Passions That Don’t Pay

Last year, I created a workshop called “Finding Your Professional Purpose and Passion”. It was designed to help participants get clarity on their life purpose and also on their passions. It was intended to guide participants in their professional lives, but ultimately, it spoke to their overall life purpose and passions…not just related to work.

We talked about many things, but one part of our discussion centred around the question of whether or not our passions have to make us money or have some concrete purpose? I feel that our society has conditioned us to believe that there must be some tangible end result of everything we do. It’s like we have to always ask ourselves “what can I get out of this”? The correct answers, it seems, are things like “money”, “connections”, “experience for a job I want”, and “recognition”. When someone is a great baker, they are told that they should be selling their cookies. If someone loves to sing, people want to know when they’re starting their YouTube channel showcasing their talents. Don’t get me wrong, I think that a side hustle is a beautiful thing — I mean I’m working on building my coaching practice on the side while also holding down full-time employment. My issue is that doing things for no other purpose than the joy, pleasure and fun they bring seems not to be enough in our society. I mean, some people just want to bake because it’s fun and because cookies taste good!

I came across a quote by Heather Ennis that said: “If you can’t imagine not doing something, it’s a passion. It doesn’t have to be a moneymaker. Make your money some way that will give you the time for what you really love to do. There are a lot of things worth doing that will never bring you money”. I just loved this! How many of us do things simply because we love them? I suspect that the answer is not too many of us, but if I’m wrong, I’d love to hear your feedback and I’ll be overjoyed ;)

When we were kids, if we were fortunate enough to grow up with love, safety and our basic needs were met, so much of what we did was based on what we loved doing. Some of my favourite things were reading, writing and illustrating stories, playing with my Barbies and having elaborate storylines for their lives and making song and dance routines with my sister. To date, I have not yet become a professional author, actor or performance artist. Does that mean that my entire childhood was a waste of time? Of course not! Even the question itself sounds ridiculous. So why do we feel that as adults, the pursuit of passions that don’t provide monetary gain or some sort of “tangible” benefit are pointless?

I believe that our lives would be so much richer if we all had things that make us feel joyful, inspired, excited and happy. For some people, their work will bring these things, but for those of you who aren’t passionate about your professional work, and changing your current work situation isn’t something you’re considering at the moment, consider exploring some passions outside of work.

A couple of my passions that are not money makers are dance (I’ve been taking an adult ballet class for 10 years), volunteering, especially working with young people and travel.

What are some things in your life that bring you joy, excitement, fulfillment and a sense of gratitude and don’t bring you any financial reward?