Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

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fiby41
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Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by fiby41 » Fri Nov 20, 2015 9:29 pm

Could it be a viable alternative to ERE where you explore other options and pick one you like most before you retire, when you are just starting out, so that you won't have to retire because you don't like what you do

https://www.ted.com/talks/larry_smith_w ... anguage=en

This video points out its not that easy, dividing careers into great, good and other... and why the first two types are hard to find.

Does being good at something come from liking it or just doing it for extended periods of time making you good at it? Wouldn't it be easier to do anything for extended periods of time to get good at it if you like what you're doing? Thoughts?

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GandK
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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by GandK » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:31 pm

Absolutely not. "Aim your passion" is much better. Passion comes from within you. It is the energy you generate by anticipating good things. It is not something you pursue like a dog chasing a car.

G and I are passionate about the absolute necessity of separating the ideas of money and fulfillment for our kids. That's no surprise on this forum, but the idea ties in to this thread, because a lot of the subtext of "follow your passion" is "to make money." And these are two different things. They can intersect, but they don't have to. And if the things you most love doing don't make a lot of money, I think it's best that they don't intersect. It is not selling out to use your talents to earn money and save your interests for your off hours. In fact, it can help you enjoy your job much more if you don't have the pressure/expectation that it will, in addition to giving you a pathway to riches, fulfill all your deepest self-actualization needs. We wrong young people when that's what we set them up for, and then they arrive at the workplace and it's... a workplace.

It makes way more sense to me to advise young people to use their careers as a tool to enable their passions, as opposed to implying that the career and the passions are supposed to be one and the same.

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Dragline
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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Dragline » Fri Nov 20, 2015 10:47 pm

No, its bad advice for most people and fails to account for the fact that most people have not identified their "passion", that they may have more than one in a lifetime, and that such interests may change over time.

These are better advice, IMO:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MBaFL7sCb8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKlx1DLa9EA

The more insidious and unstated assumption of the advice, is that if you have not identified a passion and/or are not following it, you are probably some kind of loser. This is very limited and negative thinking indeed.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by SimpleLife » Sat Nov 21, 2015 12:16 am

Yes, it IS the right advice if one wants them to be broke for the rest of their lives. Examples? Arts majors, history majors, and other basket weaving degrees that are easy and thus useless.

I know lot's of poor arts majors. I don't have a passion for IT, but it helped me get ahead financially. Now I'm in a position that I can do what I want but I'm still sticking it out for now to get more of that sweet money that I sell my soul for. Get it while the getting is good and invest it for those rainy days.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by tonyedgecombe » Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:19 am

SimpleLife wrote:I know lot's of poor arts majors. I don't have a passion for IT, but it helped me get ahead financially. Now I'm in a position that I can do what I want but I'm still sticking it out for now to get more of that sweet money that I sell my soul for. Get it while the getting is good and invest it for those rainy days.
Yet I suspect there are quite a few people on these forums who work in IT and are following ERE because they want to leave the field as soon as possible.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by IlliniDave » Sat Nov 21, 2015 6:37 am

My general advice would be: don't follow your passion, follow a prudent path and carry your passion with you. The wording of that is a riff off of something Mike Rowe wrote, but it's essentially the advice I still give my daughters on the rare occasions they are interested in my opinion.

It isn't the most aspiring or emotionally satisfying advice, but it is pretty solid. I just think a person should hold their own well-being in higher regard, and make their passions subservient to that.

But relative to the OP, I don't think there's anything wrong with trying out number of options along the way to find a sweeter spot in income-quality of work life space. And many people leverage passions into hobbies that add enjoyment to life and/or act as money-making side-gigs. There's a lot of room for compromise.

I like to use the term vocation when someone is able to align their life's passion with their means for making a living. And that's great when it happens, it's just that many of us don't even have a single overriding, unchanging passion, much less one that other people are willing to give us money to pursue.

In terms of an individual navigating an occupation/career, I found it most expedient to adjust myself to my "career" rather than changing jobs to adjust my career to myself. I'm pretty good at it (my career/job), and it was a combination of natural ability and many years of experience that got me where I am. I've enjoyed it more as the years have worn on, but that's because I changed my outlook along the way. I won't belabor that idea here, but I expanded on it in my journal earlier this week. What I do for a living is not something I'd describe as a passion, not close, but at the same time I'm not retiring to escape my job because I don't like it. I'm looking to retire because there are other things I want to do that require I relocate.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Spartan_Warrior » Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:40 am

SimpleLife wrote:Arts majors, history majors, and other basket weaving degrees that are easy and thus useless.
There is a pretty tremendous difference between "not valuable to the corporate world" versus "easy and useless".

