Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike.com.
It’s Saturday night, 11pm, and I’m at my desk working.
You don’t have to feel sorry for me though. I have no boss breathing down my neck or pressing deadline to meet. I could just as easily be at the bar, sipping a pint with friends.
But instead I’m at home, typing away fervently, working on my business.
Staying in and working on a Saturday night was an easy choice to make actually… It simply sounded like more fun.
The Tug of War Between Profit and Passion
Growing up, we’re taught that there’s work – that thing that provides financial security – and then there’s fun: our passions, hobbies, dreams and pursuits.
Sure, we can use the money we make from our day job to help fund our outside endeavors. Maybe if we’re really lucky, we’ll even find a career that’s also somewhat in line with our interests! But we’re cautioned that rejecting this model and putting our passions first means a life of Ramen noodles and ratty apartments.
These are our choices: profit or passion. Bring them together or keep them apart, it’s your call. But life is presented to us as a tug-of-war between two distinct forces
Could Passion and Profit be One and the Same?
Here’s a radical idea: maybe these two forces aren’t distinct at all.
When you look at people who truly dominate in their fields – the Oprahs and Obamas and even the Trumps of this world – they are usually highly passionate about their work. Innovators don’t find a compromise between profit and passion. They reject the binary all together.
Ultimately, the profit is where the passion is.
My reasoning isn’t based on any woo-woo theories about how the universe conspires to help those who follow their dreams either (though I do happen to believe this). My reasoning is based on numbers, and numbers alone.
What Does it Take to “Make it”?
“I want to say “good luck,” but it doesn’t take luck…”
These were the last words a stranger on a bus once said to me after a conversation in which I shared my plans to start a business to “inspire multipotentialites to embrace their multipotentiality.”
Most successful people will tell you the same thing: success is not a result of luck or talent. There’s no big break. You never get “discovered”. Success comes to those who work their ASSES off.
Hard work, persistence, long hours in the trenches, getting back up after a flop- these are the traits that distinguish the truly successful from everybody else.
We Always Work 1000% Harder on Something We Believe In
If hard work is the distinguishing factor between those who make it and those who do not, then what’s the best way to motivate hard work? Make all that hard work fun. Make it something you love.
I’m not saying that passion always immediately leads to profit. Sometimes it takes experimentation and a few failed attempts along the way. But when you’re filling your time with activities that light you up, work doesn’t feel like work. As a result, you’re infinitely more motivated to put in insane hours (like working till wee hours on a Saturday night).
Doing what you love means that you’re more driven, indeed overjoyed, to put in the hours necessary to crush it. You work and work and work because there’s nothing in the world you’d rather be doing! It’s like breathing.
But is there a Market for My Passions?
Alright, lets talk practicalities for a minute. The fact is, as hard as you may work on your passions, someone’s got to buy what you’re selling. Spending all day in your room reading mystery novels and writing odes on the guitar isn’t going to pay the bills. I hear you.
You absolutely need a way to channel your interests into something that others will pay for. But this is not a compromise or a constraint on your creativity, it’s a perk!
Would keeping all of your passions to yourself fulfill you in the long run anyway?
You don’t have to monetize all your passions. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to be a mulitpotentialite and have many areas of interest, you might want to keep some of them just for you.
But in the grand scheme of things, we all want to change the world, every single one of us. We want our time here to be meaningful, for some greater purpose.
When you channel your passions into something that adds value, solves problems and enriches lives, those passions become even more fulfilling. That’s also a service people will happily pay for.
What if You Don’t Feel like an Expert?
You may worry that you don’t have what it takes to turn your passion into a business, that you lack the expertise necessary to help others. Well, you know what? You’re wrong. As Barbara Sher says, “what you love is what you’re gifted at.”
Follow your heart, hone your skills and practice. If you’re doing what you love, you’ll have the drive to get good. Just start, you’ll get there.
This isn’t just about making money either. The whole world benefits when you’re doing your greatest work, and your greatest work will always be that which you love the most.