Why You Shouldn’t Follow Your Passion

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of finding your calling—the work you truly love, the work that gives you deep personal satisfaction because it seems to have been made for you, and you for it. And that discovery often begins with identifying what you’re passionate about.

But does that mean you follow your passions wherever they may lead? Simply let your gut-deep desires guide you through the job market? Never give up, no matter what, because some motivational speaker told you you could do anything?

Not true. As heartless as it may sound, here’s the deal: Just because you’ve found your passion doesn’t mean you’ve found your calling. And if someone told you you could do anything, they’re lying. Did that sting? Read on.

“Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.” – Mike Rowe

TV personality Mike Rowe, star of Dirty Jobs, gave a short, punchy speech (watch the video at the end of this post) for PragerU’s 2016 commencement that every student and job-hunting graduate should listen to.

Here are some quotes that help flesh out what I just said. Go ahead and frame these on your wall:

1. “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.” It’s true. I was passionate about human biology in college, but that class almost killed me. I was just no good at it. Simply passing each test took more sweat than I ever gave English or history, which made me realize that as thrilling as the medical field appeared, becoming a doctor or nurse probably wasn’t in my future. Some things you just can’t manufacture. So if you’re on fire about something, make sure you have the talent to go with!

2. “Dream jobs are usually just that—dreams.” Learn to distinguish between ambitious but achievable goals and pure fantasy. Your fantasies will damage your career (and happiness) if they “keep you from exploring careers that offer a legitimate chance to perform meaningful work and develop a genuine passion for the job you already have.” If you’ve got the ability and desire to start your own company, go for it, but if you’ve set your heart on being the next Steve Jobs, I can guarantee you that you won’t get there by insisting on it. Steve Jobs didn’t set out to be Steve Jobs, he just “wanted to make a difference” and he became Steve Jobs.

3. Follow “opportunity, not passion,” because that’s where prosperity (and true satisfaction) often lie. When people blindly follow their passion, Mike says, they miss out on opportunities for the success they’re actually looking for. “While passion is way too important to be without, it is way too fickle to follow around.” If it’s your hobby, have at it, but when it comes to a career, have the humility to consider the open doors—the jobs you didn’t dream about.

Does this mean you should just grit your teeth and take a job you hate after all? No! Don’t take Mike Rowe’s tough love the wrong way. You really were born to solve problems and help others in a way you enjoy because it resonates with who you are to your core, but you might be surprised at exactly what that looks like. And you don’t want to miss out on your calling because you’re so busy chasing pies in the sky.

Not sure if your dream job is realistic? Curious to see where your abilities line up with your desires? Want to find out if your strengths match with careers that give you a good shot at success? Take the Discovery Questionnaire on Find Your Calling and find out. Also take Mike’s parting advice: “Never follow your passion, but always bring it with you.”

Watch Mike Rowe’s commencement speech below. 

Need help finding a realistic career goal? Chat with us. Hit me up at gwen@findyourcalling.com

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