Should you focus on pursuing your passion or should you make money first, and then pursue your passion?
If you ask the motivational speaker or life coach, he’ll tell you to follow your passion without hesitation. This generic recommendation is what happens when you take one tiny reality and generalize it into universal reality. If you look at famous people in fashion, arts, and entertainment, it’s easy to dole out the advice to follow your passion and the money will come as universal truth. But this advice does not seem practical for the majority of people.
In fact, many people get more confused in life when they are caught in that maze of trying to figure out what they are passionate about that can make them financially capable. What do you do when what you love to do is sleeping, watching TV, or partying? How do you follow this passion to live a fulfilling life? The majority of people are either clueless about their passion or are passionate about something that has little or no commercial value. This makes this advice not applicable for most people.
Another school of taught is to do whatever will make you money. When you have made the money, then you can do what you love. Again, this does not provide the best alternative. When you look around you, every normal person seems to be chasing after money with the hope that someday, they will be able to live a fulfilling life. But normal people rarely get to live the life they want. And pursuing after money isn’t a fulfilling way to live.
So should you follow your passion or follow the money?
Instead of following a rigid passion or blindly running after money, I have a different perspective that can work for anyone. I believe the better alternative is to follow opportunity. This is because an opportunity with commercial or impactful value can give you something to be passionate about as well as potentially make you money or give you recognition.
For example, 20 years ago, no one would tell you they are passionate about blogging, app development, or social media because these industries barely existed. 10 years ago, few people would tell you they are passionate about artificial intelligence, and machine learning. However, most of the people who have benefited from these industries simply saw an opportunity and followed it passionately. Some of them had to leave something they were passionate about to pursue these opportunities. They got rewarded with lots of money, impact, and recognition.
You don’t have to be passionate about an opportunity to benefit from it. What you need is to find an opportunity you will be passionate about its potential impact and reward.
Let me give you another example. I started the first online platform on funding opportunities for students and graduates from Africa. However, I originally started the platform to write about personal development for young people. I am not exactly passionate about scholarships and funding opportunities, but I saw a gap that needs to be filled, the potential impact of filling the gap for young people, and the potential financial reward. I decided to seize the opportunity passionately. My passion was not from what I was doing but from the impact of what I was doing.
Follow Impact not Pleasure
The truth no one talks about is that even the thing you are passionate about will become tedious if you want to make it successful. Do you know the number of training athletes go through to perform at their best? The process of becoming a champion is not for the faint-hearted. If your goal in life is to only do things that you enjoy the entire process, you will never be successful.
When it comes to building a business or career out of anything, you want to be driven by the potential impact of what you do and not by the pleasure that comes from the process of doing it. If you want to make money, you cannot focus on doing what you love. You have to build your capacity to endure what you don’t love. Let me rephrase that; to be able to get to do what you love, you have to develop the capacity to do what you don’t love so that you can have the freedom to do what you love. I don’t believe in following your passion to make money. If you want to make money, get interested in the world around you and seize the opportunities it presents to add value and make an impact.
Here are thing to keep in mind when following opportunities.
Consider market needs
It’s one thing to have something you are passionate about. It’s another thing entirely whether there is a market need for that. Likewise what may seem like an opportunity may not have a market need for it. If you love to play Ludo games, is there is a market need for it? Do people wake up in the morning and say, “I want to become the best Ludo player”
You are more likely to be successful if you focus more attention on knowing what people want and how to provide it for them, than wasting your time as a life coach trying to discover what you are passionate about.
Consider commercial value
There may be a market need for something, but little commercial value. In other words, people may need something but may not be very eager to pay reasonably for it. For example, we all desperately need air to survive. But is anyone ready to pay you for air when it’s already available for free? Remember that people are more willing to pay for what they want than what they need. So before you start turning those recycled waste into slippers, ask yourself, “are people willing to pay profitably money for this?”
Consider Impact value
Some opportunities may demonstrate high market need but may not immediately show if it has commercial value or not. For example, when I started After School Africa, I was certain there was a market need for it. People want to know about scholarships, competitions, and funding opportunities. But are advertisers willing to advertise to people looking for free money? Does it make commercial sense to build an online platform focused on funding opportunities for Africans?
When you encounter success opportunities, you won’t go wrong if you are certain of the value and impact the opportunity will make. I was certain that creating massive online awareness within the continent about scholarship opportunities around the world will make a significant impact on the lives of people. And I was right. Thousands of young people have won scholarships, business grants, competitions, and other funding opportunities as a result. In fact, hundreds of scholarship websites have been created as a result of the success of After School Africa. So before you follow an opportunity, consider the potential impact it will make.
Develop high demand skills
The more skilled you are the more opportunities you will attract and identify. And the more in demand your skill is, the more opportunities will come your way. Opportunity begets opportunity. Instead of sitting and waiting to discover what you are passionate about or racing after money like a rat, focus on developing skills that have high market demand and high commercial value. It could be data science-related skills, copywriting, marketing, presentation, or any high-demand skill that interests you.
If you are living in a country where your basic needs are already met, or come from a wealthy family, you can go ahead and follow your passion. But for most of us, 99 percent of the time, you’ve got to put yourself out there and follow the opportunities that interest you. People who follow opportunities attract money more than anyone else. In fact, the majority of self-made millionaires and billionaires today are simply people who followed a wave of opportunity.
If you are struggling to put food on your table, a shelter over your head, and a pair of clothes on you, you need to make money first. And your best bet is to passionately follow opportunities. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!