Should You Do What You Love?

Do you really need to follow your passion to be happy and successful?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about passion in what we do in life. And I’ve come to the conclusion that although there are a lot of success quotes on how you should ‘do what you love’ and if you ‘follow your passion, the money will come’ it’s not that simple.

I’m going to take the idea of figuring out what you’re passionate about and break it down to a few components. I think this is really important because no matter what you do in life, whether you have a job or you run your own business (or both), getting started is what’s important.

And the whole idea of doing what you love and figuring out your passion really holds people up. They debate about it endlessly and use it as an excuse to basically, do nothing.

I know many people are desperate to start their own business, but they just can’t do it because the decision making process holds them up. Trying to figure out their niche has become an impossible feat because they feel it’s such an important decision. They don’t know how to take a step forward with it.

They are stuck in the ‘do what you love mode’ and don’t know if what they love can really be translated into a viable business (which honestly, often it cannot).

I remember listening to an audio recording of Loral Langemeir ages ago (probably at least 8 year ago) and she was trying to tackle this same question of whether or not you have to do what you love to be happy and successful. She did not think so because a lot of people have passions about something that isn’t going to be profitable.

And then there are people who think you really have to follow your passion. LiveYourLegend.com has some great messages about this.

Honestly though, I don’t think you need to love the thing you’re doing to be happy and successful.

And the reason is because it’s more complicated than just loving what you’re doing.

‘Do what you love’ is really just a slogan.

It’s generic and reality isn’t always that simple.

Overall, yes, I hope you’re having fun in business and in life, but I think there’s more to it than ‘following your passion’.

I think there are at least 4 parts to this conversation to really get somewhere with it.

Here’s the first part …

Does the Role Fit You?

For example, if you absolutely hate making decisions and would rather be given a task to do, running a business is not going to be your thing.

There’s no type of business that’s going to be your thing.  That’s because by running a business you’re the one in charge. So you’re going to be the one making the decisions.

A person can learn to make decisions, but it’s all going to come down to how comfortable you are in that role.

You may learn to make decisions, but you may still hate that role. And if so it just doesn’t fit you.

On the flip side if you’re in a job and you constantly complain about the management making poor decisions wishing you could be the one calling the shots then you’d probably love this role.

So it’s really just a matter of how happy you are in the overall role of decision making.

Are you scared and anxious all the time because you don’t trust yourself?

If so can you change this?

Are you willing to do what it takes to change to fit in the role?

Or are you thrilled and feeling freedom at all the things you’re in charge of?

It’s pretty easy to see how this simple element could make a person completely miserable if they get it wrong no matter if all the other elements are a perfectly on target.

Does the Market Fit You?

Instead of calling it a passion, is the market something you believe in?

I think this is really important.  I have beliefs that I’m not super passionate about.

But I believe so strongly in them that I’d be happy running a business related to that belief or maybe even working for a company where that belief is a core element.

And then there are my non-beliefs.

As an example of a non-belief, I would not be OK selling weight loss pills.

Or really any pharmaceuticals.

I’m not a doctor and even if I was unless someone is an actual patient I don’t believe you should sell them medical drugs at all.  I’d even be freaked out about selling someone supposed ‘natural drugs’. Or possibly even pills with some ‘natural’ component to them like vitamins.

I’m not saying everyone should feel this way, but I’m fully aware that this is how I feel.

So I know that type of market is not a good fit for me. Even if it wasn’t my own business, I could not work for someone else selling pharmaceuticals to individuals. The whole idea would worry cause me too much worry and stress.

There are many other markets I would not want to be involved in.

So I think it’s important to consider whether or not the market is in alignment with your belief system.

Ideally you should believe in what you’re doing 100%.

That’s the best situation.

But as a rule, you need to move away from markets that conflict with your beliefs.  You’ll never be happy if you’re involved in something that goes against your belief system.

Do You Like the Tasks You’re Doing?

It doesn’t matter if both the role and the market fit you, if what you’re doing on a daily basis doesn’t have an element of fun or challenge to it then it’s going to drag you down.

As a business owner you may be able to outsource the tasks you don’t like. And that’s what you should strive for.  But this may not be possible at first.

So try to steer your daily activities in the direction of things you like doing.

For example, if you’re using a blog to help promote a product or service then you need to make sure you’re OK producing the content. If you don’t like writing then produce video content.  If you don’t like talking to yourself then a podcast is probably not for you.

So don’t just jump wildly into something that you aren’t going to like because you may have to do it for a while. Make sure you like at least most of the tasks you’ve got to do.

The happiest people spend their days doing things they like doing and that interest them.

Are You Succeeding?

Not only should you do things you like doing, but you should do things that you’re good at.

Going back to our previous example of blogging to promote your business, can you successfully write articles people want to read?  Or would you be better at creating videos?

You want to feel like you’re succeeding.

I know I’m not happy if I keep doing things I’m bad at and hear how I’ve done a poor job of something.

I’d rather stack the deck so that I’m feeling like I’m doing a good job.

So I do things that I know are my strengths.

You should too.

And to really delve deep with this one, you also need to feel like you’re making progress in life and in business. It’s not as fun to tread water as it is to really swim and get somewhere.

