For many people, making a living online conjures up thoughts of passive income, location independence and simply loving what you do. Through that the concept of “finding your passion” has become synonymous with the world of online business. Many of us believe that we must find our passion in order to be truly happy and successful.
However, I do not think that you need to find your passion in order to quit your job, launch your own successful business and (most importantly) be happy with your life. Not only that, but I think the way in which people are often urged to find their passion actually serves to cripple their chances of reaching their goals.
In this post I want to explain why I think trying to find your passion can ultimately be a fruitless task and offer up an alternative solution to leaving work behind.
The Fallacy of Finding Your Passion
Achieving your online business goals is certainly possible but when you’re at the start of your journey it can all seem like a distant dream. I get that. I was in your shoes less than two years ago and the self-doubt and fear of failure that I had then are still very tangible in my mind.
I was reminded of these emotions quite recently when I received an email from a LWB reader:
I am following your site and am a fan of it. I have a little suggestion (or question as you may take it). It is lovely to even think about following one’s passion and making an income out of it. But there are countless who do not know what they want; what their passion is. If you touch upon that topic and provide some insights it would be awesome.
I always try to accomodate reader requests and it just so happened that I thought this was a topic in dire need of covering anyway. In fact, the above message highlights what I think is wrong with “finding your passion”, which is that there are many people out there who do not know what their “passion” is. Because they can’t figure out their passion they believe that they can’t be successful and so they simply don’t try. Their journey is over before it has even began. Sound familiar?
It is all too easy to be paralyzed into inaction until you find your so-called passion. Until that point, what’s the point in even trying to make a start? Surely you’d just be fumbling your way in the dark?
Well consider this — for the most part my passions don’t pay my bills and yet I have never been happier. The first thing you should understand is that it’s okay not to know what your passion is and you can still succeed and be happy if you don’t (tweet this).
What is Passion?
The word “passion” is used — perhaps misused — an awful lot. Before we go any further let’s first define it:
Passion: a thing arousing great enthusiasm
To put it another way, a passion is anything you can get really excited about. And that in itself reveals the first failing of the whole “finding your passion” movement — we all have many passions. Here are a few of mine:
That’s a pretty diverse range of passions, right? And yet I would be doubtful of making a good living from any of them. This is the same issue that most people come up against — they know what they are passionate about but they can’t figure out a way to make money from it.
This is the point at which “find your passion” advocates jump in and propose to find a way to create a business around your passion. Whilst I have no doubt that it can be done (some of the time), it is a tough route — you’ll probably be trying to push the proverbial square peg (your passion) into a round hole (success). Why not instead put down the square peg and try the round one? You’ll find it’s a much better fit.
Don’t “Find” Your Passion — Work Towards It
You may have read a recent post of mine: Why You Shouldn’t Chase Your Dreams. It could’ve actually been entitled “Why You Shouldn’t Chase Your Passions” and essentially been the same post.
Trying to find your passion and be the best you can be from square one is a hell of a tough call and is bound to end in frustration. It’s like someone aiming to become a sub-10 second 100m sprinter when they’ve never even run 100m before.
Even if you are hellbent on finding your passion, focus on the steps between here and then. Your next step is not likely to be the one that gets you to where you want to be, but many people seem to think that it has to be in order to be worthwhile. All the next step should be is a step closer.
Even then, it doesn’t have to be a step closer to your passion. On the contrary, I believe that the easiest path to success and happiness is in freedom. Would I rather spent 12 hours a day in a job that I absolutely love, or 4 hours a day in a job I enjoy with the rest of the time available to do whatever I want (including but not limited to my “passion”?). I know which one I would go for, because at the end of the day, freedom is more important to me than my career being my “passion.”
So when it comes to leaving work behind, you have two options:
- Make your work your passion
- Make your passion(s) something you can do because of your work
Option two is by a distance the path of least resistance, because if you get yourself into a position where your work commitments are minimized, you have the power to do just about anything.
Look at me as an example. At the moment my work entails a lot of writing and not a great deal else. I like writing and I do have a passion for certain aspects of what I do (such as creating posts like this), but for the most part I only like and enjoy what I do (please understand that I use the word “only” with a heavy dose of irony).
I wouldn’t include the words “great enthusiasm” in a description of my feelings towards my work but I have come to realize that some kind of overwhelming excitement in what you do for a living isn’t the skeleton key to happiness. There are so many other meaningful things in life and the obsession that your work must be your passion can distract you from them. I am sure that many people have discovered this when reaching the pinnacle of their passion and have been left bitterly disappointed.
Your Passions Should Be Everywhere
Your life should be made up of many passions that you choose to explore and indulge. If your work can be a passion of yours than all the better, but it is not a requirement for happiness and success.
Every step I have taken so far — first towards leaving work behind and now towards increasing my income — has not been a step towards a particular passion. Wanting to quit your job, have more freedom and make more money are not seen as “passions” in the context we are exploring (although you could argue that they are), and yet they have been the main guiding lights for me over the past two years or so.
I believe that my aversion to chasing any particular passion has helped me a great deal in getting this far. At no point have I looked to make work some kind of joyous spectacle that has me leaping out of bed in the morning. Instead I have leveraged my business to create a lifestyle that makes me extremely happy. Plus I enjoy the work, which is certainly a majorly beneficial factor.
It’s Time to Begin a New Search
So if you have been in vain search of your passion, perhaps now is the time to reevaluate. Put finding your passion aside for one moment and consider the path of least resistance to leaving work behind. How can you most easily get into a position where you have the freedom to work less hours (should you choose to) and build a passive income business that will ultimately empower you to spend your time as you please? In my opinion that is the key.
In terms of the practical advice I can offer you, my suggestions are blogging and/or freelance writing. I have used both to establish my business and generate an income that exceeds my outgoings and if you have not previously considered one or the other I would urge you to take some time exploring. I would advise that you begin with my Start Here page, which shows you exactly what you need to get started in either case.
Finally, if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to leave them below. I’d love to know what you think!