Is Following Your Passion Really the Best Way to Find Love?

Is Following Your Passion Really the Best Way to Find Love?

Dilbert creator Scott Adams blogged about passion a couple of weeks ago.

“You often hear advice from successful people that you should “Follow your passion.” That sounds about right. Passion will presumably give you high energy, high resistance to rejection and high determination. Passionate people are more persuasive, too. Those are all good things, right?”

Well, as you know from reading this space, there’s a downside to passion, too. Passion allows you to pursue something (or someone) that may not be good for you in the long run. But at least you have your PASSION, right?

That’s what I told myself when I was a struggling screenwriter in my 20’s. That’s what Adams concludes as well.

“It’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. I’ve been involved in several dozen business ventures over the course of my life and each one made me excited at the start. You might even call it passion. The ones that didn’t work out – and that would be most of them – slowly drained my passion as they failed. The few that worked became more exciting as they succeeded. As a result, it looks as if the projects I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, the passion evolved at the same rate as the success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.”

Every blue moon, I’ll get an email from a reader who “just knew” that her man was her “soulmate” because they had “electric chemistry” and “immediately slept together”, and here they are, 35 years later, and they’re still just as “passionate as they were the day they met”.

Sometimes giving up on your original passion is the key to opening up to true happiness.

This becomes the argument for following your passion. While littered at the side of the road are the THOUSANDS of people whose passionate relationships ended in tears, devastation, confusion, and frustration, causing years and years of heartbreak.

I, for one, am THRILLED that I gave up my “passion” of being a Hollywood comedy writer, and “compromised” into my current career, which, while not as lucrative or titillating as being Judd Apatow, provides me with a consistent income, no office politics, the ability to set my own hours, no commute, and the ability to make a genuine difference in people’s lives.

In other words, sometimes giving up on your original passion is the key to opening up to true happiness.

Read Adams’ blog entry here and share your thoughts on the power of passion below.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    joel

     
    @EMK
    Yes, but that can be said of any profession.  Or any endeavor.  Many want to get into Harvard, a large handful do.  Just as many wish to be screenwriters, and a large handful do. 
    The point is, that people who follow their passion do make it.  Those who fail or “fail” do so for many reasons, but either the interest isn’t strong enough or the planning is too rocky or they are burdened too soon with responsibilities.
    My earlier point was, though, that following one’s profesional calling does not have to be Ramen noodles the whole way through.  One can have a job and do the writing, for example, at night.  That model has worked for many.  
    I do get the impression that you wish to discourage people from passion.  It is what make life very grand
     
     
     
     
     
     

    1. 31.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Wrong, Joel. The odds of becoming a successful and working writer with a long career and not having to support one’s self with a day job is astronomically low. Most other careers are closer to meritocracies. You go to law school, you go to med school, you go to business school, you’ll most likely land on your feet. Not so with a career in the arts.

      Creative people are more likely to be depressed and bipolar than the general population by far (see Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine”), which isn’t an accusation, but an observation. When you put all your eggs into your passion, and you don’t get to really ply that passion professionally, life can be pretty darned frustrating. If you can be fine with your passion as a hobby – community theater, small poetry readings, local choirs, that’s cool. But making a living at your artistic passion is rare indeed – and there’s often a great cost to those who don’t look beyond their passion for income.

  2. 32
    Yolanda

     Oh I so do not agree with this.   All kinds of writers and artists and screenwriters have made it big, doubling up on jobs or living low for a long while and pulling through.   What made you want to become a screenwriter in the first place?  People doing movies, making them happen.   Stop discouraging everyone.  You sound like you are trying to talk people out of it.  And yes, there are highs and lows in the arts, but there are such things in the “normal” world as well.  Look at the “mothers” staying at home who kill their own kids or the “nice, sane 9 to 5″ neighbor who goes bezerk and shoots kids.  There are lawyers and doctors who are bipolar criminal fill in the blank everything.   The writing life and the artistic life are difficult but hugely rewarding to those who pull through. 

    1. 32.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You don’t seem to understand, Yolanda. The number of people who “make it” is MINISCULE. But the possibility of making people laugh for a living, or playing basketball for a living, or painting pictures for a living is so tantalizing that hundreds of thousands of people try. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. It DOES mean that you shouldn’t be so fixated on your passion so as to make yourself miserable. People who have aspirations that go unfulfilled (like making a living at art) are often highly unhappy people, and all they’d have to do to get happy was shift their goal. It worked for me, and I would suggest it could work for lots of people as well, if they had the wherewithal to realize that you CAN be happy at another profession.

