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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

Don’t Do What You Love, Instead Do This

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Don’t Do What You Love, Instead Do This

Everywhere you look, you will find people who are not happy about their work. They wish to get more out of life or are undecided about what to do next in life.

It is during these times where you hear a particular piece of advice. You may have given it to someone else or you may have heard it yourself:

Do what you love.

This phrase comes in many forms:

  • Follow your passion.
  • With hard work and determination, you can live the dream.
  • Find your calling.

The optimism behind these phrases is well-intentioned, however, it is the worst kind of advice to give to anyone. Instead, I present in this article some possible alternatives to this.

Why Doing What You Love Is Bad Advice?

Before jumping into what you should be considering, it is worth considering why this advice is a terrible one. Again, you may be someone who dishes this out like it is candy or perhaps this is the only piece of advice you have heard.

Before getting into too many details, we first need to develop and explore what passions are. These are the things that define ourselves and give us meaning.

Where the issue rests with this advice is using it as an ideal for whether your life is fulfilled or fulfilling.

It Can Lead to More Confusion

This advice raises a lot of questions. The biggest one is “what is passion? What does it mean to be passionate?”

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Psychology Today contributor Allison E McWilliams Ph.D. wrote an interesting part about our relationship to work [1]. She described three key work orientations:

  • Job orientation – work is a means to an end, allowing you to pursue other things in life.
  • Career orientation – care about work that allows the person to get promoted.
  • Calling orientation – the work you do creates your identity. Your meaning.

The point here is that while some of us may not be passionate about the work, you are doing the work for a reason. The advice of “doing what you love” falls more into a calling orientation and that might not be something you wish to pursue.

After all, there is nothing wrong with any of these orientations. Neither one of them is superior to the others. This can lead to confusion amongst people because they may have worked for completely different reasons.

Every Job Has a Sore Spot

Whether you are in-between careers or are feeling unhappy about your work, it can feel like the grass is greener on the other side. Following the advice of doing what you love feels great at first, but it can be short-lived.

It is because every job out there is going to have something that you are not going to enjoy. There is going to be something you have to do that makes it feel like busywork rather than something you are passionate about.

It becomes a chore and, in turn, you could lose the passion that is driving you forward to that path.

This raises another point.

Passions Do Not Always Need to Become Careers

People have multiple passions, which give us more options to do what we love. It seems great at first, but as mentioned, some things can cause our attitudes to shift.

Perhaps you have too many passions and you get lost, confused or frustrated with what you are trying to do.

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Or maybe you run into something that alters how you view your passion. For example, cooking is a great passion. But if you decide to become a chef, you would be subject to making the same dishes constantly with little variety.

When people give this advice out, some of them assume that we only have one thing that we love doing. But that is not true. You have several passions. Not to mention, you can turn many hobbies or passions into businesses today thanks to technology and business tools.

What Options Should You Consider?

Following something based on your passion can lead to problems, but it does not change the situation. As such, here are some things you can keep in mind that can help you lead a more fulfilling life.

1. Look at Your Skill Set

You have various skills and talents that can help in various parts of a job. If you have communication skills, chances are you are good at any kind of job that requires you to be vocal.

The idea is to look at yourself and see what sort of skills you have and how it matches up to something you wish to do. When you identify your strengths or something that requires little effort from you to perform, it means you have an opportunity to develop it further.

For example, if you are skilled around a kitchen, you know you have a few key dishes that you can make. But you can still grow that skill by trying out new dishes, picking up a few new spices. This allows you to broaden the skill at your own pace.

When you are looking at your overall skill set, you will be able to get a better idea of what you could pursue and how you can scale it. By spending some time with it, you can even find a way to do more with that skill at your current workplace.

2. Apply Some Tests

In Cal Newport’s book So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Search for Work You Love, Newport explains why passion is not something to pursue. Instead, passion is something that follows you after you have put in the hard work.

With this in mind, there are two tests that you can try out to determine whether a passion should stay a passion or whether you can turn it into a career.

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The first test is a passion test.

Think of something that you are passionate about.  But here is the catch: ask yourself whether someone will pay you to do that.

Going back to a previous point, money matters a lot and even if you are doing what you love, it is not going to fill empty stomachs or keep you warm at night. It is a harsh reality.

Not only that, but people do not necessarily care how passionate you are at something. Instead, they care about giving up money. Is the money they’re putting in giving them enough of a benefit? It all comes back to whether someone is willing to pay for your passionate work.

The second test is the experience test.

For this test, you want to gauge how much experience you have in that area and how much you are willing to spend in that area.

With this test, our passion becomes something that drives us to spend time and effort on something. The people who are being paid for a passion they have are unlike those at the bottom of the industry barely getting by.

The difference between those who are thriving and those who are not is that the former ones have gone through a feedback effect. This is when you practice hard enough that you figure out you are better than others when it comes to this task.

