Follow your passion and never work a day in your life. At least that’s what they say. But is it true? It’s weird that nice-sounding advice like “do what you love” is so controversial, but it really is.
Some people fall on the side of following your passion. They think that living a life true to yourself is the key to happiness, and following your passions will get you there. Others argue that you will start to hate the thing you love if you are forced to do it to make a living. Doing it to other people’s specifications and answering to someone about how you do it will suck the life out of that thing you enjoyed oh so much.
So which is it? Should you follow your passion and try to find a job doing what you love, or should you settle for a decent job and keep your passion as a hobby or side project? Let’s explore that, shall we?
Is it Good to Follow Your Passion?
It’s great to follow your passion. If you have something that drives you, that pushes you, that you love more than anything else, then you should follow it. See where it leads. Passion has created amazing works of art, innovative changes in technology and has made the world a better place.
Following your passion will allow you to live a life that is true to yourself. You will never have to wonder “what if.” You will live your own personal dream, regardless of what that is.
It does sound great to follow your passion, doesn’t it? But let’s not get too idealistic. Unfortunately, following your dreams can come with a host of problems.
Why Shouldn’t You Follow Your Passion?
There are two big reasons why following your passion is bad advice. The first is the possibility that you won’t like it anymore if you have to do it, and the second is that the things we love don’t always pay enough to pay the bills. These are two excellent reasons to not follow your passions.
You Won’t Like It Anymore
Imagine that you are passionate about art. You went to art school and spent all of your free time exploring color theory and perfecting your painting techniques. Then one day, you paint a portrait of your best friend’s dog as a gift. They love it – they post it to social media, it goes viral, and now you have thousands of commissions for pet portraits. You’re the pet portrait master. And sure, it pays the bills, but did you really spend all that time and effort mastering your craft so that you could paint the family dog for the ten-thousandth time? Do you still love painting if you can’t paint what you want to paint, can experiment with new techniques, can’t explore your passion in the way you used to? Are you still passionate about painting when you can only paint what the customer wants?
Maybe you are passionate about traveling instead, and you score your dream job as an on-location reporter with a world-renowned travel magazine. They send you all over the globe to uncover hidden gems and the best new spots for tourists. It might be fun at first, but will you get burnt out after your sixth flight this week? Will you get tired of always going where they want you to go and never being able to go where you actually want to go?
These are very real scenarios that you need to take into consideration when deciding whether to pursue your passions.
You Won’t Make Enough Money
But the more important consideration is the money. You wouldn’t need to paint pet portraits or go wherever your company sent you if you didn’t need the money. And the problem with passion projects is that they often don’t always pay a living wage. Sure, some artists get lucky enough to get by making pet portraits, and some are incredibly lucky and become famous artists who can sell anything they create. But the vast majority of people who choose to follow their passions for a living will struggle to get by.
So before deciding to follow your passion, you have to decide – is it worth it? Is it worth it to follow your heart, knowing that you will more than likely struggle to put food on the table and a roof over your head? Is it worth not being able to afford to raise a family?
It might be. Only you can answer that question.
How Do You Follow Your Passion in Life?
To follow your passion, you first need to discover your passion. Maybe you already know. Maybe this seems like a silly question to you. But the truth is that so many of us are so bogged down with life that we don’t even know what excites us anymore. The things we were passionate about as kids no longer bring us joy.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t passionate about anything. It just means that we have to dig a little deeper to discover what we are passionate about.
What if I’m Not Passionate About Anything?
Everyone is passionate about something. You might just need help finding it. Listen to your inner voice; what does it love? What types of things do you enjoy doing?
You might even be passionate about numerous things, and that’s okay too. I’m passionate about blogging, travel, helping people, my cats, and life in general! The great thing about having multiple passions is that you have a wide array of things to choose from!
But if you’re stuck and you don’t know, grab our guide on how to find your passion. This epic worksheet bundle is dedicated to not only finding your passion but helping you pursue it as well. It’s loaded with introspective questions, worksheets, and ideas to help you discover what you are passionate about and also has a 30-day action plan to help you start pursuing it!
You will need to bring some curiosity, grit, and open-mindedness to complete the worksheets, and you will need to dive deep into your own mind to discover your passion, but it is in there, and we will help you find it.
How to Pursue Your Passion
You don’t need to only follow your passion. There is another way, a better way, a more nuanced but less exciting way. Pursuing your passion is not a one size fits all deal. You can try to pursue it as a full-time job, which is where the original question comes into play. But you don’t have to.
You can also choose to pursue your passion as a side hustle or as a hobby. Once you get established, you can start it as a side hustle and turn it into a full-time business. There is no right or wrong way to go about it.
I think that the best way to pursue your passion is through balance. Focusing solely on it can lead you to a life of destitution. While it’s true that you can also find success and be that outlier who follows their passions and lives an epic life, the odds just aren’t in your favor.
Instead, you should focus on making a good income while you are young, so you can focus on following your passion through hobbies and side hustles as you get older. Pursue a high-paying job, like a programmer or something else in a high-demand field, and follow the money. But always remember that it’s just a paycheck. Put in the hard work to succeed, but don’t overwork yourself. Become financially secure so that you can pursue your passions risk-free.
If this path sounds familiar to you, then you’ve been here before, and you get Passion FIRE. Passion Fire is all about helping people pursue their passion, but in a way that won’t leave them destitute.
Let’s face it. No one has a passion for work. Most of us just go to our day jobs to pay the bills. But that doesn’t mean we have no passion; it just means that our passions aren’t paying the bills. Passion Fire seeks to change that.
I think that most people can find a way to make a living with their passions and talents. However, getting it off the ground will take time, and you may not make as much as you would at a traditional job. This is why we start with the traditional job and build a safety net first. The FIRE part of Passion FIRE, if you will.
Once you’ve gained some life experience and developed your talents in the traditional job, it’s time to start a business with your passion. Ask yourself how you might be able to monetize your passion. Do you create something that you can sell? Can you write about it or make videos about it? Is it something that lends itself to helping people through one-on-one coaching?
You Don’t Have to Start a Business
There are other ways to pursue your passion. Maybe you can find a lower-paying job in a career field that you are passionate about. Reach Coast FIRE as a programmer, then shift careers and find meaningful work. Find a job that is fulfilling and also pays you enough to cover your day-to-day expenses. With your FIRE investments backing you up, you can leave anytime the job no longer meets your needs.
There is also no shame in not monetizing your passion at all. Many people can be happy working a normal job and pursuing their passions on the side for fun. Our insidious work culture of hustle until you can’t hustle anymore is toxic. A hobby or a passion can just be for fun. It doesn’t need to be monetized.
Now, you might think that I disagree with that because of my love affair with Passion FIRE. But the truth is, everyone is different. Passion FIRE is right for me. It’s my ideal, my dream life, what I want. That doesn’t mean it’s right for you, though. Maybe you are happy with the structure of a nine to five, or maybe you dread the idea of trying to monetize the things you love. Those thoughts are all valid! It’s perfectly okay to pursue your passion in whatever way you see fit.
Live Your Dream Life
Passion Fire allows you to follow your dreams without limiting yourself. It allows you to pursue a life of meaning, fulfillment, and passion. It’s about finding a balance between following your passion and never working (but also barely surviving) and only being able to pursue your passion in your limited free time.
The truth is, even though short sayings and adages are fun, they rarely tell the whole story. Nuance is key to living successfully, and it’s no different when it comes to how to pursue your passion. What is right for one is rarely right for all, so live your dream life the way you want, and don’t worry about what others think about it.
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming and her cats.