Follow Your Passion? Not So Fast…

 

I’ve written quite a lot on this blog over the years encouraging you to follow you passion. And today I’m going to tell you to think twice, because I no longer believe “follow your passion” to be such sturdy advice.

I have Cal Newport to thank for changing my mind. Last week I read his new book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, and it promptly rocked my world. While the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss has inspired a ton of people not to settle for the default career path, Newport’s book provides the reality check Ferriss fans desperately need to ensure we don’t do anything too drastic.

Summarizing below my big takeaways from So Good They Can’t Ignore You…

Why you should think twice about following your passion

In short, because working right trumps finding the right work. Newport provides plenty of examples and cites numerous studies to help back this up.

One such example is Thomas, a one-time typical wage slave who escaped to a monastery in the mountains to study zen meditation. Thomas soon found though that the reality of being a Buddhist monk didn’t quite match up to his dream of being one, and so he eventually returned to his banking career and began taking the work more seriously. Within two years he’d been promoted several times. As Newport writes in the book…

His work is challenging, but Thomas enjoys the challenge. It also provides him with a sense of respect, impact, and autonomy–exactly the kind of rare and valuable traits… that are needed for creating work you love. Thomas acquired these traits not by matching his work to his passion, but instead by doing his work well and then strategically cashing in the capital it generated.

The lesson here is that most people have it backwards. We tend to believe that we should first find work that we love and then become really good at it. The reality though is that most people who love their work don’t start off loving it. It’s only when they become really good at what they do that they earn the respect of their peers, gain more control over their careers, and feel like they’re making a positive impact in the world.

That’s not to say you should stick with a job you hate instead of quitting to pursue work you’re more likely to enjoy. Life’s too short for that, but don’t get caught dreaming of some perfect career that will come to you out of the blue. That’s never going to happen.

Beware the courage culture

There are plenty of voices online nowadays — and I used to be among them — telling you that the only thing standing between you and the life of your dreams is fear. All you need to do is overcome that fear, and then you’re golden.

Newport writes that while this “courage culture” is usually well-intentioned, it’s also dangerous. Many people end up mustering their courage and taking the leap into a new career, only to find that courage alone doesn’t keep the lights on.

I took the leap two years ago, and I’m making it work. But most of my “success” so far has come down to a skill I’d already spent years developing before taking the leap, that being web design. I earned $5k last month, and the vast majority of it came via freelancing. Not via passive income, not from people paying me to write on my blog, and not in exchange for some magical digital product. It mostly came down to hours of hard work in front of the computer, providing real value to a handful of clients.

So how do you know if you’re really ready to take the leap (and not just drunk on courage)? Newport advises taking the plunge only if you have good reason to believe that people will pay for the skills you already possess. And this you can test without burning any bridges, such as by freelancing on the side while you continue working at your regular job.

The importance of deliberate practice

But what if you don’t have any such skills in the first place? Well then you need to put your dreams on hold and get to work. And you need to work hard, continually stretching yourself and leaning into the discomfort, not just giving up or taking a break when the going gets tough.

This kind of work is called deliberate practice, and it’s what separates the winners from the wannabes.

Unfortunately, we all have this innate resistance to doing that which is difficult. I suspect many folks are drawn to books like the 4-Hour Workweek precisely because they want maximum reward with minimum effort, just like the title promises. Well, sorry, but if you really believe the world works that way, you’re pretty much doomed.

Unless you’re exceptionally smart or lucky, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever achieve a 4-hour workweek without putting in years of blood, sweat and tears up front. I know I’ve worked harder than ever since I quit my job. The hours are longer and the rewards are more uncertain. I’ve had to face some hard truths and change directions several times. And I’m still nowhere near getting away with working just four hours a week.

At the same time, I see myself as one of the lucky ones, because I tend to enjoy doing things that are difficult and I already had some career capital to fall back on in case my initial plans fell flat (which they did).

