The Passion Myth – Fall In Love With Mastering a Skill
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” This advice has been handed down for generations. It’s commonly quoted by successful entrepreneurs once they’ve reached the height of their success. It sounds nice. It encourages people to find their passion and dedicate themselves to it! It also sets many people up for disappointment and frustration.
The problem with the passion myth is that, while it’s wonderful to do something about which you’re passionate, it perpetuates an idea that everyone must find their passion…and find a way to monetize it. Teenagers and young adults feel directionless and even useless if they don’t have a passion. It adds to career dissatisfaction, because it encourages the idea that you should put all your hopes and energy towards your passion and anything else is just holding you back.
It also leads to passionate people becoming disillusioned with, well, their passions. We have a romanticized idea of passion work, that when you really love what you do, it will just flow out of you with ease day after day. It will truly feel that you “never work a day in your life.” This is, of course, far too much to expect from any passion. Even enjoyable work is still work. There will be days when it’s challenging. There will be days when you don’t want to do it. There will be aspects of the job you don’t enjoy. Sometimes those tasks you don’t enjoy, like research or marketing, can be delegated or outsourced to specialized companies. Other times, the less pleasant tasks falls to you.
If you see your work as something that’s supposed to make you happy all the time, it can be easy to throw in the towel on those harder days when it ceases to do so. In order to achieve anything, passion work still has to be treated like work.
A better adage would be, “Love what you do, and the work will be worth it.” Whether you’re a janitor, a doctor, an artist, or an entrepreneur, you can make the choice to love what you do, and that love for your work will help to buffet you through the hard days when it feels like, well, work. It’s also less limiting to “love what you do” than it is to “do what you love.” If you focus on one passion to the exclusion of all else, you may miss out on all the other things you could become passionate about along the way. In choosing to love what you do, you approach everything you do with an openness and eagerness. You can enrich your life with new skills and fall in love over and over again.
Here are few ways you can benefit from mastering a new skill.
On the surface, this is obvious. If you master a skill, you become better at something than you were in the past. That’s self-improvement. But it goes deeper than that. In mastering a skill that doesn’t fit inside your preconceived passion, you broaden your horizons. You have something to do with your time that you didn’t have before. You allow yourself to see other perspectives and options. And what else can make you a better person than that?
2. New Opportunities
Through the passion myth, people can become tunnel-visioned. You know exactly where you want to go and how you want to get there. And having a vision is not a bad thing, but it should never trap you. Mastering a skill, however, can open you up to new opportunities that weren’t in your original plan. Maybe learning a new language can lead you to travel to new places. Maybe learning computer code will help you to create your own website for your business, or working in customer service can put you in contact with your first business partner. If you love what you do and let yourself be open to learning new things, anything can become an opportunity.
You can fall in love with mastering a skill and that will make the work you put into it more enjoyable, but through it all, you still recognize that process as work. It’s not always fun and it’s not always convenient. It doesn’t just flow out of you. It takes dedication and commitment in order to succeed, and no matter how easy that seems on the outset, there will be days when it feels hard. Learning to discipline yourself and push through those times will help you to turn your passion into success. The key is to never forget that passion is work, but if you love what you do, it’s good work.
Mastering a skill that’s outside of your passion can actually help revive your enthusiasm for your passion work. Too often, passionate people put all their hopes on their passion and this can lead to burning out, even when you’re successful. Mastering a skill can be the hobby on the side that gives you a much needed break and helps you remember what you love about your passion. Gardening, learning a musical instrument, or learning to build furniture can all expand your horizons and keep your love for your passion refreshed.
None of this is to say that having a passion is overrated. Passion is often what fuels vision into reality. Passion is what makes work more than just work. But to say “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is to dismiss all the hard work that passionate entrepreneurs put into achieving their dreams. Instead, love what you do so much that you’re willing to put in the work to master it, and your passion for your work will only deepen.
You can also learn how to turn your hobby to a career