Why “Follow Your Passion” CAN be Terrible Advice!

Why “Follow Your Passion” CAN be Terrible Advice!

We’ve all heard the expression “follow your passion”. Such advice often means well. However it’s often misguided, irresponsible, and full of false hope to those who receive it.

I’m not going to let it slide. I see so many people I care about struggle with this idea. So many people stay stuck in life. Just waiting for the perfect passion to fall into their lap so that they can start living.

We need to put a stop to this and I’m starting with this article.

This advice comes in various forms:

  • Follow your bliss
  • Find your passion
  • Do what you love
  • Follow your heart

It would be kind to say this advice often comes from well-meaning individuals, who want to give you some sage old advice.

But let’s not let these Yoda inspired wannabes off the hook so easily. They need to take accountability.

Follow Your Passion

It’s the verbal equivalent of spinning someone around 20 times and then pushing them into the forest. Raising your thumb and shouting “GOOD LUCK!”.

Generally it’s what people pass off as advice when they don’t know what else to say. They figure, “Hey this can’t hurt” as they give their one size fits all solution.

It also strikes me as advice that is insulting to people’s intelligence. Like honestly, you don’t think people considered the idea of doing what they love?!

Now don’t get me wrong, it can be excellent advice. Because sometimes it’s super obvious that’s what people should do.

The Exceptions

In hindsight telling the now world-famous footballing sensation Cristiano Ronaldo as a 10-year-old boy to follow his passion was probably a good idea. But in fairness he probably didn’t need to be told.

There are going to be times when it’s undeniably obvious that someone should follow their passion. However these cases are incredibly rare and even when it’s obvious their success rate is even rarer.


Let it be known I would never tell someone not to follow their passion. That’s not what this article is about.

This article is about taking this advice off the table for a moment. And replacing it with advice that will have an impact and get results.

We do live in a world whereby this notion of following your passion is popularised. We greatly celebrate people who follow their passion and succeed. The media and the entire movie world catapults them to the stars.

This in turn shapes our world view of how we think things should be.

When our reality doesn’t match up with how we think things should be, it has a negative impact on our mental wellbeing.

We feel like failures.

Setting People up For Failure

Now if you’re giving people advice that statistically sets them up for failure. I put it to you that such advice is irresponsible.

You’re not doing them any favours. You’re setting them on a path of delusion.

The idea that people all over the world think they should follow their passion, leads to a world where people are just waiting around, waiting for their passion to hit them in the face.

It’s not going to happen. I mean it might. But in the same way you might get struck by lightening.

Because of this people fall into a trap of not pursuing anything with passion. Because it’s not what they are truly passionate about so why bother.

Instead of pursuing a life of passion, they end up pursuing a life of comfort and contentment.

Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what you chose for yourself.

But be honest with yourself, was it ever a choice?

The Life Demoralising Scenario

Another downfall is if someone was passionate about something but that ship sailed. Let’s say they wanted to be a professional footballer like Christiano Ronaldo, but it didn’t work out for them.

What options are they left with?

The world tells them to follow their passion, but clearly they can’t anymore. The life of being a professional footballer is not applicable to them.

So what, life is over for them, should they go on an endless pursuit to find another passion, maybe lawn bowls?

Passions And Feelings

Passions are also predominantly based on feelings. Feelings change. When I was a child I was passionate about sweets, then kickboxing, bodybuilding then gardening, then landscape architecture, then animal rights, then business development, then entrepreneurship.

Honestly I don’t know what the hell I’ll be passionate about next week!

Your feelings about a particular topic probably don’t make the best foundation for a business venture.

And from personal experience I can tell you often when you combine passion with business, the passion dies a slow painful death.

Now passion can and should play a role in our lives. But it is a tool to be used and not an effective guide when it comes to making our decisions.

Where Does That Leave us

If you’ve accepted the point that this is often bad advice. The question remains:

What better advice can we give?

I’ll tell you one thing, while I believe “follow your passion” is often terrible advice, I certainly believe that you should DO things with passion.

How do you do things with passion if they are not your true passion?

Who Are You?

If you have a strong sense of yourself you will do things with more passion. It doesn’t mater what they are.

You could be making your breakfast, exercising or running a business. Having a deeper sense of who you are will empower everything you do.

How Do You Find Out Who You Are?

First of all, you are not your passions. Passions change. What you do will change. Don’t identify with them so much or you’ll get stuck in your life. Life is dynamic and forever changing, moving from one form to the next.

Finding out who you are, is an endless pursuit and no one but you can truly answer that.

But there are tools and techniques to peel back the layers of conditioning that misguided you and took you away from who you are at your core.

Start With Your Values

People often say start with your WHY. I disagree. I say start with your values.

“What do you value?” is a tremendous question that expands your awareness.

For an example of values, please refer to my vision statement.

Whatever values you land on, dig deep and ask yourself “Why do I value that?”.

Then ask yourself “how and when do you express that value in your life?”.

Following this ask yourself “how would that manifest in your work/business job/life?” whichever circumstances you want to see it.

What you’re aiming to do here, is to identify the following:

  • What you value
  • Why you value it
  • How you see that value

Come up with a list of 15 or 20 values.

Then refine it. Get it down to about 5 of 7 values that really resonate with you.

You’ll begin to realize WHAT truly matters to you. And WHO truly matters to you. In a short time you will start becoming aware of opportunities to create and nurture more of this in your life.

No longer will it be so important what you do, but what will become truly important is HOW you do it.

You see you have the power inside you to do anything with passion. Just by understanding what you value most in this world.

Now the outcome of this, is that when you start doing things more passionately, you will find things you are naturally passionate about will come into your path.

You see you’re not meant to find your passion, your passion is meant to find you!

You don’t need to wait any longer. You have the ability to be passionate right now!

It’s time to get curious. Get passionately curious about your values.

If anything is worth being passionate about it’s you!

3 Replies to “Why “Follow Your Passion” CAN be Terrible Advice!”

  1. You made some really good points there.
    I’m 100% with you on “Life is dynamic and forever changing”, and so are we!

    Then you said we should know who we are, and know our values. I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to talk about this with many people? If you have, how many of them knew the answers?

    I think it’s sad to see how many people don’t truly know who they are, and what they stand for. Because that’s the root of most of their problems- they will never be able to feel fulfilled, no matter what path they take.
    I have talked to so many aspiring entrepreneurs, and the pattern is so clear. The reason why so many fail, is exactly because they don’t have a clue who they are or what they’re doing.

    I like to think that in order to be successful (financially or personal fulfilment) you need to find out what you’re good at, your natural talent. We all have a few, but we usually excel at one or two. Again, like you said, it’s all down to knowing who you are and refining that list of values (same with talents), and anything you do after that should feel natural and pleasurable. It could potentially become a passion.

    Some people might need professional help in finding out who they are. I would strongly recommend that as a first step, as I realise it’s not an easy task to most of us.
    Thank you for that insightful reflection!

    1. Hi Ilana,
      Thank you for the great comment.

      I’m glad parts of the article resonated with you.

      To answer your question, I’ve had this conversation with 2 people specifically and they did not have a clue how to answer. But they were incredibly open-minded to the process of discussing it.

      We spent days discussing it, hours at a time and once they realized their values the entire direction of their company changed for the better.

      Just knowing their values opened up new opportunities and a new lease of much-needed energy.

      Knowing our values allows us to inject meaning into anything we do, so that we, in turn, can do it with passion.

      I feel people generally do not want to put in the work that is needed to truly identify their values and this is why most never will.

      Thank you again for your comment Illana <3

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