And therein lies the rub. I would say following your passion is generally not good advice for the goal of making money simply because very few people are actually passionate about things that matter to corporations. "When I grow up, I want to fill out TPS reports and politically outmaneuver the other middle managers!"

EDIT TO ADD: Which is why the only way I would advise anyone to follow their passions is if they're also willing (and able) to be their own boss. (For instance, those art majors could bring in a pretty penny working for themselves as freelance graphic designers, book cover artists, etc.) But since 9/10 small businesses crash and burn, I wouldn't say this qualifies as sure-fire general advice for the masses, either. You want the easy money, you're gonna be salaried somewhere, IMO.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by sky » Sat Nov 21, 2015 8:02 am

Choose a professional path based on what you are good at and what earns you a lot of money.

FI is the time to develop your passions and interests.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by bradley » Sat Nov 21, 2015 8:33 am

GandK wrote:It makes way more sense to me to advise young people to use their careers as a tool to enable their passions, as opposed to implying that the career and the passions are supposed to be one and the same.
This point resonates with me because there really is a difference between what you get paid to do and what you simply have a passion for. As someone who "chose my passion" in college, a lot of the heartache I've had because of my job comes from mixing the two. The realities of a job where you are fundamentally told what to do are not aligned with what people expect from doing something they're passionate about. That misalignment causes stress and frustration.

So, no, I don't think it's good advice in terms of finding paid employment. Your passion should be something you do on your own terms or terms you can accept almost wholeheartedly. A job can just be something you're good at and use to make money.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by SimpleLife » Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:27 am

Actually graphic artists are important to the corp world, where do you think all the graphics for software and web sites comes from? It's just that it is not that hard of a skill, so there is a huge supply of people who can do it.

As such there are plenty of people here in Seattle they rarely make more than an admin assistant. They are paid roughly $20 an hour. We have many of them at work, even in a hcol area they are not paid much. The admins make about $25.

This is people with a decade of experience...

Unless you go to a major school and get a job with a billionaire art buyer, it's not worth it. But these are the exceptions.

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Dragline
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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Dragline » Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:57 pm

Good analytical breakdown of why this advice is bad for most people and may make you worse off emotionally:

http://financialmentor.com/podcast/foll ... sion/11640

These guys hit the nail on the head.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Tyler9000 » Thu Nov 26, 2015 2:05 am

DW's initial reaction to the question: "It depends on the passion. If your passion is to be an engineer or a doctor, then follow your passion!" I think there's something to that.

A fulfilling and successful career usually requires three ingredients: interest (aka passion), aptitude, and opportunity. When all three align, you're in great shape. When one or more are neglected, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

So I think the general advice to follow your passion may be partially true but by neglecting the rest of the story is usually bad advice. Sometimes the best balance of all three ingredients that will ultimately make you happiest and most successful looks a lot different than your perceived dream job. Seeing the big picture takes wisdom and maturity that the pure passion crowd, in all their idealism, too often lacks.

But IMHO the purely utilitarian crowd is also shortsighted. Like most things in life, this is an issue where a balanced approach is most valuable.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by calixarene » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:11 am

One viable alternative is to get partway to FI with a practical job, and then follow your passion(s). For instance, I'm planning to work until I reach about a 6% withdrawal rate, then semi-retire without touching my savings. My savings should compound over time so that by the time I fully retire, they'll more than cover my expenses.
And due to the low expenses of my ERE lifestyle, I'll be able to live on what meager income I make following my passions! :)

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by OldPro » Thu Nov 26, 2015 11:58 am

Which passion? The one I had at 20 or the one I had at 30 or the one I had at 40 or the one I had at 50 or the one I had at 60? Did I mention the one I had at 36 or the one I had at 47?

Follow your passion is an easy to say phrase with very little real meaning in my opinion. It is ridiculous to think you will only ever have one passion in your life. Passion is simply a strong interest and interests come and go throughout your life. It makes much more sense to me to do something you enjoy doing until you stop enjoying it and then change to something else.

What does not make sense is to continue doing something you really do not like doing, simply because it pays you to do it.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Sclass » Thu Nov 26, 2015 12:57 pm

OldPro pretty much said it. Your passions change.