So if you don’t already have some killer skills to your name, you’d better fall in love with deliberate practice. Commit to becoming really good at something. If you know exactly what kind of work you want to do, then focus all your energy on building the skills necessary to succeed in that field.

If you’re not sure what kind of work you want to do, then get busy building general skills that will give you a leg up in many different fields. Work on your social skills, become a competent writer, learn how to deliver an effective speech, that kind of stuff. At the same time, work your ass off at whatever job you pick up to make ends meet. Don’t just be a bartender; be the best damn bartender in town. More doors open up once you become so good they can’t ignore you.

Living the dream ain’t easy

Let’s look at a couple of examples of people who are living what many would consider dream lifestyles.

First, there’s Wandering Earl. Earl’s a travel blogger who’s regularly treated to all-expenses-paid trips from travel companies, gets gifted travel gear from the likes of XShot, and has just started leading his own tours. Essentially, the man is getting paid to travel the world. Sounds pretty cool, right?

But Earl didn’t achieve such a lifestyle overnight. He hit the road thirteen years ago, and has put in lots of time working less-than-ideal jobs and vagabonding on a shoestring budget. When I first met him in Romania earlier this year, he was spending most of his days holed up in an apartment writing a comprehensive guide about living a life of travel.

Then there’s Benny Lewis. Benny loves learning languages and moves to a different country every few months to add a new one to his repertoire. He makes good money teaching other people how to effectively achieve conversational fluency in a foreign language. Again, sounds pretty dreamy, right?

But just like Earl, it’s taken Benny a while to get there. He’s been on the road for almost a decade, and spent many years working odd jobs in hostels and the like before he started making a living through his language hacking skills. And methinks it’s tough to find a better example of a guy who regularly engages in deliberate practice, constantly pushing through mental discomfort to master foreign tongues. His work certainly ain’t easy.

The lesson I take from both of these guys is that the dream job never comes first. No matter how passionate you are about something, you’re going to have to spend significant time building real skills and learning how to deliver real value before you can make a living doing work you love.

When to follow your passion

Newport argues in his book that “follow your passion” is bad advice. I wouldn’t quite go that far. The way I see it, following your passion is all well and good so long as you accept what’s usually involved in such a pursuit (i.e. an incredible amount of patience and hard work). Don’t take the leap and expect to land on your feet within a year or two. Ask yourself if you’d be willing and able to endure at least five years of constant struggle before breaking through. If the answer is yes, then by all means go for it.

Otherwise, the smart play is to stick with your 9-to-5. Get busy mastering your skills in that environment, and then, as Newport advises, strategically cash in the capital you inevitably generate.

P.S. I’m giving away three copies of Newport’s book. Just tweet this post or share it on Facebook to be in with a chance to win. Also leave a comment to let me know you shared and so I’ll be able to contact you by email.

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51 Comments

  1. Hey Niall,

    I read Cal’s book recently too and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also regularly check his blog. He certainly does his research and I like the way he always tests his theories.

    I feel as we get clearer about what interests us and what is aligned with our values our focus goes more and more to that and it opens doors for us.

    The cruise ship looks very nice! Have FUN!! :)

  2. This is my favorite post to date. I followed my passion into a “dream career” and then had to walk away from it before it killed me. “Happiness” wasn’t what I’d thought it would be when I was in my early 20s, and I’ve found “courage” and “passion” to be the buzzwords of people who are chasing something that is probably right in front of them.

    Anyone who thinks Ferris works 4 hours a week is kidding him- or herself.

  3. As a fellow web designer/entrepreneur and crazy guy overall. I fully agree with your view on this one Niall.

    For one, I’m part of that courage culture too, and I’m well aware of the problems it can bring (as I’m one of those that jumped into the abyss without really knowing).

    I left my job a year ago, and yes I’m doing ok now, freelancing and developing my skills. All within a year, but it was because I’m lucky to have the skills I need to find work. I jumped blindly and this is not something I would advise to anyone.