You can get other feedback in other ways, but overall, it creates a loop where that feedback motivates you to practice more. You begin to develop a system or a process that allows you to progress more and develop your skills.

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By conducting these two tests, you can begin to see in time whether this is something you want to be pursuing. With more feedback, you learn more about yourself and whether you can pursue this.

3. Be Practical, Not Only Passionate

In an article published in Quartz, Catherine Baab-Muguira talked about her reasoning for pursuing a career that pays well over doing something you love. [2]

She argues that when you are working for money, your purpose for work is clearer. Not only that, but money is also a problem that you can mostly solve, and it is a good goal to have overall.

Her philosophy is that the more money you make now, the less you will need later on in life and the less you will have to worry about it when pursuing those other passions.

It is a practical approach. After all, money cannot buy happiness, but it can lead to many happy events in life. Overall, it can be a good motivator for you, and it can shape how you are viewing your work now.

Passion is something that comes in the work that we do. It is something that follows us rather than something we ought to pursue. Instead of taking that advice, spend time looking at yourself and begin to ask questions.

What are you passionate about? What passion can help you make money? Is it something you know you can do for a long time?

Keeping a level head and thinking rationally about our passions can help us sift through what can bring us to a new and improved life.

Final Thoughts

Doing what you love seems good at first. It makes us feel good because it leads us to believe that we are always in control of our lives. However, the harsh reality of life makes this advice impractical.

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It is the best scenario for us if we can do what we love for a living, but it is also fine if not.

Learn More About Doing What You Love

Featured photo credit: Gianandrea Villa via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 7, 2021

How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

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How to Make a Change With the Four Quadrants of Change

Quitting smoking is the easiest thing in the world. Some people quit smoking a thousand times in their lives! Everyone knows someone with this mindset.

But this type of change is superficial. It doesn’t last. For real, lasting change to take place, we need to consider the quadrants of change.

Real change, the change that is fundamental, consistent, and longitudinal (lasting over time) has to happen in four quadrants of your life.

It doesn’t have to be quitting smoking; it can be any habit you want to break — drinking, biting your nails, overeating, playing video games, shopping, and more.

Most experts focus on only one area of change, some focus on two areas, but almost none focus on all four quadrants of change. That’s why much of change management fails.

Whether it is in the personal life of a single individual through actions and habits, or in a corporate environment, regarding the way they conduct their business, current change management strategies are lacking.

It all stems from ignoring at least one part of the equation.

So, today, we will cover all four quadrants of change and learn the formula for how to change fundamentally and never go back to your “old self.”

A word of warning: this is simple to do, but it’s not easy. Anyone who tells you that change is easy is either trying to sell you something, or they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Those who want an overnight solution have left the article now, so that leaves you, me, and the real process of change.

The Four Quadrants of Change

There are four areas, or quadrants, in which you need to make a change in order for it to stick. If you miss or ignore a single one of these, your change won’t stick, and you will go back to your previous behavior.

The four quadrants are:

  1. Internal individual – mindset
  2. External individual – behavior
  3. Internal collective – culture/support system
  4. External collective – laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

All four of these quadrants of change may sound like they could carry change all by themselves, but they can’t. So, be sure to implement your change in all four quadrants. Otherwise, it will all be in vain.

First Quadrant — Internal Individual

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of an individual, and it concerns itself with the mindset of a person.

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Our actions stem from our thoughts (most of the time), and if we change our mindset toward something, we will begin to process of changing the way we act.

People who use the law of attraction fall into this category, where they’ve recognized the strength of thoughts and how they make us change ourselves.

Even Lao Tzu had a great saying regarding this:

“Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character. Character is everything.” [1]

One of the most impactful ways you can make a change in this quadrant is to implement what James Clear calls identity-based habits. [2]

Instead of prioritizing the outcome of a change (ex.: I want to lose 20 pounds), you prioritize your identity as a person (I want to become/remain a healthy person).

Here are a couple of examples for you to see the strength of this kind of resolution:

I want to watch many movies = I am a cinema lover
I want to clean my apartment = I am a clean person
I want to harvest my crops = I am a harvester (farmer)
I want to swim = I am a swimmer

This quadrant is about changing the identity you attach to a certain action. Once you re-frame your thinking in this way, you will have completed the first of the quadrants of change.

Second Quadrant — External Individual

This quadrant focuses on the external world of an individual and concerns itself with the behavior of a person.

This is where people like Darren Hardy, the author of the Compound Effect reside. Hardy is about doing small, consistent actions that will create change in the long run (the compound effect).

You want to lose 30 pounds? Start by eating just 150 calories (approximately two slices of bread) less a day, and in two and a half years, you will have lost 30 pounds.

The same rules apply to business, investing, sports, and multiple other areas. Small, consistent actions can create big changes.

This works — I’ve read 20 extra pages a day for the past two years, and it accumulated into 90 books read in two years. [3]

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Here, you have two ways of dealing with change behaviorally: negative environmental design and positive environmental design.