This was a famous self help book. That in itself should tell you a lot.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Love-Money-W ... 0440501601

It fits into the formula, sell a dream to a bunch of hopeless people who have $1.50 for your paperback and get rich. After you finish the book you have this feeling,"wow really, it's that easy? Gee, I should have known. I too can be rich. "

Twenty years later I can see the five stars at Amazon written by a bunch of people who actually survived this meaningless phrase. The book is full of wonderful anecdotes. A testament to the survivorship bias.

I was given this book by a passionate loser. Struggling artistic genius. She was good too. That was the sad part. Had she become a dentist like her parents wanted her to, the world (my world) would have lost a wonderful creator of beauty. But she struggled financially because she followed her passion.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by jennypenny » Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:40 pm

Short video with Mike Rowe's take on it ... http://youtu.be/NT1i26RbrhM

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Dragline » Mon Apr 04, 2016 5:30 am

jennypenny wrote:Short video with Mike Rowe's take on it ... http://youtu.be/NT1i26RbrhM
+1 -- he explains why that advice is so limiting and that it originates with a small, non-representative group that it happened to work out for.

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GandK
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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by GandK » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:32 am

Alain de Botton talk on seeking wisdom, following passions, and modern capitalism (YouTube, 22 minutes).

One could conclude from this speech that forming Aristotelian mission statements may help your life, relationships and career. :D

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by NPV » Mon Apr 18, 2016 4:24 pm

Sclass wrote:OldPro pretty much said it. Your passions change.

This was a famous self help book. That in itself should tell you a lot.

http://www.amazon.com/What-Love-Money-W ... 0440501601

It fits into the formula, sell a dream to a bunch of hopeless people who have $1.50 for your paperback and get rich. After you finish the book you have this feeling,"wow really, it's that easy? Gee, I should have known. I too can be rich. "

Twenty years later I can see the five stars at Amazon written by a bunch of people who actually survived this meaningless phrase. The book is full of wonderful anecdotes. A testament to the survivorship bias.

I was given this book by a passionate loser. Struggling artistic genius. She was good too. That was the sad part. Had she become a dentist like her parents wanted her to, the world (my world) would have lost a wonderful creator of beauty. But she struggled financially because she followed her passion.
I like this review found on the link you shared:
"I gave this book two stars not because of the writing, but because the title is misleading. If you're looking for courage to quit your high-paying but soulless job for more soulful work--and maintain your standard of living--this book won't deliver.

Perhaps a better title would be DO WHAT YOU LOVE, THE MONEY WON'T MATTER. That would set a reader's expectations more in line with the book's message. The cases in the book were not monetarily successful. However, they show that if you follow your heart, the money won't matter. The things that money can buy when working a soulless career, such as vacations, clothes, cars, and so on lose their appeal as a reward, because what you DO is the reward. You no longer need what money can buy because you have what money can't buy: love."


I think this is not a terrible way to think about it. Obviously, limiting something complex such as choosing a career to only one dimension (whether you like a particular area) will not be a dominant (or even a very good) decision strategy. But I think for many people, this might actually lead to better outcomes than status quo, because many times other dimensions (what you are good at, fundamentals of supply-demand of a particular kind of professionals) will not be terribly different (e.g., choosing to be a nurse instead of an investment banker because you are really passionate about improving people's health and really not passionate about finance; you can still make very good money and reach FI if you want, but you will be spending the majority of your waking hours doing something that is meaningful to you). Obviously, in some other cases it might be terrible advice (e.g., major in arts instead of accounting).

My point is, it is far from the best available advice, but also far from the worst for most people. [something about Wheaton levels]

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Tyler9000 » Tue Jun 07, 2016 10:06 am

Saw this today and thought it was great:

Dont Follow Your Passion

https://youtu.be/CVEuPmVAb8o

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by jennypenny » Tue Jun 07, 2016 10:36 am

Rowe and Ferriss discussed the same thing on a recent podcast. Kevin Kelly said basically the same thing on the podcast I linked to in the 'listening' thread. Kelly's advice was to master something to use as a gateway to finding your passion. I liked the idea of mastering something that would give you the money, contacts, experience, etc. needed and then build from there to figure out what you're passionate about.

They (Rowe and Ferriss) also talked about how monetizing a hobby can kill your passion for it. Now that I've experienced that a couple of times, I have to agree with them.

