5 Flaws of a Passion Centrist Life and 1 Pragmatic Alternative

Why I wrote this article?

Passions are a moving target. Depending on them financially may be a real threat to our stability! This article proposes a mind-opening viable alternative for those who, to date, could not find a thriving life.


Current hype is to let go of everything in life and follow one’s passion often by building a business. An attractive but also risky choice. I know friends that went through tough times and hardly recovered in the pursuit of their passions.

This article is about clarifying the flaws of following single-mindedly that model and the alternative options to still thrive.

Transparency disclaimer: I’m currently trying to build a business I’m passionate about so don’t think I’m discouraging anybody from following that path ☺. I just wanna make sure things are clear before anyone makes the plunge.

Let’s start

Do what you love and money will follow — Marsha SINETAR

Quite true… But not always true, in effect:

  1. All passions are not passions…
  2. are (very) tough to unveil…
  3. then change repeatedly over a lifetime…
  4. knowing that we don’t have total control over how we make a living…
  5. and that following our passions somehow makes our brain lazy.

Happiness disclaimer: There is an alternative model, so bear with me ☺.

1. All passions are not passions

The most commonly accepted definition of passion is somehow inaccurate. It focuses on the satisfaction we get from practicing an activity. This isn’t specific enough and it doesn’t allow to set apart true passions from fake ones.

What is a fake passion?

We’ve all seen people collapse after failing at what they thought was their passion. Many had to rebuild their life from scratch after an emotional breakdown.

How come this is possible? Aren’t passions supposed to drive resilience and a generous amount of positive energy?

Simply because all passions are not passions… but look pretty much like passions.

Not to get into the technicalities, the general idea is that there are many things we do in life as a compensation for an unsatisfied subconscious need. According to INC, those compensations may come in the form of a “passion”. It drives us for a while, boosts us in positive energy we happily share around us until we experience a drawback.

Then, we are under the impression that the world is collapsing… Acquaintances try to reconnect us to whatever drove us in the (near) past. We just cannot anymore. Most discussions end-up in “You cannot understand”. What we really mean is “I don’t understand”. Yes, we don’t understand how our inner impetus turned into a heavy drag.

The heavy drag is a combination of:

visible loss related to our passion + invisible loss of the subconscious need

As we are unable to get a concrete grasp of the loss, life loses meaning…

2. Passions are (very) tough to unveil

Trying to find your true passion might take a lifetime if ever unveiled. It’s a lengthy trial and error process with no guarantee of success. You have to be an acute self-observer to progressively get a grip on it.

3. Passions change repeatedly in a lifetime

What do you most like doing? What did you like doing 10 years ago? And if you went back in time some more, would the answer still be the same?

According to research NO. You’ve probably changed again and again your favorite activity. You may even be wondering how you ever enjoyed it in the first place.

Your passion is most probably a moving target. How wise is it to chase? Especially if financial sanity depends on it… maybe it’s a too hectic life.

4. Following your passions somehow makes your brain lazy & egoistic

Pursuing single-mindedly your passions programs your subconscious to seek solely satisfaction and run away from frustration. You become dopamine-dependent and unable to manage slightest frustrations. This builds both laziness & egoism:

  • Laziness in the sense that our brain gets accustomed to doing only things that deliver (immediate) satisfaction and runs away from frustration. We behave like spoiled kids. If you think this is a suitable lifestyle, ask your life partner or colleagues ☺.
  • Egoism: shunning frustration also often comes at the expense of others. We prioritize ourselves; no sacrifice, no compromise…

5. You don’t really have control over what you do for a living

Finding a dream job isn’t always possible. And maybe it’s not even worth it.

Consider the following example from our friend Van Gogh.

This guy spent his life rejected by the artists’ community, the public and flirting with bankruptcy. He was pursuing his art. Something he cherished more than anything else including richness and social status. Two drivers most of us crave. So we can consider that, to Van Gogh, painting was life.

