You’ve heard “follow your passion” plenty of times, but it’s not good advice. Here’s how to really make money from doing what you love.

How many times have you heard stories like these?

A woman loves making pottery, so she decides to open a little shop to sell her wares.

A man is passionate about writing, so he quits his job to focus on his first novel.

Then… wait for it…

Nothing happens.

Nothing. No customers, no readers, no clients. Zilch.

They return to the world of the “working dead” with their tails tucked between their legs and their egos bruised. But, worst of all, they’ve lost faith in the kind of world where they can make a living doing something they love.

But it didn’t have to be that way.

The hard truth about “following your passion”

We believe money will follow if we do what we love, but it’s a dangerous recommendation.

It makes sense that you’d make the most money when you do something you’re interested and invested in. When you bring your heart and soul to work, the work should earn you more than when you’re dragging yourself in every day.


As a career coach, I’ve seen it happen again and again. Clients get excited about their idea for a passion-based business. They start making plans, they mentally decorate their new offices and they wonder how their boss is going to take it when they’ve made enough money to quit. And they do all this without taking into account the biggest myth.

When it comes to earning money doing what you love, you have to remember: Right now, nobody cares about your passions.

It isn’t about you.

It isn’t about your passion.

It’s about your clients and customers: what you give to them, what you do for them and how they benefit from knowing you. You have to make them care about your passion so much they’ll pay you to do it. (Click here to Tweet this thought.)

The Hollywood Principle

Many people blindly follow their passion, believing their love for it will be enough to make them successful. But they fail to factor in what I call The Hollywood Principle.

The Hollywood Principle states that no matter how passionate you are about something, nobody cares about it simply because you do.

If you want clients or customers, you need to be concerned with why they should care about what you’re doing, even when you’re doing what you love.

People fleeing the corporate world — the world of 9-to-5, dictated eating and bathroom schedules — tend to equate a passion-based business with freedom. They want the freedom to be their own boss, the freedom to be in charge of their own time and the freedom to do whatever it is they love.

With this mindset, they throw caution to the wind and do what they love without regard for The Hollywood Principle. They pursue their venture with the love and compulsion characteristic of passions.

But it all goes horribly wrong because they forget to connect what they love to something others will care about.  They’re so engrossed in doing what they love and why it matters to them that they forget to look up and show others why they should care about it, too.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to contort your passion-based business into something it isn’t to find potential clients and customers. You’re not out to find any market need and fill it. That’s the old way of doing business, and also how you’ll end back up with something that feels like a “job.”

The real challenge is to persuasively communicate the gift of your passion, your mission and your unique value.

Your unique value

You’ve probably heard about unique value from the worlds of personal branding and job hunting.  But in this case, instead of unique value being about who you are and the value you offer, it’s about what you’re really here to do.

Are you an expert at making pretty, functional pottery, or are you helping people to experience something through your work?

Are you writing a great novel, or are you on a mission to make people think about an issue so profoundly meaningful to you it’s a part of who you are?

Unique value for passion-based workers is very close to the heart. It’s why you do what you do. It’s the heart and soul of who you are.

You can start looking for your unique value by knowing what you love to give so much you can’t help giving it (your mission). Once you’ve found that, it’s your job to make other people care about it, too. Don’t just expect that other people will “get it.” Show them why they should care.

A passion with a mission behind it is a world-changing force.

Your challenge

If you dream of doing work based on your passion, answer these unique value questions in the comments below:

Why do you do your passion?

What do you bring to the table that no one else does?

What would you love to contribute to the world?

Spend your time doing something you absolutely love, and move away from wasting your life on things that don’t matter to you. Now is your chance to define what matters and why others should care about it as much as you do.

Jessica Sweet, LICSW, is a life and career coach who can help you uncover your passions and make money doing work you love.If you hate your current job, but going off the grid and moving to Zimbabwe isn’t your idea of a good time, it’s time to do what you love in a way that fits your real life. Join Jessica at


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  2. jrandom421

    A few things to think about:
    1) Passion alone doesn’t pay the bills.. Unless you can persuade others to share your passion and pay money for it, your passion will never see the light of day as a self-sustaining business.
    2) Being your own boss is a myth. Unless you do something for yourself that you pay yourself for, your new bosses are your clients. Fail to do a good job for them, fail to deliver results that matter on time to their specifications, fail to give good service, and they’ll fire you by taking their money and business elsewhere.
    3) A question; Why must I earn a living by making my passion a self-sustaining business? Granted, we spend a lot of time at work and it helps to love what you do, but dealing with all the things around a business, like taxes, marketing, sales, accounting, office management, client management, and so on can kill a passion pretty quickly. Why not have a job you do well, and use the proceeds from it to fund your passion? It would let you pursue your passion free of the tyranny of attempting to monetize what you love to do.

    • christianmonk

      brilliant analysis. I love fitness training, coaching consumers on health and wellness and cycling training. Dept of Labor estimates trainers average in the mid forties with an increasing demand for trainers during the next five years. However, when I was a trainer, I spent 85% of my time marketing my business convincing clients to stop using gyms and train in my own gym, NOT training clients. I had to become my own web designer, banker, equipment clerk, etc. everything but train. I hated it.

      In 1989, I met an attorney by day/property investor/manager by night and started working for him for a five years. He is not a family court judge in Philly and I remember what he once said: “when I work in law, I am constantly looking at my clock, but when I am in real estate, I lose myself and my watch.”

      Fortunate for him, as a plaintiff litigation attorney, he was able to afford his passion for real estate (now worth over $12 million) when he won cases and funneled his profits into his real estate empire. If he weren’t a judge, he would quit practicing law today.

      For the rest of us, it should never be about following your bliss or passion, rather AFFORD your passion by doing something you are good at. I love farming and raising my own food but I am not going to start my own farm, however, I WILL work with other farmers, learn from them and even consider doing weekend work to learn more in order to grow my own more successfully.

