Confession: I Don’t Have a Passion

holly greg drunkThe other day, I was having an in-depth conversation with a friend.  And, it had been a while.  After all, we both have kids, a home to take care of, and jobs that keep us fairly busy most of the time.  Anyway, we talked about all kinds of things.  Kids.  Marriage.  Money.  Then, all of a sudden, she brought up a topic that I try to steer clear from whenever I can.

“What are your dreams?” she asked.  “What is your passion?”

“Ummmmmm…….” 

“You know,” she said.  “You’re supposed to figure out what you’re passionate about and turn it into your career or something.”

I thought for a second……then promptly changed the subject.  After all, I don’t really know what my passion is, let alone how I could channel it into some sort of dream career.  And, to be honest, the fact that I’m not super passionate about anything sometimes makes me wonder if I’m missing out.

A Passionless Outcast

It seems like almost everyone I know is passionate about something.  For instance, one of my former family members is always training for marathons.  I know two people who are writing their first book.  I have friends who cross-stitch, scrapbook, and grow amazing gardens of organic food.  I have friends who are obsessed with their IT Contract jobs, teaching jobs, or small business.  And, other people I know are involved in animal rights and politics, or have an amazing talent or skill that sets them apart in some small way.

Meanwhile, I’m over here watching Game of Thrones and playing with my dog.  And sadly, there are few things that I would rather be doing. 

Help!  I Don’t Have a Passion!

So, I started thinking a little about what my passion is…or what it could be.  After reading as much as I could, I noticed that almost all of the “find your passion” experts suggested I make a list of things I’m truly passionate about.  So, I did, and this is what I came up with:

  • My kids
  • My husband
  • Authentic Thai food
  • Game of Thrones
  • Going on vacation
  • Making money

Now, I was getting somewhere.  This exercise made it apparent that I needed to channel these passions into some sort of a career.  After all, maybe I could be a travel writer who focuses solely on locations in Southeast Asia.  And, while I was traveling, I could learn several languages and use that skill to translate Game of Thrones episodes.  And, as long as my husband and kids could come along, this could seriously be my dream career of a lifetime!!!!!  I don’t see how anything could go wrong!

All kidding aside, the fact remains that the things I love aren’t likely to translate into a career.  I mean, I am a writer and I do actually write for a big name travel site, but they don’t pay for me to go anywhere, let alone Thailand.  And, they sure as hell don’t fund a HBO subscription for my viewing pleasure.

And, after some soul-searching, I’ve realized that that’s okay.  I might not be particularly passionate about anything at the moment, but it may not always be that way.  For now, I think I’ll just continue to enjoy my family and life’s small pleasures.  And in the meantime, I’ll keep looking for a job where I’m paid to travel with my family and eat Thai food.  Wish me luck.

Did you follow your passion when you chose your career?  What is your passion?

 
About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. I think your passions change as you get older. I used to have a passion for reading when l was young, now..not so much. I have a passion for food, and travel, but don’t make any money off either. Not all passions make you money, but then again it’s nice when it does. You’re passionate about your family..now you just gotta pimp them out to make money..;0)) The other Holly Johnson reality show perhaps??? LOL!

  2. Hmm, this post really got me thinking. I am passionate about certain aspects of my job but not others. Is the job itself my passion? I don’t think so. But I would agree I am passionate about family and travel. I often get the feeling that I haven’t yet found what I was born to do in life. Guess i will have to keep looking. But I would have to say that I think there are probably a LOT of people out there who are not very passionate about their jobs. I don’t think we are the only ones!

  3. I never really got the “passion” thing that people talk about. There are things I really like to do, but wouldn’t they get old if they became the thing I *had* to do everyday or risk starvation? Besides, my biggest passion is probably spending time outdoors – alone. And who is going to pay me for that?

  4. Holly,
    It seems your passion is writing that’s the only way you can churn out enough articles. Passionate about investments and finances, which absolutely bores my wife.