    It’s easy to buy in the idea of getting rich quick here in the internet, but the reality is very different, there is no overnight success and there is no minimum effort. Most of those who have kept a blog for over a year know that there is blood, sweat and tears in every post.

    It’s not a straight line into success and passive income. It’s a hard battle one that can keep you up at night thinking how the hell you got into it.

    Would I change what I did? Not really, but I would not advise anyone to follow my steps, I was lucky, but it’s like playing Russian roulette with 5 bullets in the revolver.

    Hopefully a lot of people will understand this and build their skills years before they even try to make the jump, because we all want to see people succeeding and not crashing and burning. But to see that we need to eradicate the idea “rich over night” idea, one word filled with blood, sweat and tears at a time.

    Thanks for the wonderful post Niall. :)

  4. This post really resonated with me as I have come to realise my passion is actually ‘being good’ at something rather than the ‘something’. The old saying ‘ theres no free lunch’ is still true. I love Cal Newports site Study Hacks – hes one smart guy. Thanks for letting me know about his new book – I shall look it up now.

  5. It’s been tweeted.

    You said something that resonated with me; there are plenty of voices online nowadays. Personally, I think there’s far too many people “teaching” and not enough people actually doing.

    All my major achievements life NEVER came easy. All took hours and hours of work. Sometimes the work is fun, in my case, with boxing. But sometimes, it’s monotonous and boring (at times, boxing).

    But books like the four-hour work week sell to those looking for an easier way. Nothing the matter with this, but four hours is selling yourself short. Sometimes a job is interesting and fun and I want to do it. I don’t want to work four hours!

    I used to work two months and then would be off two or three weeks. After three or four days, I was bored stiff. I wanted to do my job (it was enjoyable).

    You’ve done a good job with this site and if there were one thing I would tell you it is this: there’s a fine line between telling people how to live or being preachy and helping people find their own way.

  6. Nothing worth having is ever easy, right?

    But the problem is, things that are not worth having are never easy either. :/

    When you think about it, this “courage culture” promotes mindless living. Don’t plan for it, don’t analyse, just jump.

    The balance of mindful pursuit of one’s interests is a hard sell, hence less books are about the common sense advice and more about “hard nosed” ones.

    Thanks for this post Niall. This will serve as a good reference post for people who “want to do what they love” at the cost of pretty much EVERYTHING else.
    Peace and Rock the cruises!! :)

  7. And another post I totally agree with. Even if I have followed my passion and I am doing my dream job and leading my dreamed life, I consider myself lucky. I am pretty much location independent and doing the job of my life, yes, but things are not easy. I have been trough months very the income was so little that my savings were dramatically reduced and even now, I find myself working very late hours to keep the income coming so that I can continue enjoying that nice sounding location independent idea a reality.
    Still I am lucky, that’s why I am really careful not to advice or encourage others to pursue this “dreamt” way of life, it’s not easy and it certainly requires a lot of time and effort.

  8. Totally shared this on Twitter and FB…. I don’t think we hear enough about the work people put into their dream lives…. It would be so great to have a real reality check. Sometimes it can seem that what people love to do and what they get paid to do comes so easily to them – so why doesn’t it come easily to me? We rarely see all the hard work that goes into it, and get discouraged. I’m in need of this reminder….

  9. Hey Niall,
    I am happy you wrote this post. This is the post that more people need to see. You can make a path towards a life that you want but you need to pave it with skills, qualities that people will pay you for.

    Thanks for giving examples of those other nomads who had to work those side jobs. The back story of them doing hard work helps me know that it is possible only with hard work.

