Is Being "Passionate" Enough to Create Career Success?

What’s the number one thing people are looking for in their careers today?

You might be surprised that it’s not about money. People are looking to follow their passions. They believe that if they’re doing something they’re passionate about, they will be successful.

But the question is this: does having a passion for something actually lead to professional success? What else counts on the road to career success and what do we need to watch out for in the pursuit of our passions?

As an entrepreneur, I’m all for chasing that which you’re excited about. I love the idea of putting your stamp on something and pursuing what makes you feel alive and accomplished. But I also recognize that passion alone won’t get the job done.


4 Things Every Professional Must Learn About “Passion” and Career

1) Being passionate doesn’t mean doing things for free.

There’s a saying that goes, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” If we’re being honest, something more accurate would say “do what you love and you’ll end up working all of the time.”

The problem with the pursuit of our passions means work doesn’t always feel like work, and we’ll end up working when we shouldn’t. The lines between our work and our life become a little blurry. Because we’re pursuing something we love, we might end up being taken advantage of, or losing some much-needed objectivity.

Be careful of being so passionate about your work that you lose sight of other important things in your life—your health, your relationships, and even your own value. Too many people allow others to take advantage of their passions for free, cheap, or extra work simply because they enjoy it.

2) Hard work is a crucial part of the equation.

The problem with chasing passions is that it is too often dependent on a feeling. We have to be careful that we aren’t so enamored with the idea of finding and pursuing our passions that we jump from career to career and project to project so long as we find it exciting. If we hope to find career success, we have to find that deep-seated heart passion that really, truly keeps us up at night. It has to be something that we can’t escape regardless of our feelings, regardless of obstacles and difficulties.

If your opinion of your passion changes once it gets difficult or frustrating, it may not be your passion. If you hope to find career success, hard work and discipline are absolutely necessary pieces of the puzzle. Passions that change from week to week are hardly passions worth pursuing.

3) Recognize the privilege of working for your passions.

There is a significant chance that you will not work in a job in a field that satisfies your passions. You may not be able to start your own business, work for yourself, land your dream job, or spend your time chasing passion projects. For the vast majority of us, it’s not the reality. At least not all of the time, and not from the very beginning.

Again, the problem is that relying on passion leads to a lack of dedication to anything outside of those passions. And that, for many, leads to an unwillingness to be patient enough to create a foundation upon which you can pursue your passions.

For example, in real estate investment, the business in which I spend most of my time, investors often use their passive real estate portfolios as a means to achieve financial freedom. This takes patience and dedication. A portfolio has to be carefully managed and nurtured. Not every investor will ultimately quit their day job to retire early, but if they do, they have to be patient enough to wait until their investments can sustain and supplement that income.

If you want to find career success in pursuit of your passions, you might have some spend a few years...maybe five, maybe ten, maybe more...paying your dues in another career.

4) Success is the balance of dedicated discipline and a passionate pursuit.

I’m not down on the idea of being passionate. What gets people into trouble, however, is the pursuit of passion above all else. We’ve also perpetuated this idea to the point that anyone who doesn’t know or have a passion in their work often feels like they’re doing something horribly wrong!

Ideally, we find professional success in a place where commitment and passions meet. It’s not about giving up on our dreams and ambitions or sticking to a career that makes us miserable. It’s finding that whole-hearted dedication and discipline to do what we need to do in this moment to succeed. Whether we’re paying our dues to someday be able to work on something we’re passionate about or committed to making it happen despite the long hours and sleepless nights in the present, true career success happens when we can be both passionate and committed wherever we happen to be in life.

When our passions are more than flights of fancy and our jobs are more than just a way to earn a living, we will find the success we’ve been looking for.

How do you feel about the pursuit of "passion" in career? Does it matter to you? Tell me why or why not in the comments.