  3. Jessica Sweet

    You make good points, and I agree with all of them.

    1. Passion alone doesn’t pay the bills – it’s my point exactly, and I think people get caught up in the enthusiasm of passion and forget that their passion – no matter how enchanted they are with their idea – will not pay the bills by itself. I know that from our vantage point it seems hard to believe that someone might forget this, but I’ve seen many people be “blinded by love” and need to be snapped out of it.

    2. This is true. It’s sort of splitting hairs, what we decide to call it, but at the end of the day, if we don’t do a good job our clients and customers WILL disappear as you say. I don’t think there is any job in the world – at least nothing I can think of at the moment, where you can self-generate income and not have to be accountable to someone else in this way. Not unless you know how to spin straw into gold!

    3. You’re right here too. Not everyone likes all aspects of being a business owner, and you must go into it being fully aware of the fact that starting your own business has benefits (setting your own schedule, for example) as well as drawbacks (you’re responsible for EVERYTHING). The good news is that some or all of these things might be outsourced to a trusted professional if you can afford it, leaving you to focus on your core passion. If you don’t want to wait to get to that point, and the benefits of owning your own business don’t outweigh the drawbacks, you might be better off finding a job that lets you focus on the core passion sooner.

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments!

  4. Cassie Nolan

    Great post, Jessica. It sort of reminds me of Todd Henry’s advice for people whom rely on their creativity to make a living: Stop trying to entertain yourself, and start serving your audience. He explains that often, the most successful creatives are less concerned with tackling projects that they, as artists, enjoy and find interesting at the moment (for example, a musician who plays only new material because he’s tired of his old hits–even though the crowd wants the opposite), and more concerned with providing value and delivering the products and services their customers really need. I know for me, this message was a big wake-up call, and changed the way I approach my blog and business.

    • Jessica Sweet

      Thank you Cassie. I just recently came across Todd Henry and ‘Die Empty’ though I can’t say I’m very familiar with his work yet. But yes, the ideas sound similar. I think the passionate entrepreneur is unaware that s/he is entertaining themselves, though that is what they’re doing – they’re pursuing it for the love of it. It’s that shift from passionate pursuit to business pursuit that’s critical to success. And I agree that it can be a huge wake-up call to people – and the thing that saves their passion-based business and allows them to continue to do what they love.

      • MdlGrndDynamo

        Thank you, Jessica. I believe there is no one right path in being a creative. For each person, it looks different. We need the Rationals, Idealists, Guardians, and Artisans (David Kiersey reference). All have creative potential. All have a place in the ecosystem that is life.

        I do believe that circumstances (family needs, financials, long term outlook, health etc) and a realistic assessment of your skills (not just talent but also business acumen) should be considered if you are entering into a new business or if making a large career change. Why? It’s smart and responsible to do so because what you do impacts *other people*. I love the kindness movement and the related yoga and follow your bliss inclinations but I choose to draw from those as inspiration not OverRELY on those. Movements often are a reaction to stifling aspects of culture or misguided political activism and unfortunately can fall prey to extremism. The thoughtful answer to negative circumstance often lies in the middle and requires discipline, planning (yet flexibility), and can produce a beautiful contentment in life. Happy is a moment (although worthy, valuable). General contentment is a great place in life and often reflective of those who solve problems, work hard, and provide to others. Satisfaction comes not from thinking less of yourself but rather focusing on your self less.

        If your circumstances are such that you can be more of a pure creative and not have as many pressures and this fits your personality well, why not if that’s what is written on your heart? If you are able to take care of yourself and those with whom you share life, Great. If this isn’t meant for you, that’s ok too. Or the day may come that it is.. or you may be able to work toward change. Just saying following your passions is the answer is not enough. It may sound great in a facebook post, the instagrams du jour, or a motivational lecture but not every life or circumstance looks the same. One may have heavy responsibilities as a biz leader and much pressure in today’s economy for instance but feel so rewarded by being fair, an employer, taking care of her family, successful in meeting customer needs while balancing books while another may want to spend time writing away the days and is able to do so. Both are OK.

        Unfortunately I’ve seen too many problems (crime, even) go unresolved or created because some want to always be “positive” and “blissful” (which is a misleading notion because it is impossible to attain constant bliss. often what happens is passive aggression with those who try). We can be thoughtful, discerning, and serious, deriving meaning from responsibility to others, even grappling at times to solve issues that inevitably arise, AND having “happy.” It’s just that Larry and Sally’s contented lives can look very different from one another.

        • Jessica Sweet

          MdlGrndDynamo Thank you for your thoughtful response.

          To it, I will say I agree.

          I think that your statement, that “general contentment is a great place in life and often reflective of those who solve problems, work hard, and provide to others” is true.

          Overall, I think that the point of my article is to draw these two groups – the “hard workers” and the “blissfuls” closer together. One can imagine the “blissfuls” writing the day away (as you say) and while that’s ok, it might not be the best thing because their life does impact other people and their ability or inability to earn is effected if they live in their bliss vacuum.

          On the flip side, there are those who feel they must work hard, pay their dues, and disregard their feelings about the work they do, as if their feelings, passions, and inclinations are beside the point.

          I think neither group has it right and instead the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

          There have been many cries of “live your passion” plastered everywhere. And that falls too far in one direction, but as always, the answer is somewhere in between.

          • MdlGrnd

            Yes Jessica – somewhere in between, as with so much in life.

            I do think however there are special places reserved for those who are called with every neuron in their body, to be creators. Their temperament and intelligence insist on their artistic goals, whether their creativity is in performing or visual arts or to be a masterful business executive. However, I believe these are the smaller percentages of people (personality types + intelligence + nurture + other nature influences).

