Passion Or Profit

Should young people only pursue careers they enjoy, or should they pursue careers that would ensure they get paid and can afford a good life?In university, I was obliged to study a course my father insisted I study, well, almost (Story for another day). I was borderline miserable during my first Semester in Uni, and the only saving grace was that I had amazing friends who helped me enjoy my new course programme.

The “course of study experience” stayed with me, and I promised myself that I would let my children pick their own careers, whether they wanted be footballers, dancers or engineers. I would let them choose, no matter what.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I have two teenagers, and I now believe that there must be a balance between what they are passionate about, what they have an aptitude for, and what is profitable for them and the world in general. I now take a position that “Do what you have to, until you can do what you want to” sometimes you may have to pursue what is profitable, and that will enable you pursue your passion.

Passion, talent and dream are not necessarily the same thing. In my career (Not in line with what my father wanted me to study, by the way), I meet a lot of young people who insist that they want careers that are all the rage, and that are on trend. They insist that they are passionate about such and such career, and therefore, they expect to be successful at it from day one. I am quick to highlight that trends change, and that the job landscape is ever evolving. There are jobs now, that didn’t exist a year ago, and we are seeing jobs and careers that are disappearing as well. So is this your “passion” relevant to the future, or is it hinged on something that is quickly becoming extinct? I appreciate the place of passion and drive in every endeavor, but there is a significant body of work that addresses passion, talent and hard work. And hard work trumps lazy talent and undirected passion every time. There is also a place for satisfaction, self actualization and happiness. In fact, we spend our entire lives searching for that sweet spot where we are truly fulfilled, and a significant part of it as adults come from what we do for a living. You may be successful, but you would definitely be sad, working at a job you hate. So, passion has its place.

Quick reminder though, Passion only, will not put food in your belly, pay your rent, or buy you clothes. – let’s not even discuss that private jet you have your eye on.  Besides, you could be terrible at what you are passionate at. So what do you do? Is it possible to create other possibilities, where you grind and pursue profit at the beginning, but then use the profit to fund your passion? Is it possible to pursue both passion and profit at the same time? Is it possible to pursue profit in your day job, but pursue your passion in your spare time, or vice-versa? Is it possible to create an entirely new job specification that allows you blend what you enjoy, with what people need? (All hail personal shoppers) is it possible to create new possibilities?

I am not suggesting that you give up on your passion. On the contrary, I encourage you to pursue your passion with the passion it deserves.  But be aware that life does happen, and that you may have to do what needs to be done first, so that you can then do what you would like.

So, what would you do? I would love to hear your thoughts. Would you insist that you must follow your passions, or pursue what is profitable? Or create a world where you can do both?

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