They actually discussed a lot of ERE-related topics and were very funny. http://fourhourworkweek.com/2016/05/04/mike-rowe/

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by tylerrr » Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:13 am

tonyedgecombe wrote:
SimpleLife wrote:I know lot's of poor arts majors. I don't have a passion for IT, but it helped me get ahead financially. Now I'm in a position that I can do what I want but I'm still sticking it out for now to get more of that sweet money that I sell my soul for. Get it while the getting is good and invest it for those rainy days.
Yet I suspect there are quite a few people on these forums who work in IT and are following ERE because they want to leave the field as soon as possible.

This is pretty much my story and it paid off financially. I retired after a 20 year career in the military as a commissioned officer within the IT field. For most of my career, I did IT work I didn't particularly enjoy that much. I enjoy being a developer, but unfortunately that never hardly fit into my job description as an IT project manager and supervisor of technicians.

Now, I have a lifetime pension and plenty of savings. I'm FIRE, but choose to work part time and I'm going to graduate school full time this Fall, which is paid for by the GI Bill(or I wouldn't even think of paying for Grad school out of pocket).

The point is...I almost got out of the military on several occasions because it wasn't "my passion", but whenever I did the math I knew a pension was extremely valuable long-term and I could delay pursuing passions on a more full time basis. One of my passions is drumming and I've gotten to improve dramatically after military separation and get to play in a jazz ensemble.

I would agree you should find a path where you can obtain some financial security and hopefully that will bleed over "some" with a passion.

I am so grateful that I decided to tough it out and complete my 20 years in the military. It was tough at times, but there's a huge payoff.

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Dragline
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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Dragline » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:12 pm

This goes here -- from Scott Galloway, one of my favorite sarcastic presenters:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJiw6MqmB5g

As he says to the OP question: "What bullshit!"

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by denise » Tue Oct 25, 2016 6:40 pm

I had a passion for what I do when I first started. Took a break for two years to take care of my mother, and my own health, and I just got back into it, but I don't have the same passion. I still like what I do, but after researching so much other stuff while out of the job market, not only do I not care for working anymore, I want to live my life differently than what an 8:30-5 allows. So I'm in the compromise phase, because I still need to reach FIRE.

I still like my chosen field. I'm just not passionate anymore. I worked part-time at a job completely unrelated to my field for 8 months and hated it. So, try to aim for something you like. Being miserable for a time for a future you may or may not live to see isn't great either. Try to find a balance. To do that, get to know yourself as quickly as possible, and take advantage of any opportunity that pops up, even if it seems unrelated or unlikely.

Or, if you have to miserable work, try to make life outside of it ideal as possible.

Compromise.

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Re: Is "follow your passion" the right advice to give people starting out?

Post by Farm_or » Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:44 am

YES!

"You're fired!" Was what I heard from my very first employer. (among other inappropriate explicitives). So, I started looking for another summer job at age 16.

"I heard that safeway is hiring." My dad told me over supper. "That's a good union job, with good pay."

And so I applied and when they responded, thought that I was going for an interview. To my surprise, the room was full of people. There must have been twenty people trying for the few open positions. I was the last to arrive, although I was ten minutes early, and they began the battery of tests. The first was mathematical, the second was dexterity. It was like placing shapes into cut outs on a board and it was timed.

I sailed through the mathematics okay, but the dexterity test seemed ridiculous to me. And all of this for a minimum wage job that I was not excited about? I wasn't motivated and gave half effort to the dexterity test.

"Before we proceed to the next test," the administrator stood up to say, "we will call every name that has passed so far. If we don't call your name, please leave with our best wishes, but we won't have a position for you."

Was I embarassed to be the only one leaving?! I wondered if I made a mistake, but my heart just wasn't in it. My dad, however, had fallen in love with his son being a good union worker like him.

"You are an idiot! You will never find another good union job like that in this town! You blew the only good chance you had because you're too stupid to try hard!"

"I don't care! I didn't want to be a stupid box boy anyway!"

The very next day, I went to town to apply for more jobs. The top of my list seemed to be a long shot, but I loved the industry, because I was already a bit of a motorhead. So I conjured up the courage to go there first. It was our local NAPA with a full machine shop in the back.

I swallowed hard stepping up to the counter to inquire for employment. As luck would have it, the manager was in ear shot and came out of his office to talk to me. My enthusiasm must have shown, because after a short Q and A, he asked me when I could start.

"How about right now?" And I was instantly hired at that time's dream job!

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