            This does not take away from the majority, who have their own gifts and also contribute in a multitude of ways to society. I think culture often seeks and overemphasizes the artistists and leaders however. Fame seems desireable, but the wise know better — that all types are valuable and if we didn’t have those filling the many roles in the pillars of society, where would we be? We need the more xtreme artists for our souls, dreaming big, innovating, AND all the rest to
            do their important work and keep relationships strong. We learn from each other and keep us all in balance, taking influence from each other.

            The problems arise when we abandon ship too quickly on responsibilities, believing life should be all-bliss-all-the-time. Hardships happen, sometimes extreme ones. And sometimes making a shift takes time and we don’t want to hurt people unnecessarily. And sometimes we realize that what we have is much better than we realized, with some simple mental shifts. The possibilities for joy, satisfaction, and meaning are endless (we all have creative potential) and sometimes come in the form of some very small yet powerful aspects of life.

          • Mdl

            Sorry bout the typos. 😉

          • MidlGround

            Just one last little thought: xtreme creatives naturally get attention. That is necessary because there are fewer of them and what they do makes powerful statements or inspires, but what I meant was that we value that so much that we tend to undervalue or sometimes misunderstand others who are not these creatives.

            Sorry, I know I’ve moved beyond the scope of your article a bit. I agree with all you’ve said, just additionally carving out a space for these more rare individualists.

          • Jessica Sweet

            Thank you for your insights! We need everyone, of course. I just want the world to be a place where we truly can do what we love and make a living at it, not be forced into doing work we hate, or starve!

    • Michael Barata

      To use your example, when a musician plays music for the adulation of the audience first rather than creating and playing something authentic and reflective of their unique gift, isn’t the musician no longer following their passion?

      Though the path is not all peachy, I believe people have more difficulty discovering their passion and having the courage to pursue it than monetizing it.

      Don’t you think people who are truly dedicated to going after their dreams and following their bliss understand the effort needed to execute it? But the challenges are not so intimidating because passion is the fuel to overcome. I think passion is being undervalued as the prime driver to enjoy AND succeed.

      • jrandom421

        And this is where Jessica says,

        “When it comes to earning money doing what you love, you have to remember: Right now, nobody cares about your passions.

        It isn’t about you.

        It isn’t about your passion.

        It’s about your clients and customers: what you give to them, what you do for them and how they benefit from knowing you. You have to make them care about your passion so much they’ll pay you to do it”
        And I talked about this tyranny of attempting to monetize your passion. It can work, but it’s a risk to “bet the house payment” on, because you can’t guarantee you’ll ever earn enough to feed, clothe and house yourself and your family.

        • Michael Barata

          But honestly, if you did something based on the perceptions of what others thought, you are stripping away authenticity for status quo approval. Steve Jobs always said the customer doesn’t know what they want until you give it to them. Therefore, your passion may be that new discovery for someone or many more in a world of 7 billion people.

          Alan Watts:

          “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ~ Joseph Campbell

          It’s that nobody cares about your passion, but rather, people are not aware of your passion. Heck, how many people know about their own passion? Following your passion leads to you connecting with and sharing your story. Of course, understanding the business end of business is necessary too.

          As if a 9-5 job is a guarantee?

          • jrandom421

            Just because you’re passionate about something, doesn’t mean that people will share your passion and pay you money for it. You can follow your bliss all you like, but who feeds, clothes and houses your family in the mean time, before your new discovery spreads worldwide and people throw billions of dollars your way because they love it so much?
            At least with a 9-5 job, I’ve got some money coming in, and if I’m lucky, I’ll have or be able to afford healthcare for myself and family. And If it goes away, I can always get another job to help support myself and family.
            Far too many of these passion followers believe, literally that “do what you love, the money will follow”, without any kind of sense or inclination to do any kind of learning about business of making their dream real, or “prostituting their art”, for something as pedestrian as cold hard cash.
            I’ve seen far too many of my friends, quit their jobs to follow their bliss, putting all their heart and soul (as well as all their financial resources) into fulfilling their dream, only to see it crash and burn. Still believing in their passion, they keep trying and failing, thinking that their passion can’t fail, it can only be failed by those who just can’t see the possibilities. At that point, finding themselves hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions in debt, with their families gone, they’ll go back to the 9-5 job, but still willing to do it all again.
            I’m not saying not to follow your passion, but remember that passion won’t pay the mortgage, grocer or the doctor bills. Have some kind of contingency plan in place to take care of those who depend on you.

          • Michael Barata

            And just because someone chooses to be sheople (justified as responsible) does not mean they will be happy or financially secure. I also mentioned the importance of understanding the workings of business v blindly going after one’s passion.

            Following your passion doesn’t necessarily mean becoming an entrepreneur either. Like the high school teacher who wants to work in graphic arts (not start their own biz, but be in the field). Or the customer service rep who yearns to be an accountant.

            I believe following your bliss can be achieved many ways.

          • jrandom421

            Thank you for clarifying your view of us who only want to do what we do well and to take care of those who depend on us as “sheople”.
            If taking care of those who depend on us, doing what we do well, and being “responsible” is not following some passion, I guess I’ll be glad to be a “sheople” while I watch my family grow and mature in health, safety and security.

          • Michael Barata

            I applaud people who love what they do AND love their family (to start a family is another decision rooted in what you believe you can do – no guarantees).

            I believe we both agree people can have as much abundance in their lives as they open themselves up to receive. But the notion if someone doesn’t have every little detail figured out they should not move forward, is very limiting. Life changes. The past is over and the future is but a concept….live in the now.

            I ask my psych students every semester, if the world closed its eyes, would you continue to make the same decisions about your life? The overwhelming answer continues to be, “No!” Some are where they are because mommy and daddy told them, because society conditions them, because friends pressure them. I believe the more you conquer your fears and go after that burning in your heart, the more rewarding (feeling not material) life can be. Is the 9-5 for everyone? Is being an entrepreneur for everyone? I hope we both can agree, no. But that’s my point. We should encourage and lift people up to discover their own truth.

