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The Truth About The Glossy ‘Follow Your Passion’ Advice

By Rochi | Psychology

Aug 25

Mark Cuban was never interested in technology when he was in college. He took one computer class and cheated at it.

But when he got out of college, one of the first jobs he got was in technology. That’s when he realized, “I love this.”

Seven hours flew by while Cuban taught himself the program, but he thought it had just been 10 minutes.

Then, Cuban started his own computer consulting service, MicroSolutions which he sold to CompuServe in 1990 for $6 million.

Soon enough, in 1995, Mark and his friend Todd Wegner created an online streaming audio service, Audionet (now Broadcast.com) for listening to Hoosiers basketball games in Texas.

In four short years, they sold Audionet to Yahoo for $5.6 billion.

This journey has led Cuban to believe that the “follow your passion” advise is total BS.

He believes in “following your effort.” When you spend hours working hard at something, you get good at it. And when you get good at it, you tend to enjoy it more and it becomes your passion.

Woah. Look how that turned out.

Instead of the classic that we’re forced to believe “Follow your passion and make a career out of it”, it’s “Follow your effort and it’ll become your passion.”

And it’s not the first time that a self-made billionaire has followed his effort and it has become his passion.

Steve Jobs, who is famously quoted for saying “Do what you love and love what you do”, wasn’t actually passionate about starting a company.

In the book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport mentions how Jobs was passionate about Zen Buddhism. He studied Western History and dance, and dabbled in Eastern mysticism.

Even when he worked on the idea of designing computer circuit boards, he didn’t leave his regular job. This was something he did just for quick cash.

Sure, Jobs eventually grew passionate about his work and he started loving what he did. But he didn’t follow his passion. He followed his effort.

But, then, why does everyone keep telling you to follow your passion?

Why People Tell You To Follow Your Passion

For the same reason that a YouTuber shares with you that putting toothpaste or 10 expensive products on her acne cured them overnight.

For the same reason that porn websites tell you to buy this cream for $100 and grow your dick thrice its size.

They tell you to follow your passion because you’ll buy it. It’s appealing and daring. It tells you that you have a “calling” and you have to muster the courage to find it and after that your life will be fantastic.

It sounds so sexy in our heads. It’s masturbation for the mind.

But if you break it down objectively, this advice is misleading, irrational and vague.  

How to follow your passion when there’s too much competition, no stable income and almost equal to zero requirements for it?

Ah, the classic “starving artist” image comes to mind.

And job satisfaction is much more complex than simply following your passion. It has much more key ingredients than simply the factor of loving what you do.

Also, it makes the assumption of you already having a preexisting passion.

What If You Don’t Have A Passion

“Follow your passion” advice assumes that you already have a passion. You just have to match a job to it.

But our interests drastically change throughout our lives.

In your childhood, you might’ve seen Titanic and wanted to be an actor. When you watched porn for the first time, you thought you’d make money fucking hot chicks, you know, you’ll do what you love.

So, what happened, dickhead? Why aren’t you making porno movies? And hey, I don’t see you clapping on the red carpet when Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar.

The truth is, the things that make you happy, the things that interest you, change throughout your life.

Also, you suck at predicting what will make you happy. Deciding you’ll have pizza or noodles for dinner is a toughie for you, but you can surely estimate what will make you happy.

Cal Newport has a way out. Instead of “following” your passion, you could “cultivate” your passion.

Instead of assuming that you just have to find your “calling”, find something that interests you. Work on it. Does it make you forget you have to decide between noodles and pizza?

If yes, great. You just found your passion.

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about “following your curiosity” in her hummingbird speech. She tells you to nurture your curious mind and give anything that interests you at least one shot.

Gilbert then uses hummingbird metaphors how you will fly from tree to tree, pollinating everywhere. And somewhere in the middle, you’ll find that something you don’t want to give up on.

That tree that you’d never want to leave. Here it is again: Following your curiosity has just led you to finding your passion.

And, right about now, you might be thinking, “This is complicated. What the heck should I do for my career?”

What Is Your Ikigai

According to the Japanese, everyone has an Ikigai. It’s a reason to “get up in the morning.”

Iki means life and Gai means value or worth. So, it’s something that gives value to your life.

It’s simply the heart of this image:

80,000 hours has covered all of it in their job satisfaction research.

What I like about the concept of Ikigai is that it has concrete, doable and rational concept of a “dream job.”

Whatever you choose to do should overlap between what you love to do, what you can get paid for, what the society needs and what you are good at.

Finding your ikigai gives meaning and purpose to your life.

Same things said in different ways: Cultivate your passion. Follow your effort. Follow your curiosity. Find your ikigai.

I know all of it sounds so unsexy. “Follow your passion” is so much more sexy in our brains. Effort, curiosity, cultivation, ikigai, not so much.

But that’s what life is. It’s about living it the “unsexy” way.

Forget following your passion. Find your unsexy.

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