Should I do what I love? For some, the answer is easy : Yes.
Software engineering is not only their passion but will most likely land them a high-paying job. For others, their passion isn’t as immediately likely to be profitable: acting, music or teaching.
And furthermore, there are financial responsibilities that make following one’s true passion difficult — starting a family, paying off thousands in loans or even just paying rent.
The argument is this: If you’re looking for any sort of career advice, it’s likely you’ve heard a certain suggestion before: But passion is rarely enough to get you through on its own. Customers rarely pay a premium for “passion.” And when you’re not getting paid enough, it’s hard to stay passionate about your passion.
When passion just doesn’t cut it
Finding a project you love is all well and good on a sunny day when you’re feeling okay. But on those gray days when you’re suffering from the flu or you’re otherwise down, passion is rarely enough to get it done.
You may wind up asking yourself if you’re doing the right thing. Can you justify giving up a more lucrative career — one that left you free time to pursue your passion after hours — just to do something that sounds fun?
Instead of your passion, pursue this
There’s another route you could go. You could take on anything that pays the bills, then pursue fun projects you’re passionate about on the side. The issue with this approach, as it happens, is that it leads straight to passion burnout.
Unless you consider wanting to eat on a regular basis to be your passion, passion isn’t the problem here. But when your main focus is the work you actually enjoy, you have to pay the bills with whatever you can shoehorn into your schedule. Besides following your passion, you also need to define your purpose.
Where passion and purpose intersect
A particularly persistent piece of advice is to look at what you enjoyed as a child. I don’t know about you, but my childhood interests were pretty diverse. There was a time when digging large holes in the backyard entirely consumed my attention.
Then I was obsessed with English History. Later I found myself wishing to become a pilot. At another point, I was obsessed with mythology. My interests waxed and waned like any other kid’s, and that’s a good thing. Until you’ve had the chance to try a whole bunch of things, you probably won’t have a good idea of what you enjoy.
You’ve got to find your purpose as well as your passion — and then find a place where both intersect. It may be easier to find a day job you can tolerate. But the only way to find something that works for you is to go out and try different options.
Get involved with different groups and to explore different purposes you care about. You don’t need an all-consuming cause, but you do need something you care enough about to give up sleeping in on the weekends.
Only then will you really be capable of pursuing your passion, and your purpose along with it.