  3. 33
    Goldie

    FWIW Evan, I’m with you in that, generally speaking, there’s no money in creative art. Yes, a few people make it big. A few people also hit the jackpot; doesn’t mean we should all start buying lottery tickets. I can only speak for writing, as that is the only field I’ve had some exposure to. I met someone at an annual charity brunch three years ago that was a published writer and had a book in the works. After we met, she had one book come out (I bought a copy) and got an advance for the sequel. At the next annual brunch however, I didn’t see her. A mutual friend told me that this woman was broke, and could not afford to pay the $40 for the brunch. She also lives with a roommate. She is in her 50s. She does not have a family or kids, and still, she cannot even support her own self with her trade. And she is a published writer, something most people that try to write and submit will never be. It is insanely hard to make money with writing, especially these days. IMO there is nothing wrong with giving your passion a try for a year or two, then if it doesn’t pan out, finding another profession in a similar field, that pays (like you did), and/or pursuing your passion on your free time as a hobby. I’ve told your story to my sons a few times, by the way. The message I want them to get from it is that their future may not turn out exactly as they want it to at 17, but that, along the way, they may discover a profession they don’t even know exists, and become successful at that. I’m not sure if I believe in deciding what you want to do once when you’re a teenager, and then staying the course for the rest of your life, no matter what. I expect talented people (like you, or like my kids) to be more flexible than that.

  4. 34
    Ruby

    Goldie #39
     
    That’s why so many people in the arts teach. Your writer acquaintance could teach, or work/freelance as a copywriter or editor, and still have time to write. Unless a book is a big best-seller, you don’t make that much money off it. However, thinking it’s going to only take a year or two to make it, isn’t very realistic, so you’ll need to plan on supporting yourself some other way for at least 3-5 years.

  5. 35
    sarahrahrah!

    I’ve got to weigh in on this one, too.
     
    Folks, Evan is objectively correct when he says that making it in the creative arts is next to impossible.  If you don’t believe him, look up your favorite creative arts profession in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor:  http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
     
    I live in Northern California and have worked and volunteered in the visual and performing arts areas for over 20 years.  I am friends with “professionals” in the business.  These are people who are lucky enough to have full-time work in their desired fields.  Of these people, virtually none of them has a stable income (and up until now with Obamacare) and health benefits except for those who chose to go into teaching.  If you’re creative and want to make money without teaching, your best shot is by creating iPhone applications, imho.

  6. 36
    Rochelle

    A lot of artists and writers freelance while also making earnings through a stable job. I know a lot of people in the art field, dated some artists too. It’s true, the opportunities are very slim, very competitive, and it’s difficult to live on a stable income that way. It’s a shame because I admire artistic talent and once considered going that route too as either a comic book artist, fashion designer or video game character designer.  I had to be honest with myself and realize it wasn’t wise to follow that as my career, especially after seeing how so many people were more creative and artistic than myself. So perhaps some would say I “compromised” into my current career of library and information services and I love it. Plus it pays well and I don’t have to work long hours.

  7. 37
    Ruby

    Rochelle #42
     
    Actually, I have a friend who works as a video game character designer. He makes a six-figure income working for a video game company, a lot more than when he was self-employed as an animator. I think, in many cases, it’s the self-employment and the pursuit of fine art as a profession (rather than doing commercial work), that makes it more difficult to make a living.

  8. 38
    Gina

    I am going to weigh in on this one too…I live in Northern California now, but was born and raised in Los Angeles. I met so many people who were trying to make it in either the music or entertainment industry and most of them, except one of my childhood friends, did not. I also went to high school withkid young man who was in one movie as a kid, but could not get any other acting roles. As far as being a screenwriter was concerned, I do not know anyone who made it. I am in my early 50s and my parents, as well as many of the parents of my generation told us to go to college and obtain practical degrees that would enable us to secure gainful employment (because they had no intention of supporting us indefinitely). For those of us who were determined to make it in the entertainment business because that was our “passion” and we just knew that we would be the exception to the rule, we were told to pursue that passion, but have a double major or minor in a field that would provide gainful employment as a backup if our dream did not pan out. It didn’t and those business, computer science, and engineering backup degrees were the ones that paid the bills. The Radio, Television, and Film on the other hand, turned out to be a waste of money. 
    The old Gladys Knight song, “Midnight Train to Georgia” comes to mind. It is about a man who could not make it in the entertainment industry in L.A., decides to go back home to Georgia, and his girlfriend follows him.
     

  9. 39
    Peter

    I am with Evan on abandoning hopeless passion.  During my career, UK manufacturing lost 90% of it’s workforce.  A passion for engineering doesn’t keep you employed in those circumstances.  Furthermore, I agree that trades with low entry barriers, such as, no doubt, script writing, are very hard to develop into remunerative work.  Lawyers, accountants, doctors and to some extent engineers, push the weak overboard before they are admitted into the profession.  If you make it through onto the boat, you rise and fall with the tide. (Desperately trying to keep the metaphor consistent.  Still needs work).

