Don’t Confuse Passion for Ease

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Passion makes work easier, but that’s not all you need.

A common piece of career advice you can expect to hear at most motivational seminars is that you should follow your passions, and wild success will naturally follow. Thing is, some of the wealthiest people in the world have jobs nobody would consider themselves especially passionate about. You think when Jeff Bezos was a kid, he was staring out the window every night thinking “I’m going to become a trillionaire selling books over the internet?” No, obviously not, both because no kid thinks that, and also because the internet probably wasn’t really a thing when he was a kid.

Your childhood dreams make a good jumping off point when you’re looking for career paths to pursue, but trying to follow them to the letter is just going to end in disappointment. The problem with passion is that it’s somewhat biased; until you’re actually participating in a particular industry, you can’t know what goes on in it on a professional level. You can say “I want to write books for a living,” but actually writing a book is just one part of the equation. There’s writing, editing, networking with publishers, releasing the book, managing its reputation, and so on. When you try to go that literal route, you’ll likely find that your passion is much more difficult than you originally thought, which may lead you to believe you’re on the wrong path and drop it entirely.

Like I said, an existing passion is good as a starting point. Rather than just saying “I want to write a book,” ask yourself “how does someone turn writing a book into a profitable career?” If you want to follow your passions, it’s on you to do the research and find out how exactly you can turn dreams into dollars. The odds that you’ll end up a billionaire are low, but if you put the effort and work in, and it’ll be a lot, you may just get lucky. Even if you don’t get lucky, you can still make a perfectly steady living.

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