Posts Tagged ‘new graduates’

“Follow Your Passion” May Leave You Poor and Regretful

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

fishing

Unless you’re independently wealthy, “following your passion” can be costly

One of the most popular career adages given to young people as they are preparing for college and their career is the simple message: follow your passion.

It may be proposed as a solution to figuring out what you want to study, or what job you should take, or even where you should live. It appears regularly during graduation speeches, job training seminars, and even on the lips of your parents and friends when you ask them for advice. And oftentimes, it is emphasized over more practical concerns, like ability, skill, or viability.

And it certainly sounds great… who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their life devoted to what gives them the greatest joy and satisfaction?

But many experts, not to mention people who have tried to live this advice, say that doing this can be tricky when it comes to your career. To be blunt, as Mike Rowe, host of the TV show “Dirty Jobs,” put it, “Just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it.”

Here are three reasons you might want to think twice about running after your passions:

A passion for the topic doesn’t mean you’ll like working in that field

After a snorkeling trip to Hawaii during high school, San Diego resident Deborah Fox became fascinated with marine biology, which she subsequently majored in. So when she landed a job at a fish farm upon graduation, she was thrilled — but not for long.

“I was throwing fish chow into the tanks and the fish were going crazy, splashing around and soaking me. Here I am a social person and I’m alone all day with these fish who just splash me with water. What am I doing?” she asked herself. “I found out that having a passion for a certain type of study or interest does not necessarily translate into finding passion for the day-to-day work in that area,” she says.

Career coaches often say the same: You may be passionate about the idea of a career, not the career itself. And, like Fox did, you may find that your personality traits — in her case, a love of people — don’t fit in with the traits needed to do your job.

That’s one reason that before you pursue a certain line of work you think you’re passionate about, you should ask people who have worked in the field a long time about what the job is like, and its pros and cons. You might even shadow someone who does the job you want so you have some real life experience to base your decision on.

You may not be good at what you are passionate about

Many an out-of-tune “American Idol” contestant has learned this message the hard way.

Indeed, there is often a gap between our passions and our skills, experts say. You may love art and dream about being an artist, but if you’re not good at it, that passion won’t translate into a career for you.

Or you may be good at certain parts of the job you’re passionate about, but not others — a fact that Southern California resident Jasmine Powers found out the hard way. Fed up with her administrative job, nine years ago Powers struck out on her own to pursue her passion of becoming a freelance events specialist.

But she soon realized that, while she was great at the events side of her business, she struggled with how to sell her services to clients. “I love working with other small businesses doing consulting and event marketing, but with a crowded marketplace of digital marketing experts and savvy founders, I struggled to prove my value and turn significant profits,” she says.

Those looking to pursue a passion career should do a reality check and be honest with yourself about your abilities before moving forward.

rowe_jobs

You may not be able to support yourself on your passion

Many people are passionate about career paths that simply won’t pay their bills, experts say. For example, while tens of thousands of Americans are passionate about crafting, it’s hard to make a living doing it. Indeed, there are few jobs — just over 50,000, about half of which are self-employed people — in the crafting and fine arts arena, and median pay isn’t great at just over $21 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You might enjoy making hats, but a little research will show you that milliners do not have a bright future in the U.S.

What’s more, you may be passionate about a dying field. And that means that while it may pay the bills now, there may not be a future in it for you.

So, unless you’re independently wealthy or have a pile of savings, you likely need to consider whether your passion can pay. Make sure to research your planned career in advance, talk with people who already work in the field, and recognize that if the pay or the future of the career isn’t great, you may find yourself with a second job just to support the first one.

This isn’t meant, of course, to destroy any hope you have of following your dream career. After all, it’s not all about money or ability… there are many other potential reasons to follow your passion, whether it’s personal fulfillment, happiness, or peace of mind.

It’s just important to be realistic and realize that it may not work out, and that even if it does, it may not be as lucrative or as fulfilling as you’d hope.

Good Luck!

This popular career advice may leave you poor and regretful | Catey Hill via Market Watch