The FIVE (unexpected) Questions To Ask Before You "Follow Your Passion"

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION. CREATE WORK THAT MATTERS. CHASE YOUR DREAMS.
 

This is great advice. It helps us to believe in the work that we’re creating and it’s uplifting to feel good about our choices. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to take a break from all that could go wrong and hear about the possibilities of what can go right when we “chase our passion.” But. I know that this advice isn’t always helpful or clear. Though warm and fuzzy, it’s not easy to action. How, exactly, does one follow their passion? There’s no right answer but there are some definite considerations to be taken before you attempt to follow…anything. Here’s why.

Chasing your dreams and following your path is admirable. Finding success in doing “good work” is satisfying. But any entrepreneur or maker of work “worth doing” can attest to the fact that it doesn’t always feel warm and fuzzy. (TRUTH ALERT!) It can lead to low-level anxiety that never seems to go away, a constant scrutiny of yourself and your work, shocking uncertainty about your income and an overall inability to know if you’ve ever actually “made it.” Yep, this is all true and it isn’t pretty.

As a small business consultant, I work with creative people who do follow their dreams (myself included.) I’m a major advocate of “Go you, follow your passion,” so why am I writing this? The truth is, for every well- intentioned time that I’ve read, heard, or given this advice; I also understand the fear involved in being a member of the “Do What You Love Society.” Following your passion isn’t always realistic.  It’s your right to do work that you believe in, wholeheartedly and without question. However, you set yourself up for disappointment when you don’t get full clarity around the intention and risk for doing this work.

“Doing what you love” isn’t easy and it doesn't end. There’s no bonus at the end of the year or paid time off, you pay your own expensive health insurance and you may not sleep soundly for many, many nights. Low-level (and sometimes high-level) anxiety begins to feel like your new “normal.” You may not have a back-up plan if this fails and there is no guarantee that it won’t. I repeat: Following your passion isn’t always realistic. BUT.

People are mistaken when they think chasing your dream is a selfish thing to do. As if perhaps being average is an act of humility. As if perhaps wasting the talents you were given is proof that you’re a considerate individual. It’s not.
— Jon Acuff, Author

Any successful person will tell you that creating change in any form is rarely realistic. The risk involved often outweighs the certainty but still, there is no greater sense of purpose than connecting to your own truth and doing work that matters. There is no greater sense of freedom than doing the work that you are meant to be doing while not being tied to a desk or a time zone. There is no greater success than creating the opportunity to be compensated for doing work that you believe in.

So yes, do work that you love. Follow your passion. Create work that matters. Chase your dreams. But before you take that advice, get really clear about your intention by asking yourself these five questions. Note: There are many logistical questions that also need clarity but get clear about your intention first.

  1. Why are you choosing this path?
  2. What do you hope to achieve in 6 months, 3 years, in 10 years?
  3. Is this a viable business or a hobby? i.e.
    • Would enough people be willing to pay for the work that you offer in order for you to sustain your lifestyle?
    •  Can you see yourself spending X amount of years doing this work, daily?
  4. How willing and able are you to shift the structure of your current life, if you need to? Basically, what are you willing to give up either permanently or temporarily to follow this path? Be honest. i.e.
    • Are you willing and able to downsize your apartment for something more affordable?
    • Are you willing to take on a job doing work that you don't love while building the business that you hope for?  
  5. Are you truly willing to analyze yourself, the marketplace and your craft continuously, in an effort to create amazing work? (**I find this to be one of most difficult and exhausting but necessary components of creating work that matters.) i.e.
    • Do you love your “passion” enough to spend time every day analyzing your own work down to the minutiae, researching the work of others in your field and becoming an expert on whatever it is that you offer?

Bottom line is this: Yes, do work that you love.

Follow your passion. Create work that matters. Chase your dreams. By staying clear and connected to your purpose and intention, you will undoubtedly find your own version of success. But be honest about the risks and challenges involved in following your passion by getting clear on the five questions above. These answers will carry you through all of the uncertainty (and major happiness) that you are destined for. Keep them nearby and allow them to guide you when you feel unsure. You’ll be moving onwards and upwards in no time!

What are your thoughts on “following your passion”? Share them by clicking into the comment box below. I’d love to hear what you think.