Do what you love and the money will follow! Pick the right career and you’ll never work a day in your life! Find your passion! Change your life!
Is it just me, or does this cliched advice come with a lot of pressure?
Find my passion? Find the one thing I love so much that when I work at it for a gazillion years it’ll never feel like work?
And if it does feel like work, does that mean it’s not my passion? And what happens if my passion changes? Or what if I like plenty of things but don’t feel passionate about any of them?
So yeah, pressure.
But here’s the question:
Does your passion really need to be the thing that supports you?
What if, instead, you could find something you like, are good at, and supports the life you want? What if it didn’t have to be the One True Thing and it could just be any old thing that meets those three criteria?
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try to make a living doing something you feel strongly about. What I am saying is that all this pressure to find The One True Thing and force it to support you financially is a whole lotta bullshit.
Here are 9 reasons why.
1. That attitude creates a lot of misery.
If your passion has to support you, it’s hard not to feel resentful when it simply doesn’t.
You just don’t. Do things because you like them. You don’t have to commoditize them.
3. Your passion might not be a thing people want to pay for.
AND THAT IS OKAY. Don’t break yourself in half trying to make it be something it isn’t.
They’ll change over time. And that’s fine too. You don’t need to change careers when you find your next big interest. (God, if someone could please go back in time and tell 22-year-old Gigi this, I’d be grateful.)
5. The cliche puts work at the center of happiness.
And work just isn’t. Ask anyone who’s dying. They regret working so damn much. They regret not traveling more. They regret not spending more time with family and friends. Not living more. Work is the means to the end. Not the end itself.
6. Making your passion your career also means changing your passion.
I love writing. But writing when I was a teen and just passionately exploring everything from poetry to choose-your-own-adventure stories to how-to articles is very different from writing for a living.
Am I still glad to be a writer? You betcha. It’s a career that supports the kind of life I want. It lets me travel. It lets me work remotely. It lets me do work that interests me. It lets me constantly learn new things. And it lets me work for myself and work part-time hours.
But writing for work is different than writing for love. And that’s okay.
7. The world needs people who do things they don’t love.
I’m sorry, but does anyone love collecting garbage? What about driving a bus? Or doing gynecological or prostate exams? There are lots of very important jobs that need to be done that probably aren’t at the top of people’s passion lists.
We need more farmers than astronauts, though I bet a poll would show that more people felt passionate about space travel than carrots. We need more carpenters than Olympic swimmers, though I’m guessing Olympian is higher up the passion list as well.
8. Pursuing passion often comes with a cost.
There are good reasons to do things you love. But there are also trade-offs and sometimes those trade-offs are significant. Writing a book in your free time? Probably mostly fun. Writing a book and then sweating and stressing about how it will support you for years while you shop for an agent and publisher and then find out the average book advance is now $10,000, and how are you supposed to pay yourself back for the last two years of your life with $10,000? Probably less fun.
9. Girl’s gotta eat.
Take care of yourself. More money actually does make people happier, up to a certain level.