  10. 40
    Design girl

    I have many passions including painting, children’s illustration, guitar,  photography, graphic design. Graphic design was the one that supported me…paid work seems to find me easily.
    By analogy, I have been attracted to various men who were not attracted to me…and then I was attracted to my husband, who loved me back.
    So I believe there is this  push and pull of the universe, and you have to respect its Flow…
    not stubbornly asserting your own will and vision at all times.
    This is in response to those who say they know exactly what they want to do, and not doing it is a failure…are you really so wise and perfect that you always know the best path for your life?
    It seems that Evan helps many people on this site, and perhaps the universe was more in need of that than another screenplay…?
    Perhaps both in work and dating, one needs to be not focused on getting exactly what one wants, but be a bit more open minded and receptive. That is my view of the pursuit of passion.

    (disclaimer…yes I do have religious beliefs…and yes I cone from an Eastern background!)
     

  11. 41
    Josh

    You obviously put a lot thought and “passion” into your articles.
    But I respectfully disagree with your advice:
    You chose to be a dating coach.
    Let’s be honest: that’s not exactly the most “practical” career choice.
    Why did you choose this line of work?
    My hunch: passion. (BTW, I went after my passion as well and have never regretted it.)
    In regards to finding a mate: love is not the same as planning your 401 K.
    Chasing passion may risk disaster. But compromising passion for “stability” risks misery and ennui. 
    For every person I know who suffered from chasing their passion, I know another who suffered from settling for “stability” and “compromise.” 
     

    1. 41.1
      starthrower68

      Evidently this has to be repeated yet again that one is wise to strike a balance between passion and stability.  I have felt intense passion a couple of times in my life for certain men and there was no stability whatsoever.  Trying to continue on with them would have been like trying to herd cats.  All chemistry and passion means is that you might have great sex.  Doesn’t mean someone will want to sit in the rocking chair on the porch with you when you grow old. 

      1. 41.1.1
        Sarah

        I agree that there needs to be balance but I think you’re selling passion short starthrower68. Passion is more than just great sex and desire, it’s the compelling enthusiasm and strong feelings that propels someone to want to stay with someone until they are 81 and in that rocking chair. Inspires someone to strive to be the best version of themselves. What I think Josh is trying to point out is that is isn’t so black and white. Passion isn’t less important than stability. If you compromise against passion, isn’t your partner only your best friend then? Why not choose a roommate to grow old with instead? Why not choose one of those cats to herd? I know from experience that going after only the perfect guy on paper who would make a great rocking chair buddy doesn’t work out either. Passion is something you can lose so it is something you have to fight for. I’d take the feeling of being ‘in love’ with someone over just ‘loving’ someone because they get along well with you and you both can grow into stable complacency together.

        1. starthrower68

          Well the good news is, we are free to have however much passion vs. stability that we desire. 😉

        2. EmeraldDust

          I think that “in love” feeling fades over time, but the comfort grows.  I don’t think trying to make that feeling last for 50 years is realistic, but I do think it is important to have in the beginning, because even when that starry eyed feeling fades, you still have the MEMORY of it.  I think the memory of that starry eyed feeling can still bring a smile to your face, when you are an old comfortable couple sitting on the porch, holding hands & talking about the grand kids.  It can also trap you into staying with someone when the starry eyed haze of new love wears off, and you are an old beligerant couple having a screaming match over the proper way to hang a roll of toilet paper.
          I wouldn’t want to enter into a relationship with a complete absence of passion (or lust, excitement or  infatuation, or whatever term you prefer to use) but it doesn’t have to be through the roof.  I would rather have less passion and more comfort than vice versa, but I couldn’t get into a relationship without passion at all.

        3. Josh

          Hi starthrower68,
          I’m just trying to understand what you wrote.

          You wrote: “Evidently this has to be repeated yet again that one is wise to strike a balance between passion and stability.”
          That’s a given.
          But then you go on to contradict your last statement with: “All chemistry and passion means is that you might have great sex. Doesn’t mean someone will want to sit in the rocking chair on the porch with you when you grow old.”

          No offense but it doesn’t seem to me like you’re advocating a balance between passion and stability.

          In fact, you’re underplaying passion and suggesting a good relationship is all about stability. 

          BTW, homes for the elderly abound with rocking chair buddies, so, if were you, I wouldn’t be too worried about that. 

          Just teasing ;-)

  12. 42
    Josh

    Hi starthrower68,
    I’m just trying to understand what you wrote.
    You wrote: “Evidently this has to be repeated yet again that one is wise to strike a balance between passion and stability.”
    That’s a given.
    But then you go on to contradiction your last statement with: “All chemistry and passion means is that you might have great sex. Doesn’t mean someone will want to sit in the rocking chair on the porch with you when you grow old.”
    No offense but it doesn’t seem to me like you’re advocating a balance between passion and stability.
    In fact, you’re underplaying passion and suggesting a good relationship is all about stability. 
    BTW, homes for the elderly abound with rocking chair buddies, so, if were you, I wouldn’t be too worried about that. 
    Just teasing ;-)

    1. 42.1
      starthrower68

      Not a problem.  Many elderly enjoy retirement home living with the sense of community.  😉

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