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Why Your Quest for Passion Is Dimming Your Light

Insight on the passion myth lurking in your shadows.

By Jessey AnthonyPublished 2 years ago 5 min read

We’ve heard the advice, “just follow your passion,” over and over to solve real-life troubles. It never feels good, but we couldn’t figure out why.

If I had done what I was excited about ten years ago today, I would have probably become an event planner. I didn’t have a strong direction right after college, and partying was a hobby that I really enjoyed.

If we go back a little further, say 20 years ago, I would probably be in a girl-only rock band, showing off heavy makeup and jagged hairstyles.

To be fair, those two things still sound pretty good to me, but that’s not where my life has been, and for a good reason.

As I gained experience, the things I got involved in and the things I liked changed a lot.

While I like to endorse any path to a meaningful career, the Passion Road doesn’t work for a lot of people, and then they bow their heads and start doing something “practical,” which is code to kill me softly.

Passion is often the fuel to start new businesses but not enough to sustain them.

Christopher McCandless, American Hiker, was bursting with passion as he made his way to the wilderness. But he failed to reach his goal because passion is not enough.

The same is true of many potential writers, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, designers, and business leaders. Just because you have a lot of enthusiasm for something doesn’t mean you’ll be successful at it.

Suppose you were to hire someone, do you prefer them to be highly skilled and experienced, or do you prefer them to be passionate?

A young basketball player by the name of Lewis Alcindor Jr., who won three national championships with John Wooden at UCLA, used one word to describe his famous coach’s style: ‘Dispassionate.’ Meaning not passionate.

Wooden was not one to make bold speeches or inspiration. He saw these extra emotions as a burden. Instead, his philosophy was to stay in control and do the work and never be “a slave to passion.”

Bobby Knight was passionate — and it was his passion that always got him into such unnecessary trouble.

But, there is a reason the ancients warned against passions. In fact, the Stoics believed that passions were a form of suffering. Lust, anger, obsession — these were traits to be avoided.

Since we only seem to hear about the passion of successful people, we forget that failures share the same trait. We only understand the consequences once we have looked at their track records.

I’m sure Napoleon was bursting with passion when he envisioned the invasion of Russia and ultimately only got out of it by limping back home with a fraction of the men he trusted so much.

We see the same mistakes: investing too much, investing too little, acting out of impatient, breaking things that required delicacy — not so much mischief as the intoxication of passion.

Why I think following your passion is a myth

A common passion-based mantra is, “If you love what you do, you will never have to work a day of your life.”

This is simply not true; Whatever your career, there will be days when you don’t want to do it, or tasks you don’t like — you have no choice but to get it done.

I find this particular phrase harmful because it leads you to believe that if you ever felt like you were working, you missed your passion. And that if you don’t make your passion your career, you’re doing it wrong.

If I could climb the highest mountain, I would climb to the top and say, “You Don’t Have To Find Your Passion To Have A Fulfilling Career!”

Seriously! You don’t need passion to find your purpose in life.

When we’re young, we feel so intense — passion like our hormones runs strongest in youth — that it seems wrong to take it slow.

And when we encounter complex life problems, we freeze or run. These problems require skill, patience, and understanding.

In trying to resolve these problems, breathlessness and impetuousness, and frenzy are the substitutes for discipline, mastery, strength and purpose, and persistence that we need to possess.

Instead of passion, we really need a purpose and realism. Purpose, you could say, is like passion but with boundaries. Realism is detachment and perspective.

Ditch passion, shoot for the stars

Researchers found that while 84% of people identified a passion in their lives, the vast majority, 96% of those passions were for hobbies such as dancing, hockey, and reading. Only 4% of the identified passions were related to work or school.

In most cases, it is not realistic to encourage people to pursue these hobby passions in their careers, given that 0.02% of hockey players make it a viable career.

Most people don’t have a global passion that guides their careers. Telling them to “follow your passion” is cruel. They don’t know where to start, which can make people feel incomplete, ashamed, and even more confused before a well-meaningful advice reached them.

It is by no means easy, but nothing rewarding in life ever is! Dare to dream, think big, and no matter how many people tell you it’s not possible, do it!


About author

Jessey Anthony is a motivational speaker, fitness coach and relationship expert who helps people become confident in themselves in any challenges they face in life. Sign up to my newsletter & more cool stuff.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter, and Quora.

This article appeared here.

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About the Creator

Jessey Anthony

Jessey is a travel addict, freelance content writer and fitness coach. Check out more from me at:

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Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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