zero. On the other hand, trying to find your passion is still worth attempting, even with low odds, because the alternative of living below your potential can have dramatic negative consequences, too.
How do you find balance? How do you overcome the hurdles and build a vehicle for your freedom? Here’s everything I know based on a half-decade of learning, testing, experimenting, failing (multiple times), and finally succeeding.
I’m a human being just like you. I have my own faults, biases, and beliefs about the world. You can take the exact same steps as me with dramatically different results. There are no guarantees with any of this. Not to tickle your lizard brain and push you toward a negative behavior you’re prone to, but be skeptical of me.
Most people start following self-help writers until a weird thing happens — they fall in love with them. They get so caught up in the people they’re following they take all their advice verbatim and spend more time idolizing the guru than doing the work.
I read a bunch of self-improvement books. After a while, something interesting happened. I ran into conflicting advice from different sources I respected equally. That meant I had to figure out what was true by testing both sides of a debate to see what works.
As I improved my own life, I started to look at these other influencers at eye-level instead of looking up to them. I see behind the smoke and mirrors. I also realize these people are just human beings, not Gods with superhuman talent or vessels of the “secret sauce.”
Far too many of you get trapped in hero worship and mental masturbation. Reading some self-help means nothing. Testing and filtering out their techniques to see who really knows what they’re talking about does. Taking bad advice isn’t neutral.
It pushes you back. Be optimistic, but pay attention to who you’re listening to, how they got where they are today, and whether or not you can replicate their strategies.
Eventually, you’ll narrow the people you listen to and you’ll have weeded out the pretenders. Here’s what to do next.
To Find Real Passion, Shrink Your Ego Down About 1,000 Sizes
You’re at where you’re at because of your choices, beliefs, and effort. Sure, there are some circumstances sprinkled in there, but whether you like it or not, what happens next is on you. I don’t care what you think because the world provides that answer, not me.
You won’t get out of your own way and just listen.
That’s the number one skill of anybody who finds their passion and builds a dream — the ability to listen to and follow directions. If you knew how to guide your own life so well, you wouldn’t be reading this, but you are, so where does that leave you?
- Implement advice when given
- Feed your childish ego every day of your life until you die
I recall a moment that changed everything in my writing career. I read an article about promoting your writing. A detailed, step-by-step guide. I was tempted to rely on my mental crush and twist the advice into a mental pretzel I could feed my ego with, but I didn’t. I did everything the article said. It was hard, tedious, frustrating. I put hours into it with no guarantee of a positive outcome.
It worked exactly the way the author said it would. From then on, I’ve acted on the advice of every book, course, or coaching service I purchased. This is how you win.
I know exactly how you feel.
I know, the dull pain you feel every single day of your life that’s just below the radar enough for you to tolerate it.
This isn’t easy, at all. I understand your frustration with the process and the disillusionment you feel toward writers like me who make promises you’re unable to follow through on along with the perverse almost masochistic hope that keeps you coming back for more.
I also know you’re not miserable either. Often, your life as currently constructed is fine. There is no shame whatsoever in doing what you have to do to provide for yourself and others. You can certainly live an amazing life without it being a fantasy.
But you do want more.
And pretending like you don’t won’t make that longing go away. The good news? You have unlimited chances until you die.
I like, you, read 1,034,723, 993 minutes of self-improvement and marketing articles while doing nothing. I knew I wanted to be a writer but did nothing about it for 5 years. Then one day, I did.
And five years later, I’m not a millionaire, but I’m basically financially free. My life and career aren’t without their problems. But I wake up every day, screw around on a computer, and get paid for it.
Some people get success and money then say “it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
Nah. It’s everything it’s cracked up to be.
You should find out for yourself.
Ayodeji is the author of Real Help: An Honest Guide to Self-Improvement