Is following your passion dangerous?
Should you stop following your heart and just do what is practical?
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how following your passion won’t make you happy.
I both agree and disagree.
I think there’s too much focus on the surface and not enough focus on what’s beneath.
Because what is passion?
Why do we want to find and follow our passion?
What’s truly going on here?
In the video below, I dive into 5 things that make following your passion stupid, so enjoy, and remember to subscribe to me on YouTube for more upcoming videos.
If you don’t have time to watch the video, you’ll find a helpful text version below.
Keep in mind that the video and the text compliment each other, so I recommend you watch/read both.
Before we go deeper, we have to look at what passion is.
What is Passion?
Passion is a label.
It’s a word that points to something beyond it.
What I mean is that when you pick up a jar of peanut butter, there is a label on it that says peanut butter, but that label is not the creamy stuff that you’re looking for.
There are many words that are used synonymously with passion, such as:
Passion doesn’t necessarily mean your life will be easy, or that you find a shortcut to success. It means you do what you enjoy, while working hard at getting better.
Passion doesn’t have to be about a topic. For example, I’m passionate about improving what I do. I enjoy coming up with systems that help my readers and customers move forward.
I could do this in the online business space, in health, or another field. Before you do anything, look at your definition of passion. I talk a lot about this in my book, Find Your Passion.
When is Following Your Passion Stupid?
When people say following your passion is stupid, they aren’t really saying that passion is stupid. They’re saying that living in a fantasy world is stupid.
In other words, if you’re going after your passion and thinking that it’ll somehow make you happy, you’re on the wrong track.
Nothing outside of you can make you happy because happiness is a habit. To learn more about this, read the classic book Psycho-Cybernetics.
So if you’re trying to find the perfect passion, job, or business opportunity, you need to stop.
The Purpose of Following Your Passion
To me, this isn’t about following your passion, but living a life that you’re satisfied with. Passion is simply the term that makes sense for me when I explain it.
Some people won’t like the label passion, and that’s okay. This isn’t about the label, but what’s beneath.
What’s the ultimate purpose of following your passion? It’s to do work you enjoy. It’s about being happy, right here, right now.
No one wants to be trapped in a job they hate.
But you also have to remember that you may not find the “perfect” job. Doing work you love may begin by you using the job you have. It may start by you becoming better at what you do, and learning to appreciate where you are.
This isn’t about chasing happiness. This is about facing reality while listening to your inner GPS, and going where your interest takes you.
It’s also about being practical. If you’re currently stuck in a job you hate, there’s no need to quit to pursue your passion. You can use the security your job provides to build a business on the side.
The financial security will help you take more risks and to experiment.
I’m not here to protect the word passion, because it’s just one of many ways of explaining things.
So what should you do?
Do what resonates with you. If you don’t believe you can follow your passion, then don’t. Work with your beliefs and thought structures.
If passion as a label resonates with you, use it, but also remember to take things one step at a time.
We all have different ways of explaining things. There will always be people that are on the opposite sides of the spectrum.
I think all the authors that say following your passion is bad are valuable. They will reach different kinds of people.
This is not a question of either you follow your passion or you don’t. It’s about doing what interests you while being practical.
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there. So stop trying to find the perfect path, and listen to yourself.
What do YOU want to do?
In the end, what matters is that you enjoy the journey you’re on.
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Great video Henri, I had a tea-bag that said on the label, ‘the journey is the destination’! I think there’s a lot of truth in that. When we live more in the now and learn to just follow our highest joy, then we are more fulfilled and don’t keep chasing an idea. Turning the focus around to being of service as well as enjoying what we do makes a lot of sense and it certainly takes time to build a business around one’s passion. I love how you always put the focus on what really matters, getting through all the ‘mind debris’. Thanks again Henri x
If the tea label said that, the tea must’ve tasted great 😉
Thanks for commenting, Anabrese!
Stuart Young says
Good advice Henri. I found the Passion Test was a good start in identifying what my real interests were – as chasing money can often blur our vision to our interests. And certainly I agree with your 2nd point about NOT quitting your job BEFORE investigating further what we want. Tony Robbins might argue that we only take massive action towards our goals and dreams when we absolutely HAVE to create results. I think that does work for a small number of successful people but I bet 90% of those that opt for that strategy go broke and make their lives worse! I have a saying: “If you were crossing a raging river would you prefer the stepping stones to be close and many or few and far. When in doubt take small steps forward.” Nice one Henri. 🙂
Yup. Different strokes for different folks. In the end, you have to find what works for you. Any advice out there is only a taste of what you might like.