            Another great quote from Joseph Campbell: “Don’t do what daddy says – because daddy only has one interest in mind for you and that is your security and if you bargain away your life for security now you will never find your bliss”

            Also, here is a great TedTalk from Larry Smith. In it, he explains how people sometimes use human relationships (spouse, kin, children) as excuses for not pursuing one’s dreams > Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career:

            PS I truly enjoy and am grateful for you e-chatting with me.

          • jrandom421

            I come from a different background than many of your students. My grandfather came to America as an immigrant at 12. He worked as a boiler tender until he married my grandmother. He then became a mechanic, working at almost anything, while raising 7 kids, and sending all to college. He didn’t “open himself to abundance”, he carved it out with his two hands, his mind and his tools..
            My father graduated law school summa cum laude just in time to receive Executive Order 9066, sending him and my mother to Manzanar.Not much chance to find bliss in an internment camp. He volunteered for service in the 442nd RCT and was sent to Europe. Coming back home with 2 Silver Stars and 3 Purple Hearts, the country was so grateful for his service, they denied him his citizenship. Unable to take the bar exam at that time, he worked hard to become a businessman, selling consumer electronics, as he watched the guys he tutored throughout law school become judges and managing partners of big law firms. The government didn’t restore his citizenship until I went to Vietnam. If he was ever bitter about not being able to do what he loved and was so good at, while seeing guys he was so much better than, succeed wildly at it, he never said anything. Not much of a chance to follow your bliss when you’re working 18 hour days to get a business off the ground to feed, house and clothe your family.
            My point is this: following your bliss us a luxury for the well off. Those of us starting with little or nothing don’t have that luxury.

          • Michael Barata

            I appreciate you sharing the story of your father. My father worked hard to excel and provide for his young family and then passed away suddenly at the age of 37. My Mom never re-married, so she had to adjust and overcome on the fly.

            So, see we all have our pasts. We’ve enjoyed highs and endured lows. But its all in the past. Times have changed. You stated you did not believe your father was bitter, yet it seems like you may be. Of course, I could be wrong.

            Doing what you love or following your passion is not a luxury, it’s a calling. You connect with yourself, discover your gifts, and share with the world. I see it as a statement of who you are v. who they told me to be. So, no matter what it is or how it looks, if you are doing something because you feel deeply connected to it, it reflects your authenticity, and brings you joy = BLISS.

          • jrandom421

            Not bitter, but I’ve seen far too many good friends “follow their bliss” and attempt to monetize their passion into the next Google, Facebook, Apple, and so on. They’ve tossed aside anything that they considered a drag on their aspirations, to include, friends, family, and their health. A few have had some measure of success, but have lost it in the recession. A few have managed to stay afloat, but have regretted the cost. Still others have crashed and burned, in debt to the tune of hundreds of thousands to a few million dollars. Of those, some have returned to work as “sheople”, grinding away at 9-5 jobs like the rest of us. Others are broke, alone, and really bitter towards investors who had no vision, the public who had no appreciation of the revolutionary benefits of their passion, and the family who lacked the faith and tenacity to wait it out until the money started rolling in. I’m just sounding a cautionary note.

          • jrandom421

            An example of what I was getting at when I said “following your bliss us a luxury for the well off. Those of us starting with little or nothing don’t have that luxury.”
            A friend of mine divorced her abusive husband. Not only was she awarded custody of their 2 infant children, she was also awarded custody of the 4 older children from his previous marriages. The child support disappeared along with him to Bermuda. What was she to do? In her case, she poured her heart, mind, spirit and life into raising 6 children, fighting CPS to keep her family intact, as well as working 3 jobs simultaneously to keep them all housed, fed, clothed, safe, healthy and in school. Not much time to follow your bliss in this case.
            20 years later, the kids are grown and on their own, but things haven’t turned out as well for her. The years of working so huch and denying herself the care that she had to give to her kids has left her physically disabled. Her fights with the system to keep her kids healthy, safe and secure have left her both exhausted and cynical, as well as on the edge of poverty. How’s she going to “follow her bliss” now?
            She has no regrets about the sacrifices she made for her children, but she sometimes wistfully wonders if she might have gotten a little slack to make one of her smaller dreams come true.

          • Michael Barata

            Please, watch this movie: Finding Joe:

            Everything I’m trying to speak to seems to be not getting through…the trials and tribulations of life are real and different for everyone. It’s how we respond to them that makes the difference.

          • MiddleGround

            Descriptors like sheople and bitter probably got in the way of seeing how much you actually AGREE. Questioning/curiosity might have been a better approach if we are evaluating whete someone is coming from.

            Bias – such a powerful force we should be mindful of…

          • Michael Barata

            You are correct. Open mindedness is essential to discovering truth. I do not wish to block that.

            I am bias about the belief people can either spend [real] time discovering who they are and pursue those gifts or allow others to do that for them. Conditioning and fear tend to create barriers for people to understand and recognize they are not here to do what was done.

            We tell children to follow their dreams all the time. I ask, why do we do that if we don’t mean it.

          • MGrnd

            Gotcha. I don’t disagree with your ideas. Just got to be so present, so aware, so mindful that we don’t trip over our own idealism. I say that because I know fast we can go from good intentions to crossing lines based on bias. Maybe go back over the commenter’s entries and see where a question might be inserted to hear more of the storyline and perspective? For fun? ;). I think you seem driven to do good and so I say this to be helpful. We all are guilty of bias. It is why therapists will often subject themselves to their own tune ups. Smart.

            Journey on…

            On kids & dreams. Yes, partly fear and dreams. Partly resources and lack of affordable pportunities outside of overpriced colleges. Fortunately some alternatives are popping up for younger ones, like charter schools, but finding balanced opportunities (ones that integrate arts and social-emotional growth) are hard to come by for the average family. Parents yes can influence creativity and self reflection but how many know how? (This is where a creative leader, researcher, program developer, blogger, etc, can help over time.

            For young adults I would like to see more apprenticeships and ways they can develop healthy, creative, meaningful, and reasonably secure lives that make a positive contribution.

            Can’t ignore however that those who truly have been ignoring responsibilities to themselves, others, and the planet have been creating some pretty stifling consequences for the rest. Yes you can become a great adaptor, hardy, and work with what you got, but the amount of stress and obstacles can be overwhelming on people, society…the earth. We are literally changing genetics (epigenetics) all the time. If you are the parent of an extreme autistic, a spouse deployed, restrictive financials, and an unsupportive school system, you can make the most of it and find meaning in it, but ultimately it’s exhausting. More and more people are dealing with these types of epigenetic consequences today.

            Those of us who don’t have those issues but recognize them have a huge responsibility to affect the world in a positive way so more have the opportunity to enjoy a creative, contented, sometimes joyful life. From helping our children to grow well and be compassionate, to helping neighbors, to smart-activism, new systems for healthy societies, etc. It is simple in some ways (and for some people) but this conversation can also become quite complex, requiring extraordinary connection of hearts + intellect.

          • MdlGRND

            Oh sorry, not “fear and dreams”… should read “fear and conditioning”

          • jrandom421

            So what should my friend have done differently? She had no education beyond high school. She’s 21 years old and been awarded custody of 6 children 10, 8, 7, 6, 4, 2, and 1. Her ex-husband had gone off to Bermuda, where US law can’t touch him, so no child support is coming. She’s the sole adult and support for these kids, unless she lets CPS take them and adopt them out.
            Maybe she would have been better off to let that happen, but she decided that no government agency would break up her family. So she started working 3 jobs at once, fighting the system to keep her family intake, fighting to keep them housed, fed, healthy and safe. She learned to enjoy getting 3 hours of sleep a night. She felt she wouldn’t have been much of a mother if she hadn’t fought and worked so hard for so long for her children.
            Again, not much time or energy to “follow your bliss” when you are caring for 6 children, worrying about their health and safety, fighting to keep them housed, clothed and fed adequately, and fighting the system intent on taking them away at all costs for the next 20 years.
            In this life, bliss is finally getting Section 8 housing subsidies and food stamps after a 7 year wait.
            You never addressed the question: How do you “follow your bliss” and “open yourself to abundance” when you’re homeless and on the street with six very hungry children?
            I would think survival takes precedence, but I’m curious on what you think the alternatives there are.

          • Michael Barata

            I’d first be interested in hearing and better understanding her story. Why no education after high school? Why start a family? Does she feel burdened or overwhelmed or is she grateful and happy?

            I often wonder if the idea of truly connecting with oneself, discovering your unique gifts, and following your bliss with all your everything were to be introduced and nurtured early and often if people would make different decisions compared to the continued message of “get an education, get a job” mantra? As you characterized, bliss can be many different things to people. And being open to abundance is having a positive, grateful, welcoming mindset – a good thing, I believe.

            And much like one of the problems with Maslow’s pyramid, it is difficult for one to self-actualize when uncertain about meeting basic needs such as food and housing. So, I empathize with your friend. I also believe your friend has a bliss to follow and the ability to be awesome at it. But only SHE can define what that is and make it happen.

            Herein lies the issue, which I believe to be our biggest disconnect. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems you believe a person’s circumstances can hinder or preclude some from following their bliss. Whereas, I believe people don’t make enough time, effort to discover their bliss earlier in their life. For that reason, it may take longer or not happen at all. However, the decision is there to be made – just as other decisions are made in one’s life which carry circumstances (celebratory or challenging).

            So, I see much value for a person’s life and benefit for others around them should they truly (no matter how challenging) commit to discover and follow their bliss, because it’s their bliss.

          • jrandom421

            has given me permission to tell most of her story.

            Why no education
            after high school? Mainly because she was kicked out at 16 and finished
            her GED while living on the streets. Why start a family? Because her husband at
            the time repeatedly sabotaged her birth control methods and raped her when she
            refused sex when she was fertile. He was protected by the blue code of
            silence, so nothing ever happened to him concerning her. Who wouldn’t be burdened and overwhelmed being the sole
            caretaker of two infants, and 4 older children from his previous marriages? She
            finally manages to divorce him, and is awarded sole custody of all 6 children
            and an appropriate amount of child support. Upon leaving the court house, he boarded a
            plane to Bermuda, where US law can’t touch him, and remains there to this day.

            So here she is,
            alone, with only a GED education, no money, no home. What is she supposed to do
            with 6 hungry children? So she gets 3 jobs, works up to 19 hours a day, at
            minimum wage, and fights to keep her family intact, safe, healthy, secure,
            housed, fed and clothed. She does this for 20 years. She sacrifices almost
            everything, her health, her food, her “bliss” for her kids. What mother wouldn’t,
            if they had to?

            What was the passion
            and bliss that she wanted to follow? She wanted to be an astronaut. Kind of
            hard to get the education and experience necessary to go into space when you
            don’t know if you’ll have a place to live next week, if the kids will have
            anything for dinner tonight, or is CPS is going to swoop in to snatch the kids
            and imprison her for child neglect. Riding the shuttle at that point is a
            pointless fantasy, without any basis in reality.