    Great post

  10. this post makes me think about how ideas flow through a culture..there is a big hype about something, everytbody gets enthusiastic about it and then a “counter-idea” comes in and soothes things.. is like in the philosophy of hegel, ideas go through an endless cycle of thesis-antithesis..i see self-development movement becoming more skeptical about all the ideas that were taken for granted (follow your dreams, dare to leap into the unknown, etc)..malcolm gladwell with books like “outliers” does the same thing, he tries to contradict the idea of man fighting against all odds and finally triumphing in life because of his courage, determination and perseverence..i totally reasonate with this new trend ideologically but it lacks the “seduction factor” which all of us need in order to make big decisions and big leaps in life :)

  11. Brilliant ! Absolutely brilliant !
    I’ve spent an awful lot of time wondering how I could possibly “make it” following my passion.
    I want to be a writer and many other things but I just couldn’t see a way to take the leap and still be able to feed myself. I’ve been agonizing over going back to a J-O-B and work on my project on the side but it felt like a betrayal of the 4HWW credo of faith and courage.
    Now I know that I can, and indeed should, find a job that I am good at and engage in deliberate practice.
    Gosh, that feels good.
    I tweeted, and would love to read that book.
    Thank you very much Niall, you rock as usual.

  12. Hi Niall,

    Thanks for the recommendation, just bookmarked it for next read.

    I don’t know if you have read The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco but this book is a must read. Don’t let the title fool you that the book is written by another so called guru. It’s a BIG eye opener!

  13. From one of your ancient followers I have to agree with you and earlier comments (Alejandro).

    My biggest success in my own business before the Internet came after 20 years accumulation of business skills, seeing an opportunity, then leveraging my skills to make a lot of money, see a lot of strange places and have a good mix of great fun and pure terror.

    Politics and a couple of minor wars in Africa sunk that business and left me bankrupt.

    I was able to combine skills and opportunity again in another country and really have a good life for 9 years before politics and violence took all that and almost my life away.

    As an almost refugee in Canada, I was forced to take a job to pay the bills, until a heart attack stopped that.

    Seduced by the courage culture and “instant success” promises on the Internet, I thought at last I would be able to follow my passion of writing and earn a good living on-line.

    Two years later, I have had to do many odd jobs and freelance work to survive and am looking at an uncertain future, but not unduly worried about it.

    The point of this old farts long story, is that my big successes came from that capital of accumulated skills, not from taking the plunge to follow a passion.

    I tweeted your post @zimpeterw and would be eternally grateful for a copy of the book.

  14. Great and important post. The good thing about out passions is that we are willing to invest some serious time and effort into it. So if you can combine your passion with your career this can give you the extra drive that you need to push you outside of your comfort zone. And that can help you to succeed, of course.
    However, passion itself is not enough. We all know people who are passionate about something and not very successful with it.

    And even if you live your passion, you still need to sell it. Selling is something many people are NOT passionate about. So there you are doing things you’re not passionate out again.

    I do believe that most of us have ingrained talents and passions from which we easily could make money (if we got good enough at them). However, most of the time, it will just take a some time (years, decades) to get to the point where we can a substantial amount of money with them. There’s just so much to learn!

    I’ve been producing since 10 years and I’m still starting out.

      • @Kendal: I’m an artist, too (musician, actress, writer), so I know what you’re talking about.

        The problem that a lot of artists have is that they wait for someone to “save” them – like an A&R agent who would offer them a record deal or that one big sponsor or a book publishing house.

        What they don’t see is that the art business is still a business – and that they have to actively sell something if they want to stay in business (or get into it in the first place).

        The good news is that selling your work can be very rewarding – not only from the money perspective. It just feels incredible good if you see that people appreciate (the quality of) your work.

        • Yeah, that’s part of the reason I’m going into music now, because at least I can create something that I can promote and sell. As an actress, you just have yourself and what you do… no physical product. Unless you also want to become a producer. Which I don’t, really, though I made one short film (which won’t make any money. lol) and am going to make a web series. But to do these things I need to take on roles that I have no experience doing, which will probably affect my product…. I want to sell my acting, not my writing skills or producing skills…. other people work for years to become good at those things, and they should be doing it, not me!