  5. I love to find ways to save money and I love to travel. I would love to hop on a plane at any time and travel the world but you have to be realistic about it. btw I ran a marathon last year and I never want to do that again!

  6. I honestly have no passion, or at least I struggle greatly to try to find one. I had a passion once but it got burned by a for-profit school and over $100,000 in student loan debt.

  7. Hmm you bring up a good point Holly. I don’t think you have to be passionate about anything! Seems like a myth that people buy into because it’s said so much. I think I am passionate about a few things, but nothing that has dictated my career. I do like the saying “you become passionate about what you’re good at.” I think the founder of Dilbert said that in his book I’m reading. It makes sense. I’m pretty good at creating stuff in Microsoft Excel. I wouldn’t say it’s a “passion” I’ve pursued, but I do enjoy working in Excel and creating things in it. I think I like it because I’m good at it and it’s helped me career-wise and allowed me to help others.

  8. I think your passion is writing and helping people through this blog. If it wasn’t, you’d stop today and go to work for someone else. Right?! Thanks for all you do.

  9. When I was younger it used to really bother me that I hadn’t found my passion. I was always searching for that unknown thing, never able to be happy with anything less. Now that I’m older, I’ve built a life around things I enjoy, and people I love. And I feel content. I have future plans that excite me, but I’m also able to enjoy the journey. I don’t feel like I’m missing out anymore by not having a passion.

  10. I think happiness and passion are two separate things. A lot of people follow their passion to achieve happiness, but if you have it without having to “struggle” and “work through” , I don’t think it really matters. You still get the end result.

  11. I was fortunate to discover my passion to help people financially three years ago and then I built a career around it, but until that point I was just working. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with work being work and passions being passions. You definitely have plenty in your life and you have found a career that allows you to pursue your passions of travel, family and Thai food, so I think you have gotten pretty darn close.

  12. Passion is just another word. I think a lot of people define a passion as a singular obsession. The fact that I don’t have one of those isn’t a bad thing.

    Also, a passion for Game of Thrones is not a bad thing. :)

  13. We have a bunch of posts on this topic. Passion is really overrated. And there’s nothing like making something mandatory to kill passion. Here’s our most recent post on the topic: http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/how-important-is-lifelong-passion-for-a-career-a-sad-story/
    Though I think this is the one we usually link to: http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/10/19/another-comment-on-doing-what-you-love/

  14. Game of Thrones can FOR SURE be a passion! :) And maybe you can even turn it into a career…who knows….

    I think our passions are always evolving. I don’t think that everyone can necessarily turn their passions into a career but they can make choices in their work life that help them fulfill their passions outside of their job.

  15. I think you were passionate about finding a way to leave the 9-5 life and still make money, travel, and spend more time with kids. Doesn’t really relate much to Thai food or Game of Thrones , but anyone who could find a way to do that has to have some passion.

    I was passionate to get out of my small town in KY, but since then I’m just happy to be where I am. I’ve been involved with a few organizations, like the humane society and PTA, and there are people who are crazy passionate about those, almost to the point of being a martyr. “I have no time for anything buy my cause and I’m always grumpy, but it’s all for the animals/children” No thanks!

  16. I’m with you Holly and was thinking the same thing recently. A lot of people are very passionate about different things but while I have a similar list as you, I can’t say I’m passionate about something that can translates well. I love watching sports but I sure as hell can’t play it. I am pretty passionate about saving money and personal finance stuff but my blog is more hobby than career.

  17. I was once where you were – eager to investigate my time in finding my passion.
    The trick, however, is to stop looking – stop think about it, even. Your passion will get clear. :)

  18. Making money and traveling are pretty much my only two. If watching TV and knowing tons of random pop culture trivia could be funneled into an actual job, then sign me up! But once your passion starts becoming a career, I’m not sure how passionately you still feel. It’s hard to want to keep doing the same work in your free time when you spend most of your day already hard at work…

  19. I feel passion in many of the things I did. I feel it now in teaching. I love going to work and which is one indication of passion.