            The kids are
            grown and gone to their lives now, but she’s been crippled by the injuries she’s
            suffered while working, the health issues she’s neglected so her kids could get
            care, and the beatings she suffered from her ex-husband. She has a place to
            live, and a fixed income, but with only enough left over to afford McDonald’s once
            a week. Her wheelchair is being fixed, because she can’t afford a new one. So
            she’s housebound and only has contact with the outside world when people come

            She’s exhausted
            and cynical, having been on the receiving end of the worst of humanity for
            decades. She says that I, my wife and family have been the only bright spot in
            her life for the past 12 years. I’ve tried to encourage her to go back to
            school, but she’s pointed out that she’ll never go to space, and it’s a waste
            for someone who is likely to die in the near future. So how does she “open
            herself to abundance”, when she’s seen so little of it in her life? How does
            she “follow her bliss” when she can’t even follow her cat around her apartment?
            What is there in life for her left?

            I have never seen
            anyone who fought so long and so hard against everything in her life to raise,
            protect and care for their children. I pray you never have to sacrifice
            yourself so totally for your children.

          • Michael Barata

            Though unfortunate, challenging things do happen to really good people. Again, I empathize with her.

            Maybe not an astronaut….maybe work at NASA, maybe at a museum, maybe teach in the field, maybe write a blog about her story and interest, maybe? I believe real options exist, should she be interested…she may not be and I respect that.

            I believe in the beauty of possibility…

          • jrandom421

            “Though unfortunate, challenging things do happen to really good people”
            Challenging and unfortunate?! CHALLENGING AND UNFORTUNATE?!?! Is that all you’ve got to say about her story?!That is perhaps one of the most condescending things I’ve ever heard to describe her life!
            Horrifying, soul-crushing, wickedly unjust do better to capture it, but still fall short of fully describing it. And after all that, you think she can “follow her bliss” and “open herself to abundance”? Apparently you and her exist in totally different realities that have no point of contact with each other.
            “I believe in the beauty of possibility” What possibilities are left for her? What beauty is there in possibilities that can never be realized? Again, it’s readily apparent you’ve never had to fight and struggle just to survive against a world intent on crushing the life and soul out of you, like she has.
            Here’s a question for you: What would you do to help another young woman in the situation she found herself in, with no education, no home, no support, no money, and the sole parent of 6 children? How would you help her? Or would you just say, “follow your bliss” and “open yourself to abundance” and be on your merry way? Would you tell her to give up her children and treat them as she has been treated? Would you tell her to sell herself to get the money she needed? I’m curious on what you would do, because I’m not convinced by anything you’ve posted, that you’d do anything meaningful to help

          • Michael Barata

            You asked for my perspective and you obviously disagree with it, but wow, you seem to be implying I should think as negatively of her and her situation as you do.

            Do you want me to call her life horrific, a failure and that she has no reason to live? I’m sorry. I can’t.

            I would ask her what SHE wants or needs and try to help in any way I could. And yes, this would include focusing on the good she has in her life, like life itself and the relationships with her children and others and her interests, skills, talents.

            That is why I believe in the beauty of possibility. I believe I see more in her (potential) than you do. I hope she sees more in herself than you do. I would not focus on what has happened (cause its in the past, its over, can’t change it) and not fearing or predicting the future (only a concept) nor would I only dwell on the tragedies and challenges of her life as she must have had some positives SHE would speak to.

            I am not a therapist or a counselor, but as a friend, I would try to help her realize she can make a difference.

          • jrandom421

            We’ll just be “sheople” and get her wheelchair repaired, her cat to the vet and pay for treatment and medications, grocery shop for her, get her to the doctor, fix her house, cook meals for her and help her fight the system that still continues to try and take her housing, disability, healthcare and food.

            So you can see more in her potential than I can, right? So what potential do you see that would allow her to “follow her bliss” and “open herself to abundance” that isn’t tied to a winning lottery ticket?
            Positives? The only thing she has to hang on to, is the fact all 6 kids are grown and on their own. Two are on the opposite coast, and the rest are international, in Thailand, Peru, South Africa, and Germany. She gets a Christmas card from each of them every other year, but hasn’t seen any of them for over 17 years. It’s as if they were so embarrassed on how they were raised and how they grew up, that they couldn’t get away far enough soon enough. No matter. She believes they’re doing well, and I don’t know any of them, so I can’t say for sure.
            I asked her your question on what she wanted and needed. She promptly replied, “To be 17 again, with a uncrippled, pain free body”. “If not that, how about the $450,000 in back child support her ex-husband owes me?” Not anything anyone can do about that, is there?
            Since us “sheople” can’t give her what she wants or needs, we do our best to help out with what we can, without being vacuously “positive” (“Don’t say that! I’ve gotten my fill of that “positive” BS in the 80s!”)
            It is what it is. Trying to spin it as anything other than the tragedy and heartache that it is, disrespects and denigrates her hard work, sacrifice, and tenacity. Any talk about “following her bliss” and “opening herself to abundance” just sounds so insulting to her, because everything she’s seen and experienced, has told her that those concepts are nothing more than, as she puts it, “the feel-good fantasies of elitist well-off talking heads who never had to deal with real life starting off with nothing from Mommy and Daddy and struggling day to day just to survive when the world is trying its best to kill you and your children in the slowest, most humiliating and painful way possible.”

          • Michael Barata

            Well, I guess you will go on being you and her being her and me being me.

          • jrandom421

            You still haven’t answered the question on what you would do for another young woman in a similar situation. I guess that’s answer enough. Thanks a lot

          • Michael Barata

            But I have answered it many times. You don’t seem to agree or respect it. I would remain positive – for the simple fact LIFE itself is amazing. Of course, the choices made and the experiences of life will differ.

            I would try to help connect her to services, assistance, therapy, career counseling, life coaching, and a support group of people lift her up and nurture her to OVERCOME – not lose sight of her gifts.

            There is no wand to be waived and the individual must be committed to overcoming, growing, learning, and persevering – no matter if the person has a wealth of resources or not…it’s about resourcefulness. Will. Belief.

