4 Myths about Doing What You Love for Work

“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” ~Buddha

“Big flud strikes Revere!”

That was the headline of the newspaper I made with my sister when I was six. I hadn’t yet honed my skills as an editor, but I knew a good fake story when I heard it.

Eight years later, while wading through my anger toward several people who’d hurt me, I wrote a short book called The Line of the Virtues about the grey area between good and bad. An older coworker at my afterschool job asked, “Are all kids this deep these days?”

Somewhere between six and fourteen, I’d found my calling: I was a writer who liked to tackle weighty topics. Though I took a lot of detours between realizing that and pursuing writing as a career, ultimately, it brought me to Tiny Buddha—my sweet spot for personal and professional fulfillment.

Looking back, I realize I took those detours solely because I was scared. I thought writing was one of those careers that only a few people get to do. I figured it was better not to try than to try and fail, because then I could pretend I wasn’t writing by choice.

I remember the first time I realized I was hiding from my passion. I was twenty-six years old, and part of a marketing team that was walking across the country to promote a number of fitness products.

A coworker and I got into a ridiculous fight over the meaning of a word. She’d formerly worked as a comedy writer for radio shows—and, for the record, she was right about the meaning. Defending her stance, she shouted, “Don’t you think I’d know? I’m a writer!”

I responded, “Me too!”

Then she argued, “Not really!” Further drilling the point home, she continued, “Just wait ‘til you move to San Francisco and call yourself a writer there. Your MySpace blogs just aren’t going to cut it!”

Since I’d held nothing back from Tom, this hurt—until later when I realized she’d given me a gift. She’d smothered me with the truth, and I had no choice but to acknowledge she was right yet again.

I got a writing job the second day after I arrived in San Francisco. I was writing about senior care, a topic that interested me about as much as the mating habits of ants. But it was a decision to step onto a new path, knowing full well that, at that point, I had no idea where I was going.

This is true for all of us whenever we start doing something new. There are never any guarantees about where it will lead, and that can be a scary thing, particularly if your current situation allows you to comfortably meet your responsibilities.

There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for discovering what you’re passionate about and then transitioning to a new career. That being said, I’ve learned a few things about doing what you love for work—and I’ve learned that a lot of what I previously believed simply is not true.

Myth #1: Do what you love and the money will follow.

If there’s one thing that holds us back from pursuing our passions, it’s the fear of not being able to take care of ourselves (and our families, if we have them). It’s what keeps us in unfulfilling jobs: the guaranteed paycheck that’s enough (or, even harder to walk away from, more than enough).

But this idea ignores the fact that succeeding in anything requires a great deal of work and uncertainty. Risk is always part of the equation. For everyone who has made a good living doing something they enjoy, there are countless other equally talented people who were not able to do it.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pursue our passions; it just means we’re more apt to feel satisfied doing it if we define success in terms beyond financial gain. That might mean we need to live on less. It might mean we need to balance our passion with other work.

Of course, you may create a situation where your passion becomes lucrative; if it wasn’t your strongest motivation, it will be icing on the cake.

Do what you love and enjoyment will follow. Do what you love and you will feel more fulfilled. Do what you love and the money will seem less relevant. These things I’ve found are true.

Myth #2: Leap and the net will appear.

It’s just plain scary to leap, especially when you have no idea where you’ll land or how. A lot of us get caught in the planning stage because we want to know with absolute certainty we won’t make a mistake we’ll one day regret.

So we wait, we gather information, we imagine all possible outcomes and plan to avoid negative ones, and generally anchor ourselves with good intentions that, in some cases, never lead to action.

John Burroughs wasn’t entirely misguided with this idea—it motivates us to get going, since it suggests we can have faith that we won’t fall flat on our faces. But the reality is that we sometimes will.

What’s important to realize is that we are strong enough to get back up if this happens, and we can do it knowing that every fall is valuable. Every time a net doesn’t appear, we learn a little more about how to weave one for ourselves. We also learn to be comfortable in the drop, which, if we’re honest, is where we always live. Life is uncertain, whether we take large risks or not.

It’s not just the leaps that dictate our success; it’s our capacity for soaring through the unknown, and our willingness to learn from the landing.

Myth #3: Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

With any job or business, you often need to do things you wouldn’t choose to do. I love writing and chatting with people on the blog and social media pages, but I don’t particularly enjoy marketing—and I’m not a big fan of pitching myself for future opportunities. These two things always feel like work, as do the many administrative tasks that keep this site running and growing.

But that’s not the only reason doing what you love can feel like work. There’s also the inevitability that most tasks feel different when they become things we need to do to earn. In a related post, blogger Clay Collins referenced a 1956 psychological experiment  that showed people are more likely to find intrinsic motivation when they’re paid very little to do a task. When the monetary compensation increases, suddenly the money becomes the motivation, and as a result, it feels less enjoyable.

I suspect this comes down to freedom: we tend to best enjoy the things we feel we’re doing entirely by choice. Since work, in any form, requires commitment that supersedes our moment-to-moment whims, we need to know going in that even the most enjoyable paths will have their ups and downs.

If we can do this, we’ll be far more apt to stick with something when it doesn’t meet the romantic image we may have visualized. That’s what it means to do what you love for work: to remember that even if it’s something you’re passionate about, there will be some aspects that feel less exciting than others.

Myth #4: Anyone can decide at any time to do what they love.

This may seem contrary to conventional wisdom, but I’ve learned that it it’s not always smart to drop everything and follow your passion. I’m not saying we should get stuck in the waiting game—forever analyzing, planning, and stagnating. It’s true that we can start incorporating our passions into our lives at any times.

I’m suggesting that sometimes we need to do a little legwork first if we want to turn our passions into careers; and that legwork is different for everyone depending on their circumstances. Flexo from Consumerist Commentary made an interesting argument using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Our physiological needs, like air, food, water, and sleep, are on the bottom of the pyramid. Above that, there’s safety, which encompasses finances, job security, health security, and physical safety. Above that, our social needs, including love and family. Above that, