Turning Your Passion Into a Job is a Huge Mistake (Do This Instead)

I think we’re all a little desperate to bring joy and passion to our lives these days.

The US labor participation rate is the lowest it’s been in almost 50 years (61.4%). 23% of all homes suffered from food insecurity last year, compared to 10.5% in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, anxiety and depression rates have surged as well, creating a mental health pandemic within a viral pandemic. 42% of U.S. adults reported symptoms of anxiety and/or depression as of December 2020, jumping from just 11% in early 2019.

Lots of people (and maybe you’re one of them) looked in the face of this negativity and decided they finally wanted to pursue their dream of opening a business or pivoting in their career. You might as well make something positive grow out of all the negative, right? You figured you’d follow in the footsteps of your favorite inspirational movie plot (they make it look so easy): You decided to turn your passion into a job. 

Well, there’s a reason the dream of opening a business or starting a job centered around your passion is often too good to be true—because it often IS a fantasy trope resigned to movies. 

While you should absolutely strive for a career path you actually enjoy, you should also approach the idea rationally because your professional life can get much worse than just “getting bored of it.” 

Instead, dig deeper into your passion than ever to leverage it. Let me explain.


Only turn your passion into a job if you want to steal joy from your life

Seriously, transforming your lifelong passion into a career path might be the worst mistake you ever make. I’m not being melodramatic—think about it.


You could grow to hate your passion

“Yeah, I know. I’ll get bored of doing it every day.”

That’s part of it, sure, but there’s also a big chance you won’t enjoy the day-to-day work involved as much as you think you will.

Here’s a potential deep cut: remember in The Office when Pam drops out of art school, mentioning that she wasn’t thrilled about a life of designing brand logos? Most of us forget that what we want to do and what customers are willing to pay for are two different things.

How would you react to someone else telling you how to do your passion? 

It’s different doing something you love when you have to do it—there are deadlines, new constraints, and other people who will undoubtedly need to weigh in. Think seriously about how it will feel to watch your passion—something you once did simply for the joy of doing it—morph into “work.”


You won’t give up when you should (and no one will convince you to)

Whether turning your passion into a job involves opening your own business or pursuing a new career path, the endeavor still requires an investment in both time and money.

Your friend might gently mention that the job outlook doesn’t look great for your passion, especially with AI taking off. Maybe consider something else? 

Not a chance—suddenly your closest friend is simply a hater who wants you to give up.

Your partner might suggest the coffee shop franchise you bought into is driving your retirement savings into the ground.

You wonder if they’ve always been this unsupportive of your dream.

No one wants to tell someone their passion isn’t working out as a career, even if it’s destroying them. 


You won’t make levelheaded business decisions 

Strong emotions always cloud our judgment. That’s why the justice system uses such a delicate jury selection process to source and pick unbiased jurors—jurors can’t even watch coverage on TV.

When we turn our passion into a job, we find ourselves making excuses for everything. You could see terrible results from your first bits of market research analysis and say, “Well, my plan is a little different. People will want this. I’ll make it work.”

This can apply not only to starting your own business, but more traditional career paths as well. You may find yourself working low-paying jobs just to get your foot in the door because you “love to do it,” even though you have no professional experience. 


You’ll lose your main outlet for relaxation and stress relief 

Let’s say everything works out. Your business is humming along smoothly, or you landed a secure job at a company. 

So, what are you doing this Saturday morning when you’d normally be jumping head-first into your passion? Probably not whatever you did at work all week.

Every situation is different, but you risk feeling pretty empty after you lose your passion for your…well, passion.


Don’t turn your passion into a job—leverage it

Now for the fun and optimistic part. 

What do people really mean when they talk about the dream of turning their passion into a job? Often, it’s not that complicated—they want to make enough money to live comfortably at a job they enjoy (at least most of the time).


What did you love about prior jobs?

What individual skills have you gained from your passion that you enjoy? 

The idea is to nail down a list of skills you can leverage along with specific tasks and environments where you shine. Search relevant job postings and business ideas to explore how the day-to-day works when money’s involved.


What did you hate about past jobs?

Be specific. Brainstorm a list of tasks that make you pull your hair out, environments that stress you out, and types of work you’d never want to do again. Figuring out where you don’t thrive is just as important as figuring out what you enjoy. 


How do you want to impact the world?

Is there a special cause or societal problem you feel particularly strong about? Run a search for paid positions where you can be part of something bigger than yourself.

Alternatively, what kind of work makes you feel good about yourself and the world? You don’t have to change the world, but you can use your skills and knowledge to make a difference in the lives of some people.

The goal here is to understand what you’re searching for in your day-to-day work on a deeper level. 


What’s your passion?

We all need different conditions to thrive. Some of us work better crunching numbers; others need hands-on activities. You just need to spend time learning about yourself so you can figure out where you belong—or where you don’t. 

With Vector, you can earn money working from home while building the necessary skills to leverage your passion into your own business or career. See how it works for yourself.