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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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