Why Making Your Passion Your Profession is Probably a Terrible Idea
By Rebecca Healy
Do you often find yourself daydreaming of doing something better? Here's the thing: Most people should not make their passions their professions. Avoid these three misguided reasons people often choose to do so:
1. You love it. Here's a simple test to know if you can make what you love to do what you get paid to do. Finish the following sentences:
"Sales makes me feel ..."
"Business makes me feel ..."
"Marketing myself makes me feel ..."
If you answered anything but "awesome," "psyched" or "totally stoked" to those three statements, getting paid to do what you love isn't for you. That's because making your passion your profession isn't about doing what you love all the time, but doing a lot of sales, marketing and promotion for what you love. It could be that you love your passion so much that you don't mind spending a good deal of your time promoting that passion and yourself. But more likely, you don't want to darken your unsullied passion with the slog of sales. And that's OK.
Passions sometimes get to be passions, because they don't have any attachments or expectations. They get to be passions, because they are free of trying to be anything else besides what they are. They don't have to be a career or a paycheck, but simply words on a screen, film in a camera or grease on a carburetor.
2. You want to quit your job. Your job sucks. Your boss sucks more. You're destined for something better, if only you weren't so tired when you got home from work. But if you think quitting your job is the answer, just stop. Most of us aren't ready to do what we love. We're only ready to quit doing what we hate.
If you quit your job, that doesn't mean you will all of a sudden have tons of time for your passion. More likely, it will mean you will very quickly have tons of time to worry about next month's rent. People who are serious about turning their passions into professions don't mind working their full-time job, because they see that job as the support and catalyst for their passion.
A full-time or part-time job isn't what's sucking the purpose and meaning out of your day – OK, it's not the whole reason. Mostly, that's just your bad attitude. People that make their passions their professions adjust their mental mindset so that a job means freedom. A job means options. A job means you get to do what you truly love with all your heart without worry or anxiety.
3. You're an "idea person." OK, so maybe you won't run away to start a gardening blog, but you've got ideas – so many ideas! Many people like to call themselves an "idea person" and claim the label with pride. But anyone who has done anything with their life cringes when he or she hears those words. Most people are idea people, but what separates those who can make their passion their profession is the ability to execute. If you are stuck in a dead-end job, that's where you'll stay, because idea people can't make things happen. You have to do something about it. Execute. Take risks.
And making your passion your profession is one of the biggest risks you can take. Just because society rewards the 1 percent of folks whose risk-taking pays off doesn't mean it's the right path for you. Instead of focusing on how many ideas you have, try to uncover your true strengths. Maybe you're the glue that keeps your office together or the obsessive systems person that can organize massive amounts of information. Those are tangible talents that will allow you to decide if you should pursue your passion as your profession.
If you decide not to make your passion your profession, the great thing is that you can still pursue that passion. In the passing moments that are yours and yours alone, your passion can fill you up, nurture your insides and fulfill you.
Rebecca Healy is the founder of Kontrary, a different take on money and happiness that helps you take control of your work and life. She lives in Washington, DC.