Negative Environmental Design

This is when you eliminate the things from your environment that revert you to the old behavior. If you want to stop eating ice cream, you don’t keep it in your freezer.

If you want to stop watching TV, you remove the batteries from the remote and put them on the other side of the house (it works!).

Positive Environmental Design

This is when you put the things that you want to do withing reach — literally!

You want to learn how to play guitar? Put your guitar right next to your sofa. You want to head to the gym? Put the gym clothes in a backpack and put it on top of your shoes.

You want to read more books? Have a book on your nightstand, your kitchen table, and on the sofa.

You can even combine this last trick with my early advice about removing the batteries from your remote control, combining the negative and positive environmental designs for maximum effect.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

If you just change your behavior and leave your intentions (thoughts) intact, your discipline will fail you and the real change won’t happen.

You will simply revert back to the previous behavior because you haven’t changed the fundamental root of why this problem occurs in the first place.

That is why you need to create change both in the first quadrant (internal individual — mindset) and the second quadrant (external individual — behavior). These quadrants of change are two sides of the same coin.

Most change management would stop here, and that’s why most change management fails.

No matter how much you focus on yourself, there are things that affect our lives that are happening outside of us. That is the focus of the two remaining quadrants.

Third Quadrant — Internal Collective

This quadrant focuses on the internal world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the culture of that collective.

There are two different distinctions here: the Inner Ring and the Outer Ring.

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The Inner Ring

These are your friends and your family. The Inner Ring is the place where the social and cultural norms of your friends and family rule.

So, if everyone in your family is overweight and every lunch is 1,000 calories per person, then you can say goodbye to your idea of becoming healthy.

In this case, the culture of your group, the inner norms that guide the decisions, actions, thoughts, ideas, and patterns of behaviors are all focused on eating as much as possible. [4]

You need to have the support of your Inner Ring if you want to achieve change. If you don’t have this support, the the best way to proceed is by either changing your entire Inner Ring or distancing yourself from it.

Beware — most Inner Rings won’t accept the fact that you want to change and will undermine you on many occasions — some out of habit, some due to jealousy, and some because supporting you would mean that they have to change, too.

You don’t have to cut ties with people, but you can consciously decide to spend less time with them.

The Outer Ring

The Outer Ring consists of the culture of your company, community, county, region, and country. For example, it’s quite hard to be an open-minded person in North Nigeria, no matter how you, your friends, and your family think.

The Outer Ring is the reason why young people move to the places that share their value systems instead of staying in their current city, county, or country.

Sometimes, you need to change your Outer Ring as well because its culture is preventing you from changing.

I see this every single day in my country, where the culture can be so toxic that it doesn’t matter how great of a job you have or how great your life currently looks — the culture will change you, inch by inch, until you become like it.

Fourth Quadrant — External Collective

This quadrant focuses on the external world of the collective where the individual resides, and it concerns itself with the systems, teams, laws, and rules of that collective.

This quadrant is about the external manifestations of the collective culture. If the majority of the environment thinks in a certain way, they will create institutions that will implement that way of thinking.

The same rules apply to companies.

One example for companies would be those managers who think that employees are lazy, lack responsibility, and need constant supervision (or what is called Theory X in management).

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Then, those managers implement systems that reflect that kind of culture– no flexible work hours, strict rules about logging work, no remote work, etc.

Your thoughts, however, may be different. You might believe that people want responsibility, that they are capable of self-direction, that they can make good decisions, and that managers don’t need to stand on their necks if they want something done (this is called Theory Y in management).

Then, you would want to have flexible working hours, different ways of measuring your productivity (for example, not time on the job but work produced), and remote work, if possible for your profession.

This is when you enter into a conflict with the external collective quadrant. Here, you have four options: leave, persevere, neglect, and voice.

Leave

You can simply leave the company/organization/community/country and go to a different place. Most people decide to do this.

Persevere

This is when you see that the situation isn’t good, but you decide to stick at it and wait for the perfect time (or position) where you can implement change.

Neglect

This is where you give up on the change you want to see and just go with the flow, doing the minimal work necessary to keep the status quo.

These are the people who are disengaged at work and are doing just the bare minimum necessary (which, in the U.S. is around 65% of the workforce).

I did this only once, and it’s probably the only thing I regret doing in my life.

Voice

This is where you actively work on changing the situation, and the people in charge know that you want to create a change.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your company, community, or your country; you are actively calling for a change and will not stop until it’s implemented.

Putting It All Together

When you take it all into account, change is simple, in theory, but it isn’t easy to execute. It takes work in all four quadrants:

  1. Internal individual — mindset
  2. External individual — behavior
  3. Internal collective — culture/support system
  4. External collective — laws, rules, regulations, teams, systems, states

Some will require more work, some less, but you will need to create a change in all four of them.

But don’t let that discourage you because change is possible, and many people have done this. The best time to start changing was yesterday, but the second best time is today.

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Featured photo credit: Djim Loic via unsplash.com

Reference

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