Is "follow your passion" bad advice when it comes to financial and personal success? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
I worked a number of terrible summer factory jobs back when I was in my late teens.
Even then, I was terrified of getting stuck in one of those factories for the rest of my life. Without fail, all the guys on the line had back, knee, and shoulder problems. They were bored and unhappy, and all they did was wear themselves down a little more each day. The only thing I knew was that I never wanted that life.
While the work was awful, there was a silver lining. Those factory jobs were a big part of my realization that I had to follow my passion.
I get bored very easily, and I can't do much when I'm bored. It's just impossible. And I knew I couldn't live life being bored because I'd never get anywhere. I'd never be able to do the things that excited me and motivated me to get better.
Life is short. Why not do things you're actually passionate about?
Passion is contagious, so it's easier to become successful when you're passionate about what you're doing.
You can always tell when someone loves what they're doing. There's a spark in them that's hard to miss.
For some people, like me, it's selling. For others it's creating art, writing, crunching numbers. It can be anything, but when you meet someone who has that fire in them, you feel the warmth. You know they're putting their heart and soul into it.
If you walk into a store and some guy starts trying to sell you socks with a fake grin and zero passion for what he's doing, you probably aren't buying any socks that day. But if the salesperson is beaming at you, showing you all kinds of different socks, and telling you stories about his personal favorites, then you're buying socks. No doubt about it.
The truth is, it's tough to get really good at something you hate or that bores you. It's possible, sure. But it's a lot easier to be successful when you're waking up each morning ready to take on the world.
Following your passion prevents you from getting stuck.
Think back to a job you had that you couldn't stand. Maybe you're reading this at said job.
You go to bed at night, get a full eight hours, and yet somehow you can't get up in the morning. You just lay there staring at the ceiling and trying to gather the willpower to put your feet on the floor. Contrast that with the feeling you get before a trip to Paris. Your flight's leaving at six in the morning, and you only snuck in four hours of sleep--but you're wide awake and ready to rock 'n' roll. You could run to the airport if you had to.
Why is that?
It's because you have passion. You have . You're going to Paris.
If something is dragging you down--whether it's a job, school, or the people in your life--you have a problem. If you can't get out of bed in the morning, something's wrong.
Pursuing a passion keeps you from getting stuck in that rut. I saw a documentary on Armin van Buuren recently, and he claims that after 25 years in the studio making music, he still goes into every new session feeling like a child and looking forward to creating new sounds and samples. That's someone with a passion.
Negative influences, toxicity, bad relationships--a passion will give you the energy to say no to all of that and keep yourself from becoming stuck.
If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.
Following a passion means making sacrifices. It often means less time with friends and family and fewer late nights on the town.
The simple reason is that you have to put in extra hours and extra work if you want to build something beyond your J-O-B (Just Over Broke). And those hours have to come from somewhere. Something you're doing right now will have to be sacrificed to some extent if you want to change what's happening in your life.
Look, not everyone wants to do that. Some people are perfectly happy making a bunch of money for someone else as long as they're getting a big enough cut to pay their rent or take care of their family. They enjoy the stability, and there's nothing wrong with that.
But entrepreneurial types have a greater drive to build and grow something. They see the massive gaps and opportunities, and they don't want to miss out on them. Once you step into that life, you're always on, always looking for opportunities because you can't afford to miss out on them. You've made it to the island and burned the boat behind you. No going back.
Forging ahead requires sacrifices, but if you're following your passion, I guarantee they'll be worth it.
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