  20. That something a lot of people ponder. I think the fact that you aren’t thinking about it constantly reveals that you are very content with life!! I think this “passion” thing as a career is kind of overrated. Yes, a lucky few do have their passion and their work aligned, but most of us just want to “like” our jobs a lot. I know there are topics and activities that I really enjoy, like health and fitness, beach volleyball, music, movies, travel…but none are going to necessarily lead me to change my career (with maybe the exception of health and fitness). I say if you are happy with life, who cares! :)

  21. well I can definitely say as an accountant that accounting was NOT my passion! But I have found aspects of the job that I really do enjoy: Solving problems, helping people figure out their taxes, research, etc.

    On a general note I love being creative and just having fun with my friends and family. Maybe those are my passions.

  22. Wow – I have a similar post buried somewhere in my drafts folder on this very topic!

    Not having a passion became a huge issue in a past relationship of mine, because the guy was SO passionate about his hobby that it was more important to him than I ever was. That whole situation made me feel like I was a failure because I couldn’t answer what should be one of the easiest questions in the world “What do you like?” (OR “What are you excited about?”)

    I scoured the internet and bookstores for advice on how to discover your passion, but always came up short. Sure I can list things that I enjoy – but there’s really nothing that lights that fire inside me. At least nothing I’ve found yet.

    As for following your passion as a career? It didn’t work out for me. I was passionate about theatre, acting and especially teaching kids/teenagers about it. But then I worked for 4 years in that role, but for a VERY CRAPPY organization and now I literally roll my eyes and scoff at most things related to live theatre… and have actually found myself encouraging people to pursue other things… (Yikes!)

    • Oh, I can totally relate. My ex was obsessed with a lot of stuff that was way more important than me. Honestly, that’s probably a bad sign. Your man should put you first. Greg’s hobby is ME!

  23. Ok. I got it. You and your family should be one of those convention hosts that throws GoT themed cons throughout the world. You could have your own booth where you teach the various languages of GoT and charge ridiculously insane amounts of money for your seminars.

    But in seriousness, I love writing about life so I always figured writing was my passion. Education is as well. If I could do anything besides write a book, I’d be back teaching. But just because you have a passion doesn’t mean it has to translate to a profession. It could just be there.

  24. I’m right there with you Holly, right down to playing with my dogs & Game of Thrones being my two favorite activities these days. (What is Littlefinger going to do with Sansa? I’m worried!)

    I think turning your passions into a job is a dangerous game. Growing up, I loved literature. I read novels all the time. So, naturally, I trained to be an English teacher. I hated it, and now I don’t even read fiction anymore. The classes and never ending analysis and pretentious interpretation took apart the thing I loved…ripped it open to see how the heart ticked…

  25. Don’t feel bad, Holly. I have no passion either. At least in the sense that most people refer to it. I suppose reading is closest to a passion that I have. At one time my passion was to retire, which I’ve accomplished. And you know what? I like not having to do things that are work related. I didn’t retire in order to get a part time job, or a side gig. I retired to be retired and I’m loving it. Perhaps that’s my passion.

  26. I can so relate to this Holly. I was going through this a lot a few years back when I was deciding whether or not to leave my 9-5. I have things I enjoy and like to do, of course, but don’t know that I have anything I’m truly passionate about beyond my family and travel. I think we can easily get trapped in the thought that we have to have a passion when all I care about is whether or not I’m happy with what I’m doing and those around me are happy. Of course this changes in a variety of ways as we get older but simply being happy with what’s going on is pretty good in my books and if you can make good money while at it then even better. :) I’ll second the others…GoT can definitely be a passion! :)

  27. It’s nice to know so many other people feel similarly. I’ve always been lost as to what I’m passionate about. I love my family and my pets, too, but I do believe that once passion translates to a job, work is work. I’m sure there are some exceptions, but as long as you’re happy with your life, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying things as they are.

