There’s a lot of advice going around online these days telling people to do what you love, follow your childhood passions, and live happily ever after.
I don’t agree with it.
I’ve been there, I’ve seen others, and it doesn’t work.
You may be passionate about basketball, but the chances of you making it to the NBA are very slim. You may love traveling, but no one is going to pay you a dime for discovering the Wall of China.
Now this isn’t a post to discourage you from following your passions to become a doctor or a lawyer. Far from it.
I write this because I’ve learned the difference between following a dead-end passion vs. following the passions that will bring success in your life.
Your mission is to narrow down the many passions you have in life to the latter category.
Love what you do.
Here’s the truth: you should love what you do. Not do what you love.
The difference between the two is that the latter is often unrealistic, not in demand and comprised of decisions made with emotions.
To distil it down even further, loving what you do means that you’ve developed an expertise that is in demand, where people are willing to pay for what you do.
By the way, I’m not saying being paid $15–20/hour. Loving what you do means being compensated for your expertise, and demanding 10 and even 100 times that amount.
Beyond the obvious reason of why it’s important to be paid to follow your passion, is that it allows you to sustain your message.
Sustaining your message is everything when it comes to loving what you do. It takes at least three, and most often five years to gain recognition and mastery in your industry. Without a doubt, unexpected obstacles will come your way, and sometimes pure passion isn’t enough to sustain it.
By being paid for your work, you not only allow clients to value your work more, but it gives you room to make mistakes, time to master your passion, and develop a solid portfolio of testimonials and clients.
Passion, Expertise, Money.
There are three simple laws to follow in order to love what you do.
Law #1: You better be passionate about it.
Law #2: You need to be an expert at it (which leads to…).
Law #3: You are paid exceptionally for it.
People who do what they love often choose to stay in a career path that fits only two of these laws.
For example, if you fit into:
Laws 1 & 2 — no one cares.
Laws 2 & 3 — life sucks.
Laws 1 & 3 — you’re broke (for now).
Now the most frequent question people ask is: How do I know what I’m passionate about? The method that has worked best for me is to take out a pen and a blank piece of paper. Then think about the topics and activities you enjoy doing for fun in your spare time.
By following your efforts and thinking back on the activities you have already been doing, it’s easier to identify what your passions are.
From passion to $$.
So you have your list of passions down. But how do you know which of the passions people will pay for?
It could be coaching, a product you’ve created, a service you want to provide, etc. Lucky for you, this part is straightforward. It just requires a bit of research.
Let’s break it down.
1. See if there’s a rising demand for your topic.
You can easily check this by going to Google Trends.
For example, I’m particularly passionate about digital marketing, and I want to check if there is a growing demand for the industry.
Here’s what I get when I type in “digital marketing” in Google Trends.
Google Trends will even give you a forecast demand for the next two years on your keyword. This result proves that there’s a rising demand of people around the world that are interested in digital marketing.
2. Check who’s hiring.
The next step you want to take is to check if anyone’s hiring in your industry. For this, I would use aggregator job listings like Indeed or Craigslist. That gives a good idea of the type of positions that exist in the industry, salary levels, job type (full-time, part-time, contract, etc.), and which locations have the most demand for the industry.
Each of these pieces of information are key because it gives you an immediate overview on the market and where you should start looking.
3. What if your passion(s) are more specific or niche?
This is another common question people ask. First, I must warn you that being too specific is not the goal here. What we’re looking for is an overview demand of the market you’re about to enter.
However, if your topic is more niche than digital marketing, then I recommend checking out SkilledUp, which is an aggregator of online courses such as Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera, etc.
Most people get disappointed when they see dozens of products/courses already online in their topic. But this is actually a positive signal!
It means that there is a proven demand in the market, your next step is to dig deep in understanding what the strengths and weaknesses for each of these are.
This is where reviews and ratings come in.
You should be finding out from your competitor’s audience what they liked and didn’t like about the product/service. Now you can deliver on the complaints these individuals faced, while incorporating the positive reviews mentioned.
Your goal from here is to find your first three clients that are willing to pay for what you’re doing.
You need to start somewhere.
Realistically, it takes several years of searching and exploring for someone to arrive at all three laws.
This is why you need to start with something that covers at least two laws.
I’ve found that starting with something you’re passionate about (#1) that people will pay you for (#3) works best. Because you’re not an expert yet, chances are that you won’t be paid a lot of money for it.
However, being paid to do what you love will allow you to sustain your path. If you are truly passionate about it, then you’ll be spending 14 hours a day crafting, experimenting, and improving the skills that will eventually make you a master at it.
Look at the long-term goal for your vision, and don’t be discouraged by the lack of pay or progress you will inevitably experience initially.
If you truly love what you do, the destination — whether that’s recognition, fame, wealth — becomes the cherry on top of your journey to a fulfilling life.
Following your passion needs to stop being associated with starving artist or the entrepreneur living in the basement.
Love what you do, make your millions, and change the millions of lives around you.