            All you have done is trumpeted her tragedies. Is there nothing in her life she is grateful for?

            You can learn more about me here:

          • jrandom421

            Jessica, what are your thoughts on this?

          • pedro R.

            wow, dude calm down. I know her story is heart breaking, but if you put most of your time, energy and resources into focusing on the negative things in life (which we all go through) you won’t get any far and won’t be able to follow your bliss. here’s an example that came to my mind after reading the story of the girl you described. J.K. Rowling……she was also barely surviving with a little baby to support and yet she followed her passion with all her energy, time and resources. it wasn’t easy, but it was possible. if she didn’t do that, we wouldn’t know harry potter today. have a nice day 🙂

          • jrandom421

            Well, you won’t have to worry any more about me focusing on the negative things in her life. She died 3 weeks ago. And the comparison to J.K. Rowling is invalid. The UK has a far more extensive welfare system than Arizona. And she wasn’t let alone with 6 children at 21 with less than a high school education, either.

          • john

            well, at least she had an option for the government to take care of their children. She chose not to do so.

            In other countries that simply doesnt exist.

          • luis

            I find it hard to believe you USA people think a 9 to 5 job sucks your soul away… i mean, do you really leave work at 5pm?? its like you stille have 5 to 6 hours per day to do what you love!!!! you dont need to leave the job to do it, and if you can´t, with all that free time, well, guess what? its not a passion at all!
            Come to Mexico. Some people (me included), regularly put up half-day work days, that is, 12 hours per day! Those are our working conditions right now and still manage to do side jobs or activities that we really love, in my case, writing and drawing. I couldnt care less if people like it, nor i intend to become rich with it. I do it because i love it, eveything else i do allows me to fund it without having to compromise to anyone.
            You should take advantage of your economic conditions instead of whining so damn much!

          • Jessica Sweet

            I think it’s about listening for feedback. You can’t be in a “passion vacuum” just doing your thing and hoping that someday your work will be discovered. At the same time, you can’t just do what others ask for because your genius never is revealed. There’s a fine line that must be walked – delivering YOUR passion in a way that makes them want for more.

          • Michael Barata

            You seem to take both sides here. I don’t put following one’s passion in a magical box, but I do not believe it’s unattainable either. I think “discovering” one’s passion is where people need to start. Take time to learn about what moves you, ignites your inner flame…this can be in an entrepreneurial sense or working in an organization. It doesn’t matter as long as you actually love what you do.

            Once the passion is discovered, of course effort, responsibility, and accountability all come into play.

          • Jessica Sweet

            Hi Michael – I’m not sure what you mean by taking both sides. I believe that when you find your passion IF your goal is to earn money from it, you have to appeal to your clients & customers wants and needs in addition to your own passion. Going too far in the direction of your own passion puts you in danger of being a “starving artist” and too far in the direction of your clients & customers needs and you extinguish your flame. It’s a delicate balance.

          • jose

            i still dont understand why people keep citing Steve Jobs. Nobody seems to accept the fact that he was one of a kind; no matter his sensible words, if people think they will be able to replicate what he did… well, good luck!

          • Michael Barata

            Do you not believe YOU are one of a kind?

            I believe in Steve Jobs’ philosophy > don’t be what the world tells you to be…be YOU! Follow your dreams. Be creative.

        • Jessica Sweet

          Right. I wouldn’t suggest jumping right into something new (passion or not) that you weren’t sure you could make pay the bills and risk your financial stability on. Starting your own business often takes time (no matter how much or little you love it).

          • jrandom421

            So it sounds like my friend, no matter what her passion and bliss was, didn’t have much of a choice that wasn’t self centered and selfish.
            And now, with the kids grown and living their own lives, she’s disabled, exhausted, cynical and in poverty. What choices does she have now?
            This is what i meant that “following your bliss” is for the well-off. When you’re fighting for survival, that tends to take precedence. Again, it’s kind of hard to “follow your bliss” and “open yourself to abundance” when you’re broke, homeless and have 6 hungry children with you. If anyone said “follow your bliss” to me in those circumstances, I probably would have punched them bloody for being so totally clueless.

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  6. Michael Barata

    1) Because it’s my passion
    2) Me. (no one else can be me)
    3) Inspiration

  7. rocinante

    The other side of passion is even more exasperating. I was blessed to find a job that I really loved. It was my dream job and my passion. The company folded and I was able to find another job doing the same thing but the company was clearly not interested. And so I ended up chasing this passion for the better part of 5 years and it was a waste of time.

  8. The Hard Truth About Following Your Passion to ...

    […] You've heard “follow your passion” plenty of times, but it's not good advice. Here's how to really make money from doing what you love.  […]

  9. Swiss brands mojo

    This is interesting and truth, I know from experience. But it’s not a message to give up, but to try harder in your passions.

    When i first started working in my real passion (digital animation) i thought that the quote “if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life” was totally applied to me, but i was wrong. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it wasn’t my passion, because it was!!. The real problem was that i was a 8-5 employee and the sleep – eat – work – sleep routine was killing me.

    If you do your passion because you love it is great, but the problem with being an employee in your passion is that you have to do it even when you don’t feel like doing it. Sometimes you just want to lay down on bed all day long and do nothing, sometimes you don’t even want SEX!!, so for me a real definition of passion would be something you love to do, but you only have to do it when you want, that kind of freedom is what i want.

    Don’t give up in your dreams mates, follow them but think carefully on how to do it.

    Ruben. Site:

  10. jrandom421

    Well, the friend that I was discussing in this thread died yesterday. She “followed her bliss” and departed this world filled with nothing but pain and suffering for her.. I guess she just didn’t “open herself to abundance”, which never materialized in her life. And now “believing in possibilities” is moot for her.