  15. Niall … one of the best posts to date! (Although all of them are great)

    Nice reality check on the “culture of courage”.

    One can have the “courage” (and even the faith) to walk on water … but there’s a nearly 100% chance you’ll drown.

    Good stuff and thanks again for the post!

  16. Fantastic reality check, Niall. I just ended two months of the “rewards” of following my passion – traveling through the U.S. and then Europe, facilitating unconferences with hundreds of people talking about their passions, their relationships, helping them out.

    During that time I went through so much personally disastrous relationship drama it could have been a sketch comedy. My kids back in Madison were also having troubles and I was not in a position to help them. I missed my youngest grandson’s first birthday. And I had my own health issues, but because I’m a freelancer living under the great American Healthcare System, there wasn’t much to do but take some ibuprofen and hope it got better.

    Thing is, I asked for this life. I worked hard to get it. And the rewards are even better than I (or Tim Ferriss or even you) ever suggested. But the price is higher, too – and that’s something that I believe gets glossed over. That’s why 1/3 of my blog is devoted to the idea of practice – deliberate, focused, and absolutely worthwhile in and of itself.

    I cheered when you got the Costa Cruise – and I continue to cheer, because it’s posts like this that make you deserving of this kind of life. Well done, sir!

  17. Great post, just left a comment on facebook..as a coach who jumped in to this following your passion and then helping others to do the same I think this reminder is wise beyond words…have had a big problem with all the guru wisdom in my area despite some great nuggets because its the working right approach that often develops the passion not the constant search…even if the search reveals a destination the magic still has to come from within…thanks great post!

  18. I very much agree.
    For myself, being able to do what I am good at (languages) frees me to do other things I love – win win.
    And I think we should be passing this on to teens, too. My youngest daughter is in a 3-yr seamstress apprenticeship (vocational training is more common in Switzerland than further education or academic grades). She doesn’t really love it. It’s hard, painstaking work. The bosses aren’t always nice and don’t always give you a pat on the head. They don’t have the foresight to show the youngsters how important and rare the skills are that they’re learning at this level.
    But when they have done their 3 years, they will have great skills they can use to work for others, work for themselves, take themselves anywhere in the world and/or make those skills sing… I think the kids will grow to love their work if they’re lucky and someone helps to point it out (or they get smart!). If not, they will always consider themselves low-paid victims with a hard grind and a menial job…
    It’s the attitudes that we need to show the youngsters!!

  19. Hi Niall,

    Today I was thinking about this and whatddya know, you wrote about it! As a writer with a lot of aspiring artist and entreprenuerial friends, I’ve come to realize that there has to be a balance between ‘doing what you love’ and being ‘really damn good and making money with what you love.’ We live in a world of instant gratification and nobody likes to highlight the art of practice.

    Living a passionate life doesn’t mean you are living on an island somewhere. It means living true to your heart and values and it reflects in your work and words.

  20. Highly relevant. Although I truly believe that everyone should be able to feel passionate about their work, I was always uncomfortable with the “follow your passion and everything will work out in the end” advice. Great post Niall.

    Shared it on FB :) I know a lot of people that would benefit from this.

  21. Hi Niall,

    thank you for your entry and bringing this book to consideration.

    These ideas being gathered together in a book makes them more likely to be understood by the target audience.

    Because the problem is that people who got involved in positive thinking and lifestyle design just do ignore such viewpoints as they find them hindering to achieve their target and just don’t listen to them (like they don’t listen to those who don’t believe in their success).

    Really I am glad that you and other people of “courage culture” get to know these alternatives.

    Good luck in your investigations!

  22. Ha! Niall, I had already posted this on Facebook, left it in a Facebook comment for a friend talking about jobs and passion, and emailed it to 2 people before I got to the end saying you’re giving away copies of the book. About to tweet as well :P

    I have just completed a master’s degree in the field I was passionate about for at least the past decade. Heck, I’m still passionate about it, but the traditional jobs associated with it are becoming fewer and harder to get. These days I’m thinking I don’t need to be in that field to be happy, and at least the skills I learned for the degree are transferable!