  28. You are not alone, Holly. Lots of people stumble when I ask them what their passions are when we’re working on their goals. I feel fortunate that my passion has led to a fulfilling career, but I also think that there is so much pressure to find a passion that can turn into a full-time job or minimally make some money from that it stresses people and misses the point. Passion is what brings you the greatest happiness and given a choice – how you spend your day if you need no other obligations and didn’t earn a darn penny doing it. So if it’s your kids that make you the happiest – then I can’t think of a greater passion to have and be proud of.

  29. I don’t have a passion either. I wish I did, but even fitness which I enjoy I make myself do sometimes. I love reading, so maybe that’s a passion of mine. But I don’t pursue with great endeavor. I like writing, but lately managing everything in life has left me pooped, and I haven’t been able to pursue my hobby at full throttle. I’m still on the quest to find my passion.

  30. Great post Holly! I think you might be over thinking the concept of passion – making it out to be something we can’t grab hold of. Passion is nothing more than a strong desire for or about something. We can all get that, although some people’s passion may be stronger or more intense than others.

    You clearly have a strong desire towards those things you listed…even things like your diet and the country’s healthcare debate. I know this because it comes out in your writing… you can feel the passion jump through the post when your write on those topics.

    I don’t necessarily think you have to turn a passion into a career. None of my passions line up with my work right now…but they once did. Which tells me passions change and develop naturally as you are drawn to one thing or another time and time again. It’s not a forced issue, imo.

  31. Passions should have no tie to money. Once you mix money with them, it gets all mucky. Though that is what I am doing, I have to do a very careful dance of integrity to make sure the money doesn’t taint the goal of the passion.

    ^ that cryptic enough for you? ;)

  32. I think its obvious what you passion is!

  33. I have passions, but I don’t make money on it. I know some people that they made money on their passions, like my friend, her passion is baking cupcakes and she really made lots of money on it.

  34. I am in a similar situation. I tried to find a passion for myself and, to be honest, I sometimes envy people who are really passionate about something. But that’s not how I am and I’ve lived well enough like this for so long, I am sure that I can make it in the future too. And as long as I still like what I am doing in order to make money, I think it’s OK :)

  35. I am glad there is someone else who is passionless and understands not all passions can be profitable. If they were the world would be full of beach bums, beer tasters, snow skiers and knitters.

    An earlier commenter said she was “passionate to retire.” I guess I can say that’s my passion since we have been paying down debt and investing more over the past year.

  36. Instead of getting caught up in trying to find a passion, I would suggest you just keep doing the things you enjoy doing. Those are the things that make you happy and so many people go through life unhappy, which is sad. Maybe along the way, you will figure out what your passionate about and can go from there. But sometimes it doesn’t happen, and that is OK too. At the end of the day, being happy is what counts.

  37. Seems like your passion is writing this blog!! Not everyone can write that well (I can’t!!) and your blog sticks out because of your humor. i think you seem to also be passionate about credit card churning and rewards :) LOL…
    I found my passion by accident. I wanted to make a homemade lotion and I just kept making them until finally I had my own lotion making business! I never thought that would happen in a million years!

  38. Also….there is nothing wrong with having your family, children or pets be your passion! Motherhood is a wonderful passion!

  39. My passion is not my job. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my job, but if I would define me as a person, it’s not what I would put at the top of my list. I’m a software engineer – the work is interesting, challenging, and I enjoy it. But the thing that draws me to it is technology and the fact that it makes my brain move…but I wouldn’t consider it a passion. I would say fitness is a passion – I look forward to going to the gym every day, and work constantly to improve myself. I also consider BBQing a passion. I love reading about techniques, sharing with others, discussing all things BBQ, oh, and not to mention waking up on a weekend morning to fire up my smoker? Oh yeah….THAT’s a passion!

