Everybody and their mother will tell you nowadays to follow your passion. To dream big. To be bold. To make whatever you can to turn your dreams into reality.
If you’ve been around on this planet for long enough (let’s say, for more than 40 years) this trend is actually something extremely new. Just a few decades ago doing such a thing was marginal. People engaging in such behavior were outcasts, banished from society. Whoever was taking this path and ended up being successful was considered “the exception that confirms the rule”. The rule being to obey, to fit into a carefully oiled social mechanism by starting a standard career: an engineer, a doctor, a whatever.
Well, things changed drastically during the last 20-30 years. Now, following your passion, your dream, seems to be the norm. At least at the aspirational level, this is the ubiquitous daydream. There are thousands of sites on the internet telling you the magic formula for this. There are workshops, coaching programs, mastermind groups, everything you can imagine, and then more.
And that’s basically the exact opposite of how it was 40 years ago. Now there’s an inflation of “follow your passion” approaches out there. Some of them work, to a certain degree. Some of them not. And some of them are just bad jokes. And that’s why a bit of salt is always welcome when it comes to assess what is actually good advice about following your passion and what’s just hype, or, sadly, plain delusion.
I’ll be very honest with you: I tried to do this long before it was cool. I tried to make this happening even before there was a name for it. And I had my fair share of pains because of this: not fitting in, generations conflict, sometimes even depression, lack of money, loss of friends, you name it, I had them all.
But, fortunately, to a large extent, this worked.
At this moment I’m living a satisfactory life. It’s not the amount of money that I have (or have access to). Because I don’t have that much. It’s not the glamour of a luxurious, continuous holiday. I live quite humbly, by many standards:
it’s just a digital nomad life, with an entrepreneurial twist.
But for me, this is what I wanted. This was my dream, if you want. My passion.
Since I had so many encounters with the process of turning my dreams into reality, I thought to share with you a few points that, hopefully, will shed some light on this.
The Following Passion Map
To put it very bluntly, this is how it works. This is the simplest way to explain this.
To put it into words: if there is an intersection between what you love to do (constantly) and what people actually need and are willing to pay for – you’re set. Your passion just turned into a business (or a sustainable lifestyle).
This is the most basic evaluation that you should do. If there’s no intersection, well, obviously, there are no unicorns and fairies. If there’s a big intersection, congrats, you’re truly living a wonderful life.
But there are a few caveats.
In my experience, this map is always changing. The two areas are constantly shifting, both in size and in position. And that gives us the most important three declinations of this map.
1. Too Much Demand Versus Too Little Passion
This happens for instance if you’ve been doing this for a long time. And, eventually, you got bored. I know I experienced this a few years after I started my first business. Things were going pretty smoothly in terms of clients, but I kinda lost my mojo (or my passion). So I got overwhelmed and I have to make a decision. In the end, I decided to sell the business for a profit and focus on something else. Among other stuff, I focused on this blog. The good news is that the passion for this blog is still going strong. 🙂
2. Too Much Passion Versus Too Little Demand
This usually happens when you’re just starting out. In the first stages of a business, there is this huge enthusiasm, the passion, the joy, the exhilaration, all of them going well over the potential number of clients. Which can be confusing, at times. You put yourself out there, and nothing happens. At least in the beginning. Usually, if nothing dramatic happens, in a few years the circles will equalize, and the passion and clients will be balanced.
3. The Wonderland
This happens usually when you’re at the peak of your career (or for your entire life, if you have a ridiculously good karma). It’s the magic period in which everything clicks. Your passion and your clients are literally the same thing. You’re not confused, overwhelmed or psychotic.
That’s the state that many of those “magic formula” sites or internet programs are trying to sell, because, deep down, we all crave for that and we all know how to recognize that nice “clicking” feeling inside us and we all want a way to make it happen again and again. Alas, nothing is everlasting. In my experience, this superposition is transitory and the map will evolve into one of the first cases: we either become overwhelmed, or we cling to the past, somehow.