Why Following Your Passion Doesn’t Work

Anytime you look for advice online, the word passion inevitably comes up.

Follow your passion. Do what you love. Find something you love, create a career around it, make millions! Bazaam!

For the dozens of people who hate their jobs, or students not even sure where to start, this sounds like a very attractive proposition.

You could even say a it’s slippery rope to the dark side.


There’s only one problem with it. Want to know what it is?

…Drums rolling…





It doesn’t work.

Nope. Never. Nada.

It plain doesn’t work.

One problem is, most people don’t have one main passion.

What if what you love doing is watching TV? Or what if your passion is making wooden ships inside bottles? How do you hope to make money from that? What if you never find your passion?

Don’t follow your passion, cultivate your passion

Instead of waiting for some magical “passion” to drop from the sky, grow your passion.

What is the difference?

Follow your passion assumes you have one true passion (like your one true love) and you just have to find it. Like Harry Potter finding out he is a wizard.

Don’t wait for some passion to fall from the sky. You are not Harry Potter, you are not the chosen one. There is no magical wizard who will come to you when you grow up and give you your passion.

Cultivate your passion is much better advice, because it gives you the correct idea. It will be hard work, and you will need to follow an artisan like approach to it. You will need to work hard, spend years mastering your craft, failing, retrying, failing and retrying till you succeed.

What if you have no passion?

Like 90% of the people out there, there are chances you don’t have a passion. So what do you in that case?

Again, cultivating passion gives you the hint. Find things you like, even slightly. It could be programming, writing, playing musical instruments, design and graphics, anything. Something you don’t mind doing.

And there are chances you’ll have to try multiple things.

Most books are like Hollywood romance movies: They feed you the bullshit that you have One True Love, and you can keep acting like a dick until you meet the One.

And they say it’s the same with passion. All you need to do is find your one true passion. And then everything will fall into place, people will start loving you, you will become a millionaire etc etc.

What bullshit.

You will need to try dozens of things, find the ones that you love, versus ones that look sexy, but aren’t for you. Playing the piano was like that for me. If I had spent hours on it, I could have mastered it. But I realised it wasn’t for me. But I could never have found that if I had just read about it a book. You actually have to try stuff to find if you actually like it.

I read this saying that has stayed with me till now:

No use reaching the top of the mountain, and realising it’s the wrong mountain.

No use mastering something, and then realising you hate it.

You are not the Chosen One

You are not Frodo. You are not that irritating and lazy kid from the Karate Kid. You aren’t Luke Skywalker (or are you?) No magical wizard / foreigner will come and tell you what your goal in life is. No one will give you the answers.

Even your so called Gurus, your experts, your elders, even they are confused. Even they are miserable at their jobs. So how can they help you?

But you know what? I think that’s a great thing. It means your destiny is in your own hands.

Rather than waiting to find out what your passion is, take control of your life. Try different things, things you like.

And then be prepared to spend years mastering your craft. Be ready to, you know, actually work your ass off rather than some wizard wave his wand and give you super powers.

But you know what? This way is more fun. You actually discover the joy of mastering a craft, of becoming good, of seeing yourself improve. And trust me, that feel great.

Further Reading: So Good they can't ignore you by Cal Newport