3 Reasons Following Your Passion Will Send You To The Poorhouse

Whether you’re a writer, a designer, a baker or a candlestick maker, here are three reasons that following your passion over your career pragmatism is a recipe for ending up in the poorhouse:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Your passion is probably not profitable

Blessed are those who swoon at the thought of tax accounting or petroleum engineering, for they will be well-compensated for their love. If, however, the activity that makes your heart swell is less practical and economically in-demand, there’s a very real chance that you won’t be able to make a viable living from it. You might love teaching, offering life coaching services or taking baby portraits, but if the market doesn’t value these activities as highly as you do, you either have to fight the uphill battle of creating demand, pare down your lifestyle until you can afford to live on what you can get paid or accept that your passion is not suitable for paying bills. Yes, there are certainly a finite number of yoga teachers, life coaches and photographers who make excellent livings at their craft, but you may not be destined to be one of them. Take a searching inventory of the profit-generating skills and experience you do have and use the most lucrative among them as a means of earning your keep and purchasing yourself the mental freedom and leisure time to indulge in your passion without stressing about how to make it pay.

People expect you to do what you love for free

There is the assumption that if you love X, your love must be so great that you’d do it even if you didn’t get paid and there are people who are only too happy to take advantage of that assumption. While you might still write or compose music or paint even if you didn’t make a dime from it, that’s absolutely no excuse not to charge for your work (assuming the market bears it) or for others to expect you to perform your services gratis. Folks would never think to ask a plumber to work for free because he simply loves snaking drains, but if you’re trying to make a living from doing what you love in a creative field, there will always be potential clients, customers and acquaintances trying to leverage your passion for your work as a reason to pay you less than market value. When the skill set that you use to earn an income is one that you wouldn’t ply without compensation, those people tend to disappear. Don’t get sucked into running a talent-based charity.

Sometimes, life is about solving problems

This was sage advice given to a friend by her economist father. Very often, living is about finding solutions, workarounds, fixes and methods to get your needs met and these solutions, workarounds, fixes and methods often involve difficult, unpleasant work that doesn’t allow for much creative self-expression. None of us are owed a life in which we get paid to do exactly what makes us happiest and the sooner you get over your resentment at the rarefied few who do make a living from their love, the better off you’ll be. I always sigh a bit and roll my eyes when I hear reality TV contestants declare that they signed up for a given competition in order to provide a better life for their family. Yes, leaving your boring but paid day job to compete against 40,000 other hopefuls for a slim-hope chance at a record contract/cash prize/magazine spread is certainly a better way to ensure the financial well-being of your loved ones than staying in said boring but paid day job while you design clothes or sing at weddings on the side. Your problem is figuring out how to provide for your family. Solving it has much more to do with acting pragmatically than following your passion, I want to tell them. It’s a practical problem in need of a workaday solution, not pining your hopes on a gold ticket to Hollywood. In the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (but mostly Stills), if you can’t be with the one (profession) you love, love the one you’re with.

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