It’s safe to say every human being wants to find a career doing what they love—or, at the bare minimum, doing something they enjoy.
However, doing what you love as a career is far more difficult than it’s made out to be. If it was more attainable, there wouldn’t be so many resources out there helping people “discover their passion,” or “learn how to take the leap.” But the truth is, a lot of people struggle with it.
So what’s the challenge?
Why is doing what you love such a difficult task?
1. It Requires A Massive Upfront Investment
The people you see in their 20’s, or even their 30’s living “the dream life” invested years upon years of practice into their now primary skill set. It’s easy to see the digital nomad, the touring musician, or the young and ambitious entrepreneur as an overnight success. But what you don’t see are all the hours spent learning, studying, and honing their craft—until one day, it all came together. Being able to do what you love full-time means that you have to be so good at something other people want it. And the truth is, most people don’t have the patience for that. They’d rather be told what to do and how to do it.
2. It Means Delaying Gratification
The biggest pitfall most people fall into happens immediately after college. They graduate with a degree—and one they may not have even wanted in the first place—and get offered a job. They take it, receiving their first raise six months later. Then they get comfortable. Instead of saving money and thinking about how they can transition into something more enjoyable, they upgrade their apartment, their car, start frequenting nicer restaurants and immediately satisfy their need for gratification. But the people you see living their dream? They delayed that gratification. They carefully saved their money and deliberately invested their time into the thing they ultimately wanted to do.
3. You Have To Make It Happen On Your Own
Doing what you love takes a lot of self discipline. Nobody is going to care if you ever make your dream real or not. Sure, some of your friends might support you along the way. One or two might try their best to hold you accountable. But ultimately it comes down to you and how bad you want it.
4. People Around You Will Subtly Urge You Not To
Even if you are extremely careful to only keep like-minded people in your circle of friends, it can still be a challenge to remember your dream when the majority of people do not live that way. It’s hard to stay driven and focused when all around you people are validating the opposite behavior. In society, we applaud instant gratification, quick raises, easy money, corporate ladders. The challenge for you is to not fall into that same trap, and to keep yourself focused on where it is you want to go.
5. Because You Define Your Own Success
Doing what you love comes with a good amount of ambiguity. You are the one who sets the path. You are the one who determines how far you want to go. And you are the one who ultimately decides what “success” looks like. This is arguably the primary reason most people do not pursue what they love, because they can’t handle the ambiguity. They need—similar to the way it is defined in school—someone to tell them what to do, explain how it’s done, and set the markers for “success.”
Doing what you love has a lot less to do with “deciding,” as much as it does taking the time to understand what is holding you back in the first place—and then addressing those obstacles head on.