Life is hard. Choosing how you are going to make a living in this life is not any easier. There is a good chance you've had someone tell you to follow your passions and interests and they will lead to a fulfilling and fruitful life. Yet, so many of us choose a different road. Let's explore why this happens and some possible ways to change course.
You lack that one thing that you are truly passionate about.
It sounds great on paper to follow your dreams and you can make a living doing what you love. But, what if you just cannot pinpoint that one thing that truly gets you going and excited? Not everyone has something they are passionate about but, most people do. Maybe your life has beaten the passion out of you and that is something that needs to be explored. For example, when you were younger, did you love martial arts? Did you live for your training classes and competitions but then life happened and you find yourself not even able to make a few hours a week to participate even as a hobby? If you had the time and money was no object, would you find yourself back in the academy hours a day?
Maybe you have a passion and maybe life has put in on a backburner far away from your day to day. Spend some time and think about what your reason for waking up used to be before you found yourself in the life you have now. Is it something you could see yourself doing again? Is it something that could be a feasible career? Before you write off the idea of a passion, make sure you haven’t just forgotten it.
You found an easier, or faster way to make money.
This probably is the #1 reason people end up on a different path than their personal interests. You’re in your early twenties and maybe you just finished university. Fresh out, no cash (maybe even debt), living at your parents’ house and trying to figure out your next move. For the past 4 or 5 years, you have been living on your own and hear you are, back to where you came from. You have a business degree but your passion has always been cooking. You love to cook and do it every chance you get. You talk to a few restaurants who all offer you positions but, you have to start out at the bottom of the ladder. You have to work your way up and then, just maybe you will get a chance to start working in the preparation of the food, never mind becoming the actual executive chef. Around the same time as you start waiting tables, you meet a buddy for lunch and he shows up in a new car. Tells you about his flashy new downtown apartment and his new job selling insurance. He also mentions his team is looking for someone else and the boss is a fellow alumni of your university and it’s nearly a sure thing for you to get the gig.
Sound familiar? Sure it does. It has happened to almost all of us. The instant gratification of a healthy paycheck and a stable trajectory versus the grueling struggle to get to where you want to go. It is a lot easier in many ways to put the dream away, sell some insurance, get a new car, move into your own place, be able to go out on dates and live an independent life than to work your ass off for years before you gain an inch towards your dream. You put the dream off for a bit and you say you’ll come back to it. But, you never will because responsibilities only grown in quantity and size as you age and risk will no longer be a luxury you could have afforded but rather something now that is basically impossible.
Your responsibilities came on early.
This one hurts when it happens and it happens more than we think. Boy meets girl, girl gets pregnant, lives change. Parent passes away and an older sibling has to step up to take care of the younger ones. Family just not well off and no time for passion projects, they need food for the fridge. Life happens and sometimes, the events are brought on by our own choices but other times, it is just bad luck and circumstance.
This is a hard one to give advice on because when others depend on you to survive, that is something that needs to be taken seriously. If your passion can be done in parallel, then chase it but for us, the true responsibility of others’ lives is one of the most important parts of life. If your dreams have to take a back seat until the situation changes, there is no more noble reason.
You doubted yourself and you were scared.
Oh yes, the self-doubt and lack of confidence came and beat you down. We know a guy that back in 2005, wanted to open a gym. Not just a gym but a group class type gym like Crossfit. Now, in 2005, Crossfit was nowhere near where it is today but it was on the brink of a complete global explosion and nobody even knew it. Now, this guy was smart, college educated and had the ability to make this thing work. He was driven, passionate and most of all, loved being in the gym and everything about working out and helping others to work out. Did he open the gym and make tons of money doing what he loved and riding the Crossfit and group fitness wave? No. He got a 9-5 sales job, got married, had a couple kids and while he does very well, he hates what he does and is constantly thinking about the missed opportunity 15 years ago.
Why does this story happen so many times? It wasn’t the thought of taking out some credit to buy equipment or sign a lease. He was not worried about having to stay at a friend’s or even at his parents’ for a few months until things turned profitable. No, he just doubted that the idea he came up with would work. He doubted that HE could make it work and he was scared that he would waste precious time and resources to fail. He had no confidence in himself to make it happen. People do not jump out of planes because they think they will die. They jump out of planes because they have the confidence that they will do what needs to be done to follow their passion and land safely on the ground.
There is no roadmap to life. There are suggested paths and societal norms but there is no right and wrong way. Barring any circumstances that strictly prevent you from following your passions and your dreams, we highly recommend to go in that direction. If they lead you astray or don’t work out, you can always get back on the highway to “normalcy” but have confidence in yourself and take the jump. And by the way, there is such thing as it being too late but, too late is nearly always much later than what you think. So, revisit your passions and follow them now. They may lead you to another chapter of your life that may be much more fulfilling than the one you find yourself in.