Why Following Your Passion Is Bad Advice For Gen-Y

by Evelyn Pelczar

One of the most common forms of advice that Gen-Y gets is generic platitudes about following one’s passion. We are told to discover our passions, eat our vegetables and stick with it until we achieve our dreams. Many of the world’s most successful people will tell you that they simply followed their strongest passions and then money and fame came along.

Following your passion, thus, might seem to be the key recipe to success. But just how practical is this business advice? Are all passions bound to create a fortune? Many of us are now beginning to question the “follow your passion” mantra as a roadmap to careers and business success for many reasons. So why could this seemingly logical path to success be a bad career advice?

Lack Of Passion

This is the most obvious reason why “follow your passion” may not necessarily be the most practical business advice. Advocates of this path to success may not be factoring in the many people who simply do not have anything that they are deeply passionate about. We all have different hobbies and things that we enjoy doing on a daily basis, but how do we determine which of these constitute our true passions? In fact, the vast majority of us do not have passions to which we are truly committed.

What we have is a list of activities that we might love doing out of routine, obligation or fun but they hardly qualify as our hearts’ greatest desires. Proponents of “follow your passions” might then implore us to discover our passions, but doesn’t this create a serious dilemma in our lives? How do we identify what our true calling and passion really is? We could end up hitching the wrong ride as we pursue entrepreneurial paths by adopting a “false passion.”

Your Passion Isn’t Profitable

Alternatively, many of us will have passions that the market simply does not value. Who is going to pay you to watch the NBA playoffs, go surfing in Bali, pop goose at the club or play paintball? These are passions, but are ultimately an escape from the daily drudgery of the corporate lifestyle.

In other words the passions, while making us happy and at peace with ourselves, may not be very easy to monetize. It’s crucial as an entrepreneur that you listen to the pulse of the market and solve problems and deliver solutions. To make millions, you must impact millions. Become passionate about delivering solutions instead of trying to figure out how to make money from what you enjoy in your daily life.

The Tedium Of Work Ruins Your Passion

There is a category of people who do, however, go on to transform their passions into very successful businesses. For example -- your passion for travel could be transformed into a niche tourism agency that caters to wealthy Chinese tourists going on shopping trips in Europe. Someone could use their passion for cooking to establish a chain of international restaurants.

However, a new problem often sets in. Transforming your passion into an income generating activity creates new challenges and responsibilities. What was initially a great passion becomes something you despise with new responsibilities such as managing the bottom line, employee procurement and other mundane tasks that you were running away from in the first place.

Proficiency In Your Passion

Having a passion about something does not necessarily make you an expert in it. You might be passionate about music but are you really a good singer or DJ? More often than not, you will find that you are more proficient in those things that you are not very passionate about.

Following your passions in instances where the “passion” is something you are not proficient in or not professionally trained to perform may therefore be a recipe for disaster. Being passionate about planes does not necessarily make you a great airline entrepreneur. You could be setting yourself up for failure. It is important to carry out a very objective skills assessment so as to determine what you can do competently and efficiently.

Be Passionate About Your Work

The search for your “true” passions could be a wild-goose chase because it is possible that you probably do not have true passions. If you are doing something that you feel you are passionate about perhaps it is your attitude that could be hindering you from thoroughly enjoying your work.

If your workplace is aggravating you, find ways of adding a few innovations and improvements here and there to make it more fun. If your colleagues are making you unhappy, you could always avoid the more negative ones and even use the power of meditation to improve your well being. Daunting problems at work can always be solved in new ways. With some innovation and a little flexibility, you could be passionate about a task and build a more productive and fulfilling career.

Add Value To Find Success

Ultimately, the best metric for success lies in the number of lives you can impact in a positive way. This will help you get through the tedium of administrative challenges and other obstacles you will face. The knowledge that you have added value to the world and created a better life experience for others is what will ultimately drive you to continue -- not some fleeting sensation that you generally enjoy your field. You have to have a committed reason and strong evidence that you are making your own mark and impact on the world.

Michael Park | Elite.

Career Hack is a Gen-Y international careers and entrepreneurship portal. Launch an extraordinary career or venture abroad.

You can follow Career Hack on twitter at @careerhackers