Following Your Passion: I Call Bullshit

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I know this is a controversial statement I just made because we are taught to be encouraging + find our passion to be happy. BUT, hear me out before you tar + feather me over this. There are all these cliches about passion; lack of passion is fatal, follow your passion, do what you love + you’ll never work a day in your life, etc. I’m not disputing these are not true but research has proven that passion alone does not make you happy {or make you money}. I think that when we are chasing the "follow your passion" dream what we really are looking for is happiness + fulfillment. I’m very passionate about looking through the dollar bins at Target for their cute pens {which, everyone seems to be snatching these days} but that’s not providing me an income + most of the time not really making me happy, just frustrated when I can't find them.

I’m proposing a new way of thinking about passion + happiness: do what you excel at.

Creative Live has a class called The Power of Happiness by Vanessa Van Edwards of The Science of People were she discusses that people are happy when they are doing things they are good at not necessarily passionate about. Her company has combed through hundreds of scientific studies to determine what makes people happy + the research shows that happiness is based on capabilities, not passion. We kinda have it backwards. We work hard on getting good at what we are passionate about when really we should be getting passionate about what we are good at. As entrepreneurs we all have passions that fuel what + why we do the work we do but those don’t always make us money. Rather we need to build our empire based on our capabilities + the capabilities of those around us to succeed. I’m great at curating ideas + seeing the big picture and I’m good with small minute details like numbers but I don’t like getting bogged down with all the middle stuff - that is not in my skills toolbox. I’m a research girl. Love me some research! All those trends + facts {the details} that appear from surveys + focus groups that drive successful strategies {the big picture}, which is why this research on happiness intrigues me so.

In undergrad I took the required accounting classes + at the end of every semester when my professor handed out my A, she would always say to me, ‘You should change your major to accounting, you’re so good at it.’ {I was a marketing major}. To which I would reply, ‘just because I’m good at it doesn’t mean I love it.’ At the time all I knew was to follow my passion. But I really did love the numbers because I was good at it + being good at something made me happy when I got the A. It wasn’t until after college in my second real job in life that I discovered I could bridge the gap between my capability for numbers + my passion for the creative.

Marry your capability to your passion + happiness will ensue.

Actually, I stumbled into marketing research. I was in an insurance sales job that I hated + desperate for a marketing job when I literally went to the phone book and just sent out resumes to every firm listed under marketing + advertising. Low + behold, I actually got a call from a marketing research company that hadn’t advertised any position yet but my resume came in the mail and they thought I might be a good fit. Serendipity. Right time, right place. This is where my love for marketing research began. It combines my capability for numbers with my passion for creative storytelling + design. 

I call bullshit on your passion is a bold statement that just says don’t put all your eggs into the passion basket. You have to fill up your capabilities basket too in order to be happy AND make money. What capabilities or skills do you possess that help you succeed? Let’s get the conversation started on what we are good at + how that connects to what we are passionate about.