The Passionate

I have read articles about how jealousy and envy are inversely correlated to happiness. My fiancée also reminded me that a few thousand years ago, someone wrote “thou shalt not covet.” I try not to be envious or jealous of others for these reasons. But recently I was reminded that I can get jealous of one thing that I can’t seem to find.

I recently attended a conference for work. I’m an accountant by trade so as you can probably guess, the topics covered are riveting. Most people spend a lot of their time on their cell phones or doing work on their laptops during the presentations. However, one presenter basically stole the show – we’ll call him Sam. Sam was so passionate about the topics he was discussing that you could feel it from your seat. The inflection in his voice, the hand gestures, the overall elated disposition, etc. I’m not going to lie, it was fairly refreshing and you could tell he was able to use his energy to get everyone’s attention.

I picked my career during college because I wanted a career that wasn’t cyclical, would have a good chance of surviving a recession, wasn’t easily replaced by cheaper labor or robots, etc. It was safe. I had no rose colored glasses on believing that I would be passionate about the field and love it until I retired at 65. It was a practical choice.

Nine years into my career and I’m still chugging along. I get jealous of those who seem to be following their passions like Sam. But then it is refreshing when you realize that this isn’t exactly possible for everyone.

Ben Carlson recently wrote a piece called Accidental Career Guidance that I thought was very informative. Ben describes that passion is overrated, and that he believes passion follows good results. Therefore, get really good at something and maybe that expertise will lead you to become passionate.

Mark Cuban has been quoted all over the internet lately telling people not to follow their passions. His reason was because you may not end up excelling at your passion. Instead, find out where you enjoy putting your time and effort and go that route, because success generally follows effort.

For someone who somewhat describes themselves as passionless, it’s nice to get perspectives of those who aren’t making six figures doing “what they love” and “can’t wait for Monday.” Sure, I really enjoy investing and personal finance, but if it was my true passion, I think I would have made more of an effort to pursue those as careers without hesitation.

Sometimes turning your passion into something you’re trying to make a living from can make that thing not a passion anymore. It can become stressful, overwhelming, and make you resent it.

Don’t get bogged down in the rah-rah advice of “follow your passion.” Making a living off your passion just isn’t a possibility for everyone. Those people are the minority, not the majority. It’s sometimes okay to follow things you enjoy outside of your 9 to 5 and not make money off of it.

2 thoughts on “The Passionate

  • Ferv – I completely agree. I think it is important to seek out the things you enjoy and feel passionate about, but it does not have to be what you do for a living. I’m an attorney (so I feel your pain 🙂 and I tell younger lawyers all the time that this profession is not “who they are, it is what they do so they can be who they are.”

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