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  12. KBOB555

    how convoluted this has become..stop writing and lets do.. Passion can’t be found in your head
    because it lives in your heart and logic…. does not apply. If your house is in order or even if
    not…we live only once-shoot for your star ..All great and not so great things both big and small were a creation of either necessity or passion..I would venture to say both. Even its writing, skydiving, helping others, whatever it might be that moves you…. Part time, as a hobby, as a calling, for
    you…do you and live.

    There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

    Nelson Mandela

    There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.

    Nelson Mandela


  13. jrandom421

    ““Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is an unmerited privilege, a sign of that person’s socioeconomic class.”

    As I have always said, doing what you love is a luxury for those who can afford it.

  14. Kyle

    Why do you do your passion?

    I snowboard because it brings me joy. It removes all fears, anxieties and worries
    I have of the past and future and puts me directly in the present moment. There’s
    no other feeling in the world, that I’ve experienced and like so much, than the
    one of carving through a powdery slope with the sole intention to just enjoy
    the moment. It brings me peace, clarity and euphoria. I love being in the
    mountains as well. The fresh air, the gorgeous view, the unexplainable beauty
    of everything that surrounds me.

    What do you bring to the table that no one else does?

    I have a deep seated root in taking interest in other people’s lives. I’m happy, so everyone else should be happy too. This here is where my strong social skills actually originate from: a deep sincerity for the well-being of others. I hold an average understanding of social psychology and I’m fairly good at reading people. I hold a solid frame of my own reality that I find others often fall into.

    What would you love to contribute to the world?

    In a word, joy. If I could make everyone feel as happy as I do when I’m snowboarding there probably wouldn’t be a single war on the face of the planet. Everyone would be just too God damn happy. There wouldn’t be any greed, jealousy, anger, resentment, regrets, or negativity of any kind. People would be in the moment, giddy to be alive, Zen. I want to make the world a better place by allowing people to fully appreciate what they really have.

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  16. zeina issa

    A piece of advice you often hear
    when it comes to being successful is to do what you love. So, how do you
    find your passion? Here are some pointers from the team at

  17. aweleaders

    its not for everyone , that’s your experience , we all have different experiences, this is not just my passion its my life, …. now you see the difference.

  18. On What Terms Do You Set Your Priorities?

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  19. Loving Your Work is Hard Work | Praxis

    […] The Hard Truth About Following Your Passion to Do Work You Love […]

  20. Simon Somlai

    No-one cares how much you know untill they know how much you care – Theodore Roosevelt. Not achieving the freedom I deserve is not acceptable.

  21. The difference between passion and purpose and how it affects your job search | Idealist Careers

    […] looking for any sort of career advice, it’s likely you’ve heard a certain suggestion before: Pursue your passion! In this economy, you’ll barely make any money no matter what you do, so why not do something […]

  22. Rachel Pryor

    Ha – this is really interesting Jessica – and close to my heart – I’m a career coach too.

    It’s a brave thing to say – that nobody actually cares about your passions. And i want to dig a bit deeper there and say that it’s likely that people have actually told you what your value is, around your passions. For example, if you love to bake and no one has made a special detour in order to be at your home at tea time, maybe you shouldn’t be pursuing baking as a career….

    So listening to what people DO think you’re really special at – things where you light up when you’re doing them – is essential too.

    Lots to think about. Thanks

  23. Chris

    This article is featured in our new eBook at as well as – you guessed it – 49 other business articles. With chapters including Minimize Risk, Legal and Money.

  24. Lucas Boulderguard

    I hope you’re not passionate about being a career coach, because you’re not every good at it. This is among the worst advice I have read. It has its place in context, but completely ignores the other side of the equations. Yes, people who follow their passions are going to have a tough road ahead of them. They’re going to have to adapter and improvise. They know that already. You start off with a business selling green dots, but figure out that red dots are all the rage. You don’t get to figure that out, unless you’re in the green dot business. The beauty is that you can make changes, and take the long road (like you would in any career). But the majority of people I have met truly hate their jobs, and they stay in them because they’re afraid. That’s no way to go through life. Your clients are suicide cases waiting to happen. Who’d want to go through life like that? You should quit at career counseling, because you suck at it. Michael Barta’s the only one on here that’s talking sense.

  25. Ccan

    In The Attractor Factor, Dr. Joe Vitale cites a study where a
    group of 1,500 people were given the option of joining two groups.
    Group A was a group of people who were going to pick a career they
    believed was going to be a practical way to make a lot of money and then
    they were going to follow their passions after they made enough money.

    1,255 people joined Group A.

    Group B was a group of people who were going to pick a career that
    they were interested in and passionate about and just trust that the
    money would come. Only 245 people joined Group B.

    20 years later there were 101 millionaires out of the 1,500 people
    who signed up for the study. 100 of the millionaires came from group B:
    the group of people who followed their passions and just trusted that
    the money would come.

    Only 1 out of the 1,255 people who picked a career because they
    believed it was a practical way to make a living actually became a

  26. Tamara Pauline

    market-driven drivel…

  27. Kim

    I enjoyed this article very much. However, work is work; why do we feel the need to define who we are through how we make a living?? If someone works a 40 hr week, why can’t their nights and weekends be filled with art, music, reflecting and spending time with family?? I’m concerned about this world that’s supposed to be full of innovators!! Not everyone is a godamn innovator, and for good reason I might add. Again, thank you for the article, I just felt the need to share my thoughts.

  28. Thorsten Albers

    Hi guys,

    i think we interprete it wrong.
    IF you do what you don´t like, it may pay your bills, but not more
    If you do what you love to do, then your chance to become one of the best is far higher, and if you are one of the best, doesnt matter what, you will make money, even if you lead big “pottery” communities and make money with that, but for that you need to be one of best.

    IF you are passioned about something but too lazy to go further and be inventive , than, nothing will happened

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