  23. I think this is one of your most mature posts so far, Niall, both in its subject matter, reflectiveness and strength of writing. (I hope you don’t take that as an insult — you’ve been growing over time with each post, and it shows).

    As we grow older, life becomes less about following our passions and more about growing in place. What we value changes over time and life becomes more an act of cultivating what we know rather than pursuing endless new avenues.

  24. Tweeted it. It’s funny, I was feeling bad about myself for not gathering the courage to jump right in and make my dream career happen, and guilty for keeping my day job (er, night job), trading my time for money in a not very efficient way, as all the online entrepreneurs say. But whatever. There’s nothing wrong with my night job. And to become really good at it, I’ll have to overcome my social anxiety disorder. Win-win.

  25. i like the comparison to the 4 hour work week, it’s nice reading a book like either of these with the ideas raised in the other to balance it all out… I could almost start my own blog with all the thoughts I have on the stuff you mentioned this post but perhaps the short of it is that we all need to work to varying degrees to get what we want, there is no formula that fits the world so find your own. Find what you want to do and just do it. I don’t share on facebook much but you made the cut (well, you’re offering a free book… :)
    nice one.

  26. I’m glad you wrote that post, Niall. For the last few months, I’ve been in a sort of limbo as to where and what I want to do with my life. The 4 hour work week definitely stirred a few thoughts (and led me to your blog) and I have a feeling that your recommendation of Newport’s book is just what I need to get my shit sorted. I’ve shared it on facebook.

  27. Agree with much of this post. I’ve read Cal’s work prior and it was great to hear him speak at WDS 2012, because so many of us do get caught up in the shiny “do what makes you SING in life!” refrain, but oftentimes that thing, whatever it might be, is not a longtail, sustainable choice. Sure, there are outliers who can make it work, but it’s not as easy as people make it out to be. In my case, I started travelling for fun and it turned into a career; along the way I realized I had more passion for this than I thought. What started as an interest turned into a platform for education about food and history, but it was not what I set out to do. That said, I’m pretty damn thankful I fell into it – it’s more fun thank lawyering, even if I’m still putting in extremely long hours :)

    Cal’s “do what you find interesting, get good at it, then leverage that for your own life priorities” is a welcome message and one I think many can use as a blueprint for their own success. I don’t think it detracts from the enthusiasm of doing what you love in life, but it is a more realistic plan than a blind “follow your passion and it’ll all work out.” The latter may be the case in the end, but it often does take that hard work and real dedication that people seem to skip over when discussion passion and life choices. Agree with your ascertainment that somewhere in the middle lies a great place for many of us to begin.

    Hope you’ve been well yourself!

  28. Hi Niall,

    Excellent and thought-provoking post, as usual!

    That said, I think a major piece of the puzzle is missing here: talent, and by that I mean, innate talent. It’s not just a question of sticking with a job you might like or taking the leap for something you might like. It’s about finding something that matches your inborn skill set. The fact is, I could decide that my life dream is to become a concert pianist and I could quit my job and spend 10,000 hours and I still wouldn’t become a successful concert pianist. Why? Because I have no inborn musical talent! I suck at music. I have no sense of rhythm. I’m like Steve Martin in The Jerk. But, there are musical geniuses out there who are born with an incredible sense for music and the hands to express that and some of them might be able to become successful concert pianists in half that time.

    I taught English briefly in Asia and I saw the differences in inborn language skills and how they affected people’s ability to make progress with English. Some people had a great ear and mind for languages and they progressed rapidly up the ladder. Others could never get beyond a few simple pleasantries no matter how hard they tried. If some of the former had told me they wanted to become interpreters, I’d have said, “Go for it.” If some of the latter had, I would have politely steered them in another direction (“Don’t quit your day job.”).