Now, let’s guess how he would have reacted if presented with this offer: paint 1’000 identical pieces for nationwide advertising. A job well paid. Over a short time, he could make more money than in a lifetime. Would he have accepted? With zero doubt, it’s a clear NO, and had he had accepted, he would have hated it to death.

Sounds like a contradiction, a fan of painting hating a well paid painting job?!

What this example teaches us is that, often, what we think our passion is, is much more linked to the WAY we do things rather than WHAT we actually do.

We are starting to get a grasp of the “alternative model”. ☺

What should we follow instead?

Whereas we may have limited control over what we do for a living, we have more influence on “How” and “Why” we do it. No need to single-mindedly follow our passions to live a fulfilling life.

We can thrive because we chose to contribute to things that are bigger than us. So what is your purpose? Mission? Values? Find them and act upon. Just like we would do for an appointed objective at work, we may as well have an action plan for a self-elected mission, purpose or values.

Until you’ve found something meaningful to die for, you are not fit to live — Martin Luther King
Click to tweet

And as Simon SINEK puts it in Start With Why; what you do in life is incidental, WHY you do it never changes.

Now that we are ready to ride the noble waves of purpose, we may crave a quick blast at times ☺. Yes, it is possible to enjoy flow state without specifically practicing that one activity that spices up life.

What gets us into the flow state is more important than what we do in the flow – K
Click to tweet

Just like in Van Gogh’s example, painting (what) is not a sufficient condition to reach flow. Just think of whatever activity you crave doing and imagine yourself playing with these parameters:

  • Rhythm/pace: A long-distance runner is not attracted by sprints, a joyful pianist prefers quick music pieces… So why would we assume that pace at work doesn’t matter? Slow down or accelerate… notice the mood shift.
  • Social setting: How do you like to spend your time? Alone or in the company of fellows? Chances are you like to work in that same social setting. Consider this example in an article by Aytekin Tank, JotForm CEO: “Hiring someone to help me work out is a privilege, but I enjoy the process far more when it’s social… I’m working with my own nature, not against it.” Click to tweet
  • Action vs. People vs. Things/Events vs. Concepts: What attracts you most? Getting into ACTION, get informed about PEOPLE (be them politicians lives or Hollywood stars), learn about latest inventions/designer jeans (THINGS) or read a good non-fiction article (CONCEPTS)?
  • Mind, Body & Soul: Who serves who? Is it your body that serves as locomotion means for your head or your head that provides your body a coordination tool?
    Does everything happen in your head? Or everything is rooted in your heart?
  • Repetition: Are you a craft-worker or an artist? Craft-work is about mastering a few pieces and reproducing them while art is about creating a new piece each time. Some of us, crave repetition others despise it.
  • Details vs. generalities: Would you rather go for the big picture or do you feel the urge of going beyond and dive into (complex) details? Are you like DHH and Tim Ferriss? The more you dig, the more enjoyment you feel?
  • Freestyle vs. rules: Would you rather go for a white-space conquest or fight against an identified competitor in markets with established rules?
Flow State Diagram

BENEFITS

The above model is applicable to any activity (work & business). Using it allows to, either transform dreadful activities into enjoyable ones at best, or understand which activities you should let go at worst. So before quitting a job you hate, give it a sincere try. If it doesn’t work, you would still end up leaving your job but get the double benefit of having a clear conscience and knowing what to look for next.

Putting fulfillment into an equation

Fulfillment Factors Scheme

To sum-up

We’ve learned how to

  • tell a true from a fake passion.
  • inject flow in virtually anything.
  • reach fulfillment.

If you still believe (after this exercise) that starting your business is your true calling, just keep in mind:

General wisdom: Find out what you’re PASSIONATE about & start a business
New wisdom: Find out what you’re RESILIENT at & start a business — K
Click to tweet

And remember…

What gets us into the flow state is more important than what we do in the flow – K
Click to tweet

Best of luck ☺

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