Starting / Choosing a career

Why passion is a dirty word

For those having trouble choosing a career or business idea, “do something you’re passionate about” is common advice. But the word ‘passion’ doesn’t resonate with everyone.


For some people, pursuing their passion makes total sense. They might be really into adventure sports or drawing or cooking – something that gives them a special kind of thrill. And so they set out to create a business that lets them combine that with making money.

For others, “passion” implies being naturally talented or skilled at something; and what if you don’t feel you are?

As I understand it, passions are whatever make you lose your sense of time and place, and even self, when you’re doing them; the thing that makes you so in-the-moment you forget about everything else; the thing that gets you “in the flow”. I don’t think you necessarily have to be good at it. Skill is something you acquire over time with tonnes of practice (that’s how it is with all the things I consider to be my ‘passions’ – writing, music, running…).

I also think a passion is something that makes you happy – either while you’re doing it or after you’ve done it (because sometimes what brings happiness down the track makes us miserable in the moment). But now I’ve gone and added another fickle word – happiness – to the mix. And my theorising doesn’t make either word any more accessible.

"When people suggest you follow your ‘passion’ or your ‘bliss’, I propose that they are, in fact, referring to the same singular concept: excitement."

Want more articles like this? Check out the choosing a career section.

Author of The 4-Hour Workweek, Timothy Ferriss, irons out this definition dilemma by replacing both “happiness” and “passion” with a much more relatable term:

“‘Excitement’ is a more practical synonym for ‘happiness’,” he says, “and is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all. When people suggest you follow your ‘passion’ or your ‘bliss’, I propose that they are, in fact, referring to the same singular concept: excitement… The question you should be asking isn’t, ‘What do I want’ or ‘What are my goals?’ but ‘What would excite me?’”

So if you’re looking for some guidance on what kind of business to start or career path to go down, rather than choosing something you’re passionate about, try choosing something that excites you.

Do you identify with the word “passion”? How does your business excite you? 

Jodie McLeod

is a freelance copywriter, editor and journalist, and former Editor of Flying Solo. If you're after an intelligent crafter of catchy copy who has loads of experience with words, ads and ideas, get in touch.


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