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The Downside of Doing What You Love
(full story below)
By Dan Schawbel

There are countless articles written about the importance of doing what you love and it’s how many of us define success. Most successful people I interview recommend “following your passion”, but there’s a dark side that is never discussed. When you love your work, you may perform better and be happier, but it simultaneously becomes addictive and consuming. You trade work for time spent with family and friends. You decide not to go on vacation or do work on vacation. You avoid being present around others because your mind is still doing work. You become burned out after hours, days, months and years constantly working on projects you love. While I have enjoyed the freedom, gratification and passion that has come with my entrepreneurial journey, I realize that there are many tradeoffs to living this life.

When you do work you’re not passionate about, it’s easier to have balance between your personal and professional life. You would gladly stop working on a project after you leave the office because you don’t genuinely care about the result or have a burning desire to improve it. When you stop working, you allocate time to personal activities, friends and family. By loving what you do, there is no balance because you view your work as your hobby. Instead of stopping a project once you get home from work, you continue pursuing it until you wake up the next morning. Of course, if you hate your job, you won’t be happy, healthy and it could create toxic relationships, but loving your job can be unhealthy too!

The old saying “do what you love and the money will follow” isn’t necessary true either. A lot of passions don’t end up turning into a profit. Just because you write a book doesn’t mean you’ll have any readers and people aren’t lining up to advertise on your podcast so quickly. We admire those who can live a life of freedom, yet those who live this life don’t discuss the tradeoffs that occur when pursuing and maintaining it. For instance, I was invited to my friends bachelor party in Austin, but chose to interview Richard Branson in San Francisco over it. If I wasn’t passionate about what I do, I would have chosen the former, which will have enhanced the relationships that matter more than career opportunities.

The first step in being able to manage a passionate career is to recognize work creeping into your personal life and then being able to properly integrate both in a harmonious way. While we block our calendar for work calls, interviews, and meetings, why not do the same for personal activities? When you treat work as your only hobby it can become dangerous. Think of other activities you’ve enjoyed in the past and then put your time, money and attention on them. Instead of falling into the ‘passion trap’, realize that you don’t have to live that way. Start to treat your work as work and not as a hobby and separate your time so you can be happier, healthier and make time for the things that actually matter in life – human relationships!
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