Don’t Quit Your Day Job: Your Passion And Your Career Don't Need To Be The Same Thing

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Why “do what you love” is pretty bad advice.

There are three key components to the ideal career:

  1. You love what you do.
  2. You are good at what you do.
  3. You get paid what you’re worth for what you do.

In a perfect world, I would have been a dolphin trainer at age 7, an Olsen twin at age 12, an Editor-in-Chief at age 18, and a billionaire doing all of those things.

But in reality, you don’t just get to snap your fingers, land your dream job, and find success simply because it’s your passion.

You might be passionate about becoming the next Beyoncé or Maria Sharapova, but all the singing lessons or tennis practice in the world won’t help you if you’re tone deaf or you blow out your knees. You might be passionate about becoming the next Scarlett Johansson or Julia Roberts. So are thousands of other wide-eyed wannabe actresses who moved to Hollywood every year.

Following your passion might actually be some of the worst career advice I’ve ever heard. Here's why:

Your passion alone will not bring you success.

As Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe says, “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”

The key to happiness is realizing that your passion and your job don’t need to be the same thing.

Employers pay you for skills, not for passion.

The truth is that most of us don’t have the luxury of pursuing our passions as a full-time job. Passion for your marketable, transferable skills and talents might make you excel at something, but passion alone does not develop them in the first place.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to find a job that you love — I’m lucky enough to be employed as a full-time writer and editor. I get paid to write about career advice, women’s rights, and politics all day long. But I still have other passions that will probably never pay the bills.

Your passion is optional — something you should be excited to do regardless of your job. Figuring out how to use the free time you have to explore and cultivate your passions is one of the most valuable life lessons you will ever learn.

We should stop following our passion and start following our effort.

According to famed businessman and investor Mark Cuban:

  1. When you work hard at something you become good at it.
  2. When you become good at doing something, you will enjoy it more.
  3. When you enjoy doing something, there is a very good chance you will become passionate or more passionate about it.
  4. When you are good at something, passionate and work even harder to excel and be the best at it, good things happen.

Instead of clinging to the thought of finding the “perfect” job right now, you should be paying attention to how you spend your time and learning how to get good at what you’re doing.

So let’s all drop the “follow your passion” mindset and start getting to work.


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