Advertising
Advertising

4 Reasons People Who Follow Their Passions Fail (and How to Avoid Them)

4 Reasons People Who Follow Their Passions Fail (and How to Avoid Them)

Following your passion is a great way to live. It’s a lousy way to make a living. For most people, anyway.

Why’s that? Because not all passions can be made profitable. And, for those that can, not all passion followers have the right knowledge and skills to be successful in their endeavors. Not to mention the patience.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that following your passion is a bad thing, even as a career. It’s worked for a few people. You know. You’ve read their stories on the internet. The headlines that proclaim “I gave up a [successful career/six-figure salary/dead-end job], moved to a [foreign country/tropical paradise/treehouse in the jungle] to pursue my dream of [scooping ice cream/opening a yoga studio/becoming a modern-day Robinson Crusoe] and never looked back.”

Well, I’m calling it bullsh*t.

Because let me let you in on a little secret. It. Almost. Never. Happens. That’s why those unlikely stories are so intriguing. They’re aberrations. Anomalies. Completely out of reach of the average person.

Advertising

There’s More to the Story

Now that I’ve successfully dashed your hopes of realizing your dream, here’s the good news. It is entirely possible to follow your passion and still be successful doing so.

But in order to succeed, you must avoid these five mistakes that make people who follow their passions fail. It’s only by dodging these pitfalls that I’ve been able to get to where I am today.

1. They think they can follow their passions all the way to the bank.

Some passions translate well into careers or business endeavors. Others do not. Take me, for example. Sure, I’m passionate about real estate. But I’m also passionate about nature, travel, fishing, and lots of other stuff that’s never made me a dime.

What if, instead of real estate, I’d chosen fishing as a career? Spoiler alert: I would never have made much, if any, money as a professional fisherman. Yeah, maybe I could have moved to the tropics and opened an operation that offered deep sea fishing charters. But that’s not exactly the most lucrative profession out there.

Instead, I focused my efforts on something I knew I could make money doing. I worked hard to be successful at that and, as a result, I now get to enjoy all those other interests as much as I want!

Advertising

Bottom line: If you can’t make money doing what you love, then make money doing something else. Then put that money towards pursuing your passion.

2. They may love it, but they don’t understand it.

When I was getting my start in the real estate world, I had a heck of a lot to learn. And when I moved my family down to Central America to start investing in property down here, I had to learn way more. Property valuations and real estate transactions just don’t work the same as they do in the U.S.

I had to do a ton of research just to learn about the process, before I could even consider making any investments. I talked to realtors, attorneys, and other professionals. I talked to local farmers and land owners, the ones who would ultimately be the people I would be buying property from.

It was more work that I’d ever dreamed I’d have to put in. But it paid off. My business partner and I could never have experienced the success we’ve found if we’d approached the Latin market with only the knowledge we had when we left the U.S.

In other words, being passionate about something isn’t enough. You’ve got to know it backwards and forwards. Eat, sleep, and breathe it. And, most importantly, be willing to keep working hard at it even when it isn’t easy.

Advertising

3. They don’t have an exit plan.

One important thing to note about my success in the U.S. real estate market was that it happened during the biggest boom the business has ever seen. Practically everybody was developing projects and flipping houses. Any idiot could have made money in that market.

That was one of the reasons my partner and I started looking toward the tropics. We saw what was happening in the U.S., and we knew it wasn’t sustainable. We suspected a crash was coming, although we thought it would be specific to real estate; we just didn’t know when.

We could never have imagined the magnitude of the global economic crisis that ensued. But thankfully we had already devised a plan to not only stay afloat, but to build a thriving business in spite of the unfavorable conditions.

In short, if the pursuit of your passion is all that you have on your radar, then you will be devastated if–no WHEN–the unthinkable happens. And you will lie awake at night in fear that it will.

4. They rush in with guns blazing.

When my partner and I decided Latin America was the place to be, we didn’t turn in a two weeks’ notice, sell everything we had, and buy a one-way ticket. We took our time, and we did our due diligence.

Advertising

We spent every day for months scouting properties. We traveled the entire Pacific Coast from the El Salvadorian border, through Nicaragua and Costa Rica, and down to Panama. That’s when a lightbulb came on, and we knew we’d found the right place to focus our efforts.

Even then we had many more weeks of searching before we settled on what ultimately became our first project. Meanwhile, we still had work going on back in the States to help sustain us until we could get things off the ground in the tropics.

We spent many days puttering around in a beat-up truck with a crude map, trying to reach some remote destination. We’d drive until we ran out of road. Then we’d find a guy with a horse or a canoe and keep going til we got to where we were headed.

My advice to you? Don’t buy into the hype. Getting to a place where you can live a life you’re passionate about is not an overnight process. It takes work. But, more importantly, it takes time.

What’s Really Going on Behind the Scenes

The climax of most true “following your passion” success stories isn’t a mystical epiphany, an impulsive decision, or a rare stroke of luck. Instead it’s a mixture of many far less glamorous elements. Like patience, prudence, and a lot of hard work.

Sure your success story may not go viral on social media. But when you read the ones that do, you can laugh, like I do, knowing they just got lucky. Things may work out for them; they may not. But, at the end of the day, you and I can sleep a helluva lot better at night.

Featured photo credit: woman-1006100_1920/Counselling via pixabay.com

More by this author

20 Health Benefits of Coffee (And How to Get the Maximum Benefits of It) 5 Simple Steps To Owning Your Own Overseas Paradise 4 Reasons People Who Follow Their Passions Fail (and How to Avoid Them) 4 Tips for Overcoming Fear from a Surfer Who Nearly Drowned 5 Tropical Islands You Could Actually Afford

Trending in Career Advice

1 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 2 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 3 10 Websites To Learn Something New In 30 Minutes A Day 4 50 Great People To Follow On LinkedIn, No Matter Your Industry 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

Advertising

Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

Advertising

If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

Advertising

Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

Advertising

How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

More Articles to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next