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Published on April 16, 2020

Don’t Do What You Love, Instead Do This

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.

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 13, 2020

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success

If there was a rule book of life, there would be one particular page that was highlighted, underlined, and titled as most important. It would be the one which told you that you need to master effective goal setting and have an aim in mind before you get on with the process. Luckily, this goal setting guide is here to help.

Yes, goal setting is important. In fact, it’s more important than achieving the goal itself. This is because it is the sense of direction that is needed for you to fulfill any task in life.

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed if this sounds new to you because all the following information has you covered.

Today you’ll find out all about the importance of goal setting, types of goals, and tips to define realistic goals for yourself!

What Are Goals?

To kick off our goal setting guide, you need to first recognize what goals are and how they are different from objectives, dreams, and expectations.

A goal is basically your aim for the relatively long-term future. It is the bigger umbrella, the main focus.

Objectives, on the other hand, fall under the umbrella of goals. They are the stepping stones that help you achieve your goals[1].

Objects vs goals for goal setting

    Let’s say you want to learn a new foreign language. Your goal is to be fluent in the new language. Everything you do to achieve this goal, such as the daily tasks and learning aims, are the objectives.

    Similarly, your expectations, visions, and dreams are not your goals. If you wish to learn a new language someday, that is your dream. If you see yourself fluently speaking multiple foreign languages, that is your vision. If you think you’re capable of learning a new language, that is your expectation.

    However, if you aim to fulfill these visions, dreams, and expectations practically, that is your goal.

    Why Is Goal Setting Important?

    Why should you bother with goal setting at all? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just get on with your daily objectives, follow a dream or vision, and let life take you wherever?

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    Well, if that’s what you want to do in your life, go ahead, but if you actually want to tick off things from your list of goals to achieve, goal setting is necessary.

    Being committed to a goal puts your brain to work in one specific direction. Believe it or not, by having a defined goal, your brain does its magic unconsciously, 24/7, with full efficiency, to achieve the desired results[2].

    Goal setting is important to shift your focus, boost your motivation, and give you a sense of direction. Without formally defining a particular aim that you want to reach, you won’t be able to keep your objectives in line.

    Hence, this one tiny step can end up saving you a lot of hassle and time while also encouraging your productivity in the right regard.

    Types of Goals

    Before we move onto the technique of setting effective goals, we need to first take a look at all types of goals in this goal setting guide.

    These categories will not just help you brainstorm new one for yourself, but it will also guide you to list them down in the right way.

    Time-Based

    One of the two broad categories of goals is based on time. These goals define how far in the future you want to achieve them.

    Daily

    There are certain smaller goals that you can easily achieve in a day or two. In fact, some of these daily goals can be recurring, too. For example, you may want to run for an hour every morning.

    Now, these daily goals can also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. You may be running every day because, in the long-term, you want to increase your stamina.

    Daily goals are highly effective for people who want to improve their mental wellbeing, time management skills, and stress management.

    Short-Term

    Next in line are short-term goals. As you would have already guessed, these are aimed for the near future.

    The great thing about these is that they are generally easier to achieve. This is because short-term goals are set for the foreseeable future. You are aware of the circumstances and have an idea of how much the situation can change. That is unless, of course, something extremely unpredictable happens, the chances of which are quite slim.

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    Just like daily goals, short-term goals may also serve as objectives for a long-term goal. Your short-term goal may be to lose 5 pounds in one month. That could be a goal in itself, or maybe it is just one objective to fulfill your goal to adopt a healthy lifestyle in the next two years.

    Another example of a short-term goal is to fulfill the checklist for promotion within the next 6 months. Or, you may want to reduce your screen time within the coming week.

    Long-Term

    Lastly, we have long-term goals that are meant to be completed over a stretched period.

    Whatever you want to achieve in a later stage of life is a long-term goal. An insurance plan, for example, is a long-term goal.

    Some long-term goals don’t have any time frame at all. They are goals that you want to accomplish at some point in your life. So, something like traveling the whole world is a lifelong goal with no specific time constraint at all.

    There’s one thing about long-term goals that isn’t great.

    They are the hardest to keep up with since you’re not seeing any huge achievements regularly. This may take a toll on your motivation. To tackle this problem, it is best to divide a long-term goal into various short-term and daily objectives so that you’re always tracking the progress you’re making.

    Life-Based

    Moving forward, you can also start goal setting based on the results you want to achieve instead of the time period.

    Career

    Like all humans, you will always want to succeed and excel in your career. No one wants to stay where they are forever.

    Anything that has to do with this intention, regardless of the time frame, is a career goal.

    You can learn more about how to set successful career goals here.

    Personal

    The past few years have all been about emphasizing your personal health. So, when it comes to goals, how can we forget the ones that have to do with our personal gains?

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    From health to finances to relationships, everything that brings you happiness and composure as a person is a personal goal.

    Whether you want to get rid of your debt, quit smoking, start a side hustle, get married, or have children, all these goals are personal and very important to have on your list.

    How to Set Goals

    The best way to guarantee the fulfillment of goals is to set them the right way.

    SMART Goals

    Every goal you define has to be smart[3]. No, we don’t mean the adjective. We’re referring to the acronym here.

    SMART stands for:

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Attainable
    • Relevant
    • Time-Bound

    In summary, your specific goals should be very well defined. They shouldn’t be generic or broad, and every detail should be clarified. 

    If you want to start running, how often do you want to do it? How long will each session be? For how long will you continue this habit?

    There has to be a connection between your goals and beliefs or you’ll never be able to achieve the results you want. Most importantly, do not be unrealistic. You cannot learn to fly, and forcing yourself to try is only going to demotivate and stress you out.

    Some Rules

    Whenever you’re working your way through this goal setting guide, keep a few things in mind.

    First and foremost, prioritize your goals. Things that you want to achieve the quickest should be worked on first.

    Don’t act in a way that is self-centered. There are people around you who will be affected by the things you do. Keep them in mind when defining goals.

    Lastly, do not let yourself forget the bigger picture. Whether it is the long-term result or the connection of the goal with your desire, keep it in mind to keep yourself from getting distracted.

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    I also recommend you to watch this video to learn 7 strategies to set goals effectively:

    How to Reach Your Goals

    You can ensure your progress by following some foolproof tactics. The use of relevant helpful tools can also keep you on the right track.

    Tactics

    One rookie mistake that most people make is that they work on too many goals simultaneously. Create an action plan and focus on one thing at a time.

    Divide your goal into smaller, easily achievable tasks. Taking it one step at a time makes it way easier. However, do not break them down too much. For example, for long-term goals, you should go for weekly checkpoints instead of daily ones.

    Also, keep track of your progress. This will keep you motivated to work harder.

    Tools

    With so many categories of goals and so many aims, it is almost impossible to remember, let alone work, on all of them.

    Luckily, numerous goal tracker apps will help you keep track of your goals, as well as your plan to achieve every single one. Have at least one installed in your smartphone so that your plan is always within reach.

    Bottom Line

    In conclusion, using a goal setting guide is not rocket science. All that it takes is strong will power along with all the knowledge that you’ve learned so far.

    Try out the tactics and tips mentioned above to be able to set successful goals so that you can achieve the life that you want!

    More Tips on Achieving Success

    Featured photo credit: Danielle MacInnes via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Smart Insights: The difference between marketing objectives and marketing goals?
    [2] Confluence: Goal Setting Theory
    [3] University of California: SMART Goals: A How-To Guide

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