The day you decide to step out, take a risk and seriously pursue your passion is both an exciting and a scary one. It doesn’t matter if you’ve given up your job (what’s financial security?) or are working toward your dreams on the side (what’s free time or a social life?).
Either way, it is a wonderfully liberating experience that will bring you great joy. But there are also a number of myths you’ll encounter during your journey. These myths can bring you to a screeching, demoralising halt. Below, I’ll debunk those myths and bring you the truth about this journey you’ve begun, or will begin!
Let’s start with the easiest one.
Myth: You will be good at your passion from the outset
Yes, there are some geniuses who get everything right the first time. Their first business plan is perfect. Their first fashion line is a runaway success. Their first artwork is picked up by a prestigious gallery. These people are the rarities.
What does it mean if you’re not one of them? The key phrase in this myth is “from the outset”. Your family and friends may have told you that your plans or your work are absolutely brilliant. But that means nothing in an increasingly connected world, where the marketplace is formed from an international community.
You may start at a slightly higher level but like any craft, you will need to work hard and continually improve. The difference is, because you’re passionate about what you do, you will have the motivation to work harder and sacrifice more than the others who are doing the same thing for the fame or the money.
Myth: You will wake up every day feeling excited and energised
Or if you’re pursuing your passion on the side, on the days that you’ve set aside to work on it.
Because you’re working on something you’re passionate about, you’ll be ready and raring to go every day, right? You already get such joy from doing it as a hobby, why wouldn’t you be excited to wake up to it every day?
Not quite. It’s true there are many days when you can’t wait to jump out of bed and get started. But the truth is, there will also be days—even entire periods of time—where you hit a block and lose inspiration or motivation. There are only blank plans, blank sheets, blank canvases before you no matter how much you push yourself. There will be times when you simply don’t feel like doing anything and think, This sucks!
the truth is, there will also be days—even entire periods of time—where you hit a block and lose inspiration or motivation
This is especially true for projects that can go over months, and sometimes even years.
You should not feel guilty. It’s perfectly normal to have ups and downs along the way. It doesn’t mean that you’re not passionate enough or that you’ve made a mistake. It’s okay to take a short break, relax, and let yourself be unmotivated for a while.
There are also times when you need to keep working despite how you feel. You may not be excited at all, but you need to plod on. Stick to your plan even though you don’t want to do a thing. Take one more step, then another, and another, until you reach the point where you find your spring again.
Because you have that innate passion and believe in you’re doing, because you have your goal and know why you are doing it—that is what will keep you going.
Myth: You don’t need to worry about the business side of things because others will do that for you
This myth applies to those whose passions aren’t rooted in the business world. Perhaps you love cooking, or creating, or inspiring others. You’d like to make some money from what you do, but you also want to focus on what you love and not be concerned over the pesky business side of things. There are people who can manage all that for you, aren’t there?
Let me be clear. It’s not a bad thing to have someone else managing the commercial aspects of what you do. But it’s a bad thing to blindly entrust everything to them without understanding the ins and outs of the business yourself.
You don’t need to know the nitty-gritty details or be an expert… [but] you must know enough to be able to question their plans and decisions
Understand the job this person will be doing and the choices they will have to make (eg. standard marketing techniques for the industry, the average rates or prices, the average commission for the person you want to hire). Look into common scams and understand the risks of any approaches you might take to commercialise what you do.
You don’t need to know the nitty-gritty details or be an expert. That’s what you’re hiring someone else to do. But you must know enough to be able to question your expert’s plans and decisions, and what they want to charge you. And you must be able to understand their responses and weigh them up against your other options. It’s not all that exciting or all that fun, but understanding the business is a crucial aspect of pursuing your passion long-term.
Myth: It’s not really work
This is a phrase that I find incredibly frustrating. Other people use it to imply that because you’re doing what you love, it’s not worthy of being classified as actual work. Especially if you’re doing it part-time around a paying job. You’re expected to work at your passion then come out fully refreshed and ready for ‘real’ work because it’s something you know you were meant to do. It’s the same as relaxing over a good book or a nice glass of wine, isn’t it?
What others don’t realise is that pursuing your passion means long days and longer nights. It means constantly challenging yourself, reworking or reinventing your previous work because it doesn’t meet your standards, and sacrificing other aspects of your life to accommodate.
But you choose to, so it must be enjoyable to do so! It’s a choice, that much is true. That doesn’t mean it’s not work, and it doesn’t tire you out the way the daily 9-to-5 grind does. If anything, it’s even more tiring because your love of what you do pushes you further. You choose to pursue your passion because it’s meaningful to you, and worthwhile.
Myth: You’re not allowed to complain
You are doing something you truly love and believe in. Therefore you wake up excited and loving life every day. What you’re doing isn’t work, it’s just you having fun. So if you complain, you are a horrible, ungrateful person.
If you’ve read the rest of the debunked myths, you know exactly why this is completely untrue.
It is okay to have bad days. It is okay be upset and/or angry those bad days. Pursuing your passion does not mean your life becomes all sunshine and rainbows. You will struggle and you will fall sometimes, but others need to know about this so they can support you and help you get on your feet again.
It is okay to complain about what you are doing.
But even in the worst of it, don’t forget to remember why this is your passion. Don’t forget why you fell in love with it in the first place, and why you want to pursue it.
And don’t forget to be grateful that there is something in your life you love so much.
Leanne Yong is the Managing Editor of Leaders in Heels, an author, and pursuing her passion has now led her to the job of Games Master at Next Level Escape. She loves watching women find and grow their passions, and helping them to dream and define a life they love through Leaders in Heels.