  40. Everyone has a passion, maybe you just haven’t found yours. Heck i find talking about dreams uncomfortable, most people does; it means your normal. I think your passion is writing personal finance blogs since you like making money. That makes sense because you like to travel as well, which needs money. How long have you been writing?

  41. There are a lot of things we’re “supposed to do” and we don’t do. I say buck the trends and do what works. Michael Jordan was awesome at basketball but loved baseball. We all know what happened when he tried professional baseball. Just because it’s your passion doesn’t mean a) you’re good at it and b) it will make you money!

  42. My passion is taking care of my wife and kid. As you noticed there’s not a lot of money in this, so the next best thing is to work at a high-paying salary doing things that I consider interesting and sometimes fun. For me, that would describe my mechanical engineering job. For others, it’s whatever they are good at.

  43. I don’t think you need to parlay your passion into a career. I did that in the beginning and then started to “hate” my passion. Now, I keep my passion for the side. I love working on cars, but wouldn’t want to do it on a regular basis.

  44. Anyone in the USA can be wealthy and successful with the right passion, drive and ambition. The ability to dream, and follow the dream is what makes America great.

  45. I share your passion for authentic Thai food! Though I have more of a passion for authentic Indian.

    I too am one of those people who just doesn’t have a passion. There are a lot of things that I love, and I would say that I am passionate about human rights and animals, but not passionate enough to quit my day job and try to find work in those fields.

  46. I never fully liked the “follow your passion” route when it came to choosing a career type. Yes, it’s true, many people do so and love their career. But for a lot of people, their jobs don’t exactly define what their passions are, and that’s okay! You can be passionate about something and it not be your main source of income. In fact, many people have regular ol’ 9-5 jobs that help fund their real passion.

  47. Thanks for the inspiration, Holly :) Because of you, I stayed up way too late tonight writing my thoughts about passions. ’twill be posted tomorrow morning!

  48. My job is not a passion of mine. I knew that while I was in college. Basically I got into computer science because I liked the ideas of artificial intelligence and robotics. Once I got to the point where I could finally take those classes (millions of prerequisites) I realized I didn’t like it. But it was about 3 years worth of classes that would not transfer to anything else so I decided to finish my degree.

    What I did know was that I liked being paid for my time, I liked San Francisco, I didn’t want to struggle to make ends meet, and I wanted to be able to afford the things in life that I did enjoy (mostly travel). That’s why I stuck with computers. If I wanted to turn to something I loved then I would have ended up working with animals. But at the same time those jobs are extremely hard to come by in the bay area, and when you do find one, they don’t pay the best so it makes my “lifestyle” harder to keep the way I like.

    Money versus passion… always a debate that is never a one size fits all.

  49. I totally hear you. My passions aren’t really things I can easily turn into a career. If I could find a way to get paid to hang out with my pets, knit and eat all day, I would be a very happy woman. Unfortunately, I don’t think that job exists.

  50. Maybe having one mega passion is a one off thing that not a lot of people have… and some just go with one to look like they have it together?

    I honestly can’t name one person I know that has a true passion for one specific thing – and that doesn’t mean they aren’t successful. I’m with you going with the flow for now. I think life is more of a journey to figure out what your passions are rather than being hard pressed to find only one.

  51. I can’t say I got to where I am because my passion. I love playing sports, but that doesn’t mean I’d ever be good enough to be a professional. Instead I got where I am because a series of circumstances and the decisions I made at the time. My passion list is pretty similar to yours. I have family up there in the top, traveling and making money are up there too. You don’t always have to be passionate about what you do, but it sure does help you enjoy the journey if you can find a passion in what you are doing.

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  53. I’m also one of those who can hardly tell what I’m passionate about. But I’m lucky I had to settle for writing while I still got time. Writing and making money that is.

    Thanks for sharing.

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