    So, for all those peddling courage and “taking the leap,” I’d say it’s irresponsible to do so without first counseling people to take a reasonable stock their natural talents.

    As for Mr. Ferriss’s Four-Hour Work Week, I agree with you: As much as I find him interesting, I find the message irresponsible. First off, there’s no way Mr. Ferriss worked only four hours a week when he was getting his first online business working. But. more importantly, there are precious few jobs or businesses that will allow you a comfortable living with that input of time, especially when starting out (unless, perhaps, we are talking about extremely attractive high-class hookers with simple material tastes). And, to be honest, the business model that Mr. Ferriss pushes in his book is largely parasitic: it focuses on making money by selling an existing product. There’s not much value added and I don’t know how someone could feel a deep sense of existential satisfaction by merely marketing some existing product. Certainly, there would be none of the sense of satisfaction that comes from perfecting a skill.

  29. A small addendum to my post: The mismatch between one’s aspirations and one’s situation, or between one’s aspirations and one’s abilities is one of the greatest causes of misery on this planet. The wide access to university education contributes to the notion that anyone and everyone can and should have a high-paid white collar job. Sadly, this is not the case. I think the model in Germany, where some people receive vocational education instead of a higher academic education is a good one.

    Of course we all want to be writers, or sports stars, or actors, or just independently wealthy and travelling the world, but is this realistic for most people? No. And the self-help/motivational speaking/4HWW/free-your-inner-giant/location-independent industry is largely responsible for fostering the idea that anyone can do anything regardless of talent. The sad fact is that many people have few outstanding talents, and even fewer marketable ones, and are suitable for little more than unskilled labor. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World covers the topics I’m touching on here in some detail.

  30. I’ve tweeted this post out;

    Truth be told, I was a little alarmed by the title when I saw it. However, after reading the post, I can agree with it.

    I know this myself than generally speaking, a ‘ 4 hour work week ‘ is in reality, nothing more than a fantasy for people. Like you said, titles like that are kind of dangerous as it gives people the impression there is an easy way through things. The reality is, no said it would be easy.

    I’ve no idea what my true passion is yet and as such, no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. It’s actually one of the reasons I want to travel; to discover myself and maybe find my passions in the process. I feel I need to take a ‘ big leap ‘ in order to get to know myself better as I’m not going to achieve it staying put.

    Courage has it’s place in my life but I also need to remember when to ground myself into reality as well.

  31. Great post Niall.
    When I read it, it really resonated with my current experience and I thought it was uncannily timely that you posted about the subject. I immediately shared it with my partner who found it resonated with her experience as well in many aspects. You definitely touched on something important, and from reading all the comments, one can see that it resonates with many people here. So nice one!

    The “follow your passion and it will all work out” discourse can be indeed be a dangerous one. I think that it’s half the fault of the voices pushing for people to quit their day job and take the plunge and half the fault of people who are (consciously or not) more receptive to this idea of the “dream job/life” than to the details of what actually needs to be done to get it (the small prints which get easily overlooked).

    And the ton of work required to make it work is not only for 6 month or a year. The efforts have to be long term and that is a key point of your post. That’s the most important point for me. You said “Don’t take the leap and expect to land on your feet within a year or two. Ask yourself if you’d be willing and able to endure at least five years of constant struggle before breaking through.”

    I’m struggling at the moment with keeping the momentum to continue learning new skills and building up experience. I know, and I knew when I started, that I have to accept sucking at these new skills for some time before I can become good at it. I did make some progress of course but after a year or so, some days it is tough to still suck and the thought of giving up creeps up. Your post and the question of whether I’m ready to endure 5 years (or more) of struggle is a timely reminder that a year is not much in the grand scheme of things. So thank you.

    Hope you’ll enjoy Thailand.

  32. Hello Niall

    I’m tweeting! Chuck me in for that free book please (Newport’s). This sounds like it’s just what I need. Much peace :)