4 Reasons Why Following Your Passion is Stupid


 “Make your passion your paycheck.”

Each time I hear it, a puppy dies. I’m sure of it. Yet, you are bombarded with the idea that you have to discover your life’s true passion, and make it a career.

Now, hear me out. Passion for something is good. It has a place. But an overemphasis on passion as a life compass is stupid. Here’s why:

It’s unrealistic. While encouraging you to find ways to let your passions drive your life has good intentions, it actually sets you up for big disappointment. It creates unrealistic expectations to find that ‘dream job’ and find it NOW. The reality is much more complex. A very small percentage of twentysomethings land a dream job that utilizes their passions. It’s probably about the same percentage of basketball players that make it to the NBA. The vast majority don’t leave college frolicking into a field of daisies where passion, purpose, and opportunities meet in a glorious embrace. More common is a long, meandering, sometimes difficult hike to a really good situation.

It’s fleeting. I was passionate about pizza yesterday. Got my fill. Now I want a cheeseburger today. I used to be passionate about running. Trained for a marathon. Ran one (barely).  Over it. I exercise differently now. These examples may seem simplistic, but we often approach some of life’s biggest decisions the same way. Passion can be a tricky barometer. It’s fleeting. It’s not sustaining.

It’s limited in its scope. When considering the ‘big plans’ for our lives, passion is but one of the many factors you need to consider. There are many mornings when I’m passionate about staying in bed. But other factors come to play: the need to keep my job, the need to exercise to stay healthy, etc. When making important decisions, you must consider all the factors involved and give them proper weight and priority.

It risks being a #firstworldproblem. This is where we have an awkward conversation about privilege. The very notion that we should have it all right away can cloud our vision from seeing and acknowledging that the majority of the world (and my people in our communities) don’t even consider this issue of passion. Our desperate need to let passion rule all areas of life can be a thinly veiled pursuit of being perfectly comfortable. . . and it can be selfish. If our lives are ruled solely by what we feel passionate about, we risk dismissing key reference points (people, communities, churches, etc.) that are outside of ourselves.

Again, passion is not all bad. It has a role and a place in your twenties. Passion plays an important role in our work, our family, our spirituality, and our communities. But there’s more to life than passion. Mike Rowe, TV personality and former host of Dirty Jobs, says it best:

Don’t follow your passion, but always bring it with you.

Fathom this: What role should passion play in your career? 

Coming soon: We’ll post something along the lines of Why Passion Is Important. (You know, just to balance things out). 

2 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why Following Your Passion is Stupid

  1. Interesting. At age 59 I just took a new job after 23 years at the same place. As an engineer you are already assuming all kinds of things about me personally and how I searched for a job. I am an outlier from a personality standpoint as an engineer. I am an extrovert and energized by the human equation. I personally find workplace culture and fit for my gifts the most important. And yes that is a 1st world problem !


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