You cannot live by bread alone,
But for survival bread will suffice.
Following your passion is important but there are some undiscussed road mines along the road to your passion. In a war when armies attack they try to use the route which is least defended. In other words they look for a way to attack and win with the least amount of casualties.
Same with your career. While following your passion, first ensure your own survival, the idea is not to make yourself the victim of your passions.
So blindly following the advice to do what you love and follow your passion can be bad advice for some very obvious but often ignored reasons.
The first reason being that it gives the impression that passion is all that you need to have a great career. If you recall the figure I shared last week which I reproduce here – passion is just one Vertex of the Triangle that sets you on your path to a Great career. We need to look at passion in the context of our career and as an extension our life. If passion is all that you have, with no secure means to earn a livelihood – you are in for a life of borrowing & living on your parents money – not the best of ways to plan a successful life.
And what if your real passion does not have any takers, What do you do? How long are you willing to wait? Are you willing to while away the prime years of your life digging a well without any realistic expectation of water?
The second is that it needlessly limits your options. Why close doors before you even had a chance to find out what is on the other side? People don’t have a clear understanding of jobs other than what they are in and fresher’s face a worse plight in that respect. So letting something go without a clear understanding without even trying can be a big limiter.
Lets face it deciding to stick to your passion is going to limit your options. Limited options are good as long as they help building career focus. But doing so after some experimentation can give you a greater focus. Taking up something without knowing the other available options wont help in the long run. Because someday thoughts creep in as to what have you missed.
While planning you career you need to keep a tab on both the short term and the long term. In the short term you want a job to earn a livelihood. Survival comes first. You need something to survive independently. Yes you might not like the job you are doing but no one expects you to spend your entire life doing the same thing. Be open, be on the look out, experiment, take risks, be always trying to find what you are good at and what will earn you the best income. This will lead you to career satisfaction in all aspects , in job content, closeness to your passion and your compensation.
Let me share with you a story I came across in the Chicken soup Series.
A good looking young man called Manish landed in Bombay from a small town to pursue his passion in acting. He went to a few acting institutes which promised a great life of fame and fortune in Acting. He went to many such institutes and set up interviews. One such institute he went to was headed by a wiseman called Nitin. Nitin heard out Manishs’ dreams and background and asked him how will you survive in Mumbai for the first one year. In other words he wanted to know what would be his source of income.
Maneesh felt offended by this question. How does it matter to this fellow he thought. But he told Nitin he has some money and later he will survive with whatever small roles he get. So Nitin adviced him – Pahle apne pair jamalo ( first get a good footing … and then parallely you can pursue your passion). Without a source of income you will get frustrated after a facing the many rejections and give up on your desire to act. Manish followed his advice took up a regular job became a program manager in a leading Firm and pursues his passion for acting by being part of theatre and conducting events at his office. He is grateful for that timely advice he received. Many of his friends chose to pursue their passion and ended living on a meagre income.
So when we advice youngsters to follow their passion it might sound like the rightest thing to do. But lets temper it with reality so that the person on the receiving end of that advice goes on to thank us for the impact it has had in building his/her career.
Prakash Francis is a Talent Acquisition expert based in Bangalaore.