Written by Melissa Anzman
I have a confession to make… it’s something that I’ve alluded to in the past, maybe even said it in different words, but it’s time to come clean. My “dream job,” the thing I was most passionate about, the thing I built my business around… sucked in reality.
Let me explain a bit more.
For ages, I kept hearing the advice: follow your passion. “When you do something you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” And various other iterations of the passion is awesome advice.
First I agonized over what the heck “finding my passion” meant… and how to go about doing that. I had always approached work as following opportunities and leveraging my strengths or growing my skills. I didn’t understand how passion should be incorporated into that. But I kept searching and finally “found my passion.” Or maybe, what my ideal job is.
I spent time figuring out what my ideal day looked like, listing out all of my skills, what I did and didn’t want in my future career, and so on. And all answers pointed to me being my own boss. If you know me, that’s not a far stretch.
So I opened a career coaching business… and felt burned out within a year. It’s not that I didn’t like what I was doing or the people I was working with it, it’s that it felt like a J-O-B again. And my default with that feeling is, “If I’m going to work in a J-O-B, I may as well go back to corporate and get a high paying job that makes me feel the same way as I do now.”
Not the right mindset, I’ll be the first to admit. But I have this weird career-quirk, maybe it’s a personality quirk, I’m not sure. But when I feel like I’m “in a job,” I am MISERABLE. That’s not me being overly dramatic, it feels so taxing and awful and… miserable. Everything else in my life suffers to.
And I felt lied to – I followed my passion, I created a business based around it, and within a year, that same corporate drone misery set-in. Again.
So I followed the next shiny object – another passion of mine. Hey, follow your bliss, right? Built another company around that passion and thought the problem was solved.
But of course, the same thing happened. I hit my burnout point or “misery level”… and was left feeling stuck and like a huge failure (even though I had officially created two successful businesses!).
Why am I telling you this? First, to let you know that if you’re feeling the same way, you’re definitely not alone. Sometimes your passions don’t pan out as a business or career choice. It’s not you, you’re not failing in some way, you’re not defective (like how I felt). Also, to let you know that passions don’t have to be forever things. And sometimes, when you build your career around your passion, it kills it.
Of course I keep pivoting to new paths and ideas, trying to find the intersection of my skills, my “passion,” and what people will pay me for. Or better yet, how I can build something that has a shorter shelf-life, but continues to move me forward on my path.
Oh, and that “passion stuff”… I’ve started to look at it as things I like doing. Not what gets me out of bed. Not what is an awesome hobby. But what I wouldn’t mind doing for work.
Maybe follow your passion was the worst advice I’ve ever gotten – but I’ve learned that passion flame outs, don’t equate to failure. And more important – for me, passion needs to stay in my side projects/hobbies. Not the center focus of my business (unless I’m ready to explore a new passion!).
Melissa Anzman is the creator of Launch Your Job where she equips ambitious leaders with practical ways to grow their career. She is the author of two books: How to Land a Job and Stop Hating Your Job. Follow her@MelissaAnzman.