Why “Follow Your Passion” is BS

If you perused my list of top hates, “follow your passion” would be close to the top.

This advice always seems to emanate from trust-fund-mom-and-dad-pay-my-rent types. But that’s not the reason it pisses me off. It’s simply useless advice.

“Follow your passion” has the immediate assumption that we all have a passion to begin with, which in most cases is simply not true. Think of how many people you know who always knew that they wanted to be a firefighter, a doctor or a teacher? Perhaps it’s only a handful of people you know? It’s flawed to assume that we all have a passion before we have truly engaged in any one career path.

What does “passion” even mean in a work setting? Is it not enough to simply like what we do because it is challenging and engaging? Having to be passionate in our careers puts this superfluous pressure on us when things are not all dandy, such is life, be grateful for what you have and make the most of it.

“Follow your passion” also presupposes that if you really like something and you match that to your job you will have a long-term, engaging and satisfying career. This has proven again and again not to be true, look at all the passionate amateur photographers, bakers and writers who end up miserable doing what they love.

Maybe it’s not how you get started that matters but what you do once you get going. In other words, you should end up being passionate about what you do, you shouldn’t always do something because you are passionate about it.

Get good at something and in doing so become passionate about it. When you are really good at something you can pick and choose the projects that you want to work on, isn’t that what we really want? The choice not to have to do the mundane parts of the job? You can’t expect a really good working life, unless you are really good at what you do.

So let’s stop telling everyone to “follow your passion” and get to work!

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