Joshua Bond says
I quit my well-paid secure job in academia in the year 2000 (at the age of 44). 15 years later (after many inner adventures) it is only now that I am beginning to tap in to a “passion” (inner well-spring) that is fulfilling enough to pass the test of having “re-invented” myself. I still have yet to make any sensible money with it; but no other option seems to make sense to me – even retrospectively.
Paula Johnson says
Once again, a great article Henry – thanks! It’s making sense of the passion/job situation and having it work for you in the best way possible…and, it takes time! We all want the ‘quick fix’ but it just doesn’t work that way…I’m pleased to say I’m taking the little stepping stones path as we speak, to live the lifestyle I know will fulfil me …and one day in the next 12 months or so I’ll look back and say – yay, I’m living it!
And a big part of it is realizing that you don’t need to have achieved all of your goals to be happy. You can be happy getting there, because you’ll always be on your way somewhere.
Dr. Gwen says
Great information Henri, and I agree that it is a label, which we may or may not all agree on. I never look at passion as a bad thing, it is an emotion (a signal of a burning desire to do something). It is the actions that accompany the passion that make the results good or bad. Acting is a choice which carries both intrinsic and extrinsic consequences either good or bad. Propelled by our internal, unadulterated compass–which comes from the heart space– acting produces feelings of satisfaction and well being for the actor and for the person benefiting from the action.
Most people mean well when they talk about following their passion. It means fulfilling the Divine calling that each of us were meant to fulfill. Living our mission. I believe this one thing: Each of us were given a gift, which if directed and applied appropriately will result in relief to someone for whom that gift was designed. Need I say it? Less suffering in the world as a result? The error too that some others make is thinking that your passion cannot be monetized. I would date to say that if you are struggling in any area of your life or you hate what you are doing, that may be an indication to re-evaluate what you are doing. When people operate from their passion they truly enjoy what they are doing. They get energized. I am launching a mission to follow one’s passion. Join me on my podcast show coming soon: http://www.thedrgwenshow.com.
Stuart Lim says
Great down to earth clarification of what following your passion means. My passion is to share my work experience so that those starting out can avoid the mistakes and capitalize on the proven methods. I wanted to start a blog to do this. When I was struggling to begin, it was all about chasing perfection. Then, I decided to just do it. Today, I am glad I followed this passion because:
1) I have learned how to set up a simple website and can help my friends set up theirs without spending thousands
2) I finally wrote my book. Now, I know how to write an e-book, make a cover and make a 3d cover
3) I know how to make a web form and get the autoresponder working
4) I am enjoying myself writing and believing that I am adding value to anyone who visits my website
Thanks for the encouragement.
You’re definitely moving forward fast, Stu!
AJ Walton says
Nice reframe of “following your passion is stupid” vs “passion is stupid”.
I’ve always thought that if we needed to define it, we’re more likely following some social programming than a true passion…but then again doing so may be the only way to gradually overcome this programming as we get feedback on our new “passion” and evolve.
Yes. You don’t want to get too caught up in trying to figure it all out, but some introspection is helpful.
Arbaz K says
I won’t say that following passion would be a bad advice but if you are not to careful about it then it might just end up like everything else.
You must follow the things that you really are passionate about, not the things that you think you are.
The work that doesn’t bore you, but you enjoy doing it should be considered as your passion and going forward in that direction would be the best thing you can do in your life.
Well put. Well put, indeed 🙂
Marc Allred says
I think everyone can resonate with the idea that doing something you don’t like obviously sucks. So why do it? Following your passion doesn’t necessarily have to be something crazy, it just means being happy. Why do something that doesn’t make you happy? That’s just dumb.
Tim Shape says
Hi Henry, Greetings from the US.
I’ve started down the path of simply starting to build on a passion and just keep on going. Here are my efforts so far…www.jerrysway.com.
Thanks for your encouragement,
Merlene Campbell says
If you ask me, “should you follow your passion” then I would absolutely say yes but do so with some boundaries set around it, be realistic and practical for what you can and can’t do. There is nothing wrong with experimenting but never lever your pursuit of passion turn into a never-ending chore.