I have a deep passion for pizza. And I love giraffes. Naturally, I should be an African safari guide with a Little Caesar’s franchise. That sounds as ridiculous on paper as it does in my head.
I recently watched Ben Horowitz’s 2015 Columbia University commencement speech. While I agree with everything he says, I am here to confirm that (as a realist) you don’t always have to follow your passion, or work a side hustle, to be happy in your career.
It is amazing when passion and career come together. I think about how fortunate those people are and how everything just falls into place for them. For most, though, that isn’t the case. I went to college with the notion that I knew what I wanted to do, and to some extent I am doing it. And, along the way I have found new passions to pursue.
But if we are talking about following dreams, I would have been the next Sally Ride and probably living in space right now (which still would be pretty cool). Which brings me to the first reason why you shouldn’t focus on finding your passion. Think about your passions over the years, how often they changed and how often you have changed your course unexpectedly. Life is going to throw you some curveballs. There is no guarantee that what you’re passionate about now will be the same in five or 10 years.
The other great point Horowitz makes is that we are not necessarily meant to follow our passion. He references the show “American Idol.” The show has professional judges for a reason. Not everyone is a great, or even good, singer. I once made a “pizzadilla” with a quesadilla maker and I have seen giraffes at the zoo, but I am not on track to open the world’s first giraffe safari pizza franchise.
This is not to say you shouldn’t enjoy what you’re doing. After all, it will take up the majority of your time throughout your life. I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t work your ass off to get the job you want. I am simply saying that we are not all going to be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Arianna Huffington. You should be realistic about your future goals and make what you’re doing now a passion.
You will find something to complain about in any job you have (yes, even your dream job). It is your life and your future, if you don’t like it, you need to make a change—professionally or personally. If the image in your head now differs from how you thought your life would end up, change your mindset.
The last bit of advice Horowitz gives is that the job and life you have now is for a purpose. You should start living, and working, for your contribution instead of your passion.
Stop wondering what you’re going to be when you grow up. Watch the video; thank me later.