When I first started on the journey to becoming an entrepreneur, the first thing I had to do was create a product.

I remember working on the product during a summer vacation to visit family in California and the next year, on the same yearly summer vacation to visit family, I was still creating the product.

When the realization that I wasn’t in a better place hit me, that it had been a whole year and I was still doing the same thing, with no money coming in, I was upset.  I had a hard time coming to terms with the whole idea that I had not moved forward a whole lot between one summer to the next.

And then I realized there was no reason why I’d be making any money at that point. I did not have the first step finished. I did not have a product to sell.

I’ve heard from a lot of people who’ve gotten started with something and are moving toward a business that are frustrated. They’ll show me a website or blog that they’ve got up and how nothing’s happening with it and when I take a look it’s got like 5 articles on it.

That’s a good start, but how many people who are making money only have 5 articles on their site? Especially if SEO and content marketing is the way they plan to drive traffic?

No one.

You need a lot of content to get somewhere with SEO and although you can start with 5 articles, you really need to keep going from there.

So just try to figure out if you’ve really gotten to the point where you should be seeing the type of progress you want.

That will help you feel like you’re moving forward.

If you own a business then you only get paid when you accomplish something that leads to making money. If you’re working for someone else then you get paid for doing tasks.

So there’s a big difference.

You don’t want to feel like you’re working like crazy in your business and not earning any money. So make sure you’re doing and completing tasks that make you money.

And that’s something that when everything else is in alignment makes me very excited and passionate about my business.

How do you feel about the idea of following your passion?

13 replies
  1. Brian
    Brian says:

    Hi Lisa
    This is something I have struggled with for a few years actually. My passion and beliefs are pertaining to a large market (get out of debt) but I feel I swim against the tide in the message I want to promote. Is this a battle worth fighting or do I pick a market I am just ok with in order to build a successful business first – before tackling my passion.
    Thanks
    Brian

    Reply
    • Lisa Parmley
      Lisa Parmley says:

      Brian, the getting out of debt market is huge and if you’re passionate about it that’s a bonus. I’d go for that if it were me. There will always be some people who like your method and messages (especially if they’ve tried other things and it didn’t work for them).

      Reply
  2. Stanley Davenport
    Stanley Davenport says:

    Hi Lisa; I’ve struggled with this notion of following your passion all of my life. Even way before thinking about using the Internet for earning a living. All the guru life coaches were saying this but I really had no passion for any one thing. My background required me to become proficient in a number of skills and to be an independent thinker, so living a mono-focused life was not an option.
    Your article is good food for thought in that sometimes we need to unplug from the main stream of nonsense coming out of the mouth of people that want to pigeon-hole us just so we will have to look to them for “wisdom” on how to make our next move. Hey! Maybe living outside the box looking in is my passion. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Lisa Parmley
      Lisa Parmley says:

      Hi Stanley,

      A lot of people aren’t really passionate about any one thing in particular. But you may be excited about running a business even if the exact market you’re in isn’t your passion. Helping people is at the core of most businesses, so I’d just focus on that and pick something you’re good at.

      Reply
  3. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I am trying to do what I love on my own terms. Launching a new product soon! But, since I’m here, can you please post an article about WordPress Themes. I bought Thesis a while back and it is the biggest hunk of crap I’ve ever had to deal with. Do you have any advice for non-expert php css people as to a good alternative to Thesis. That platform really sucks bad and it’s taking time from my being able to actually work on my business.

    Thanks for putting up with my rant.

    Reply
    • Lisa Parmley
      Lisa Parmley says:

      Creating a website is a hassle. You can use an HTML editor instead of WordPress if you want. I agree that it’s a pain, but if you’re going to have a lot of content on your site, it may be worth it to learn. Unfortunately you either have to pay to set a site up or learn on your own. Sorry 🙁

      Reply
  4. Oscar Almeida
    Oscar Almeida says:

    Hi Lisa, I just bought into your inlineseo membership and will eventually buy all your products. I want you to know the reason why I bought your S E O training membership. Every article that you’ve written resonates with me with the power of learning and not just throwing crap against the wall to see what sticks.

    This article about should you do what you love is the most accurate article I have read in a very long time.

    I am proud to be a new Lisanite member and student that is willing to learn.

    Thank You,

    Your New Pupil,

    Oscar Almeida

    Reply
  5. Sharon Herrman
    Sharon Herrman says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Fabulous analysis of the prattle around the over-hyped term “Passion”.
    It’s absolutely possible to create a thriving business without feeling “passion” for the type of business. I think that folks are confusing “passion” for “commitment”…if you are truly passionate about the concept or the skills/expertise needed (so totally absorbed, dedicated and confident in it – not just really “liking”), then you will have the stamina and commitment to work through the difficulties and fears – which will come. So I guess the question is: Can my “passion” sustain me through to success?
    I have been in a number of businesses that I was “passionate” about – but nothing like my current company, Zelda’s Song…www.zeldassong.com. The depth of my commitment is beyond anything I’ve experienced – and I just about live to grow it (the money is good, too).
    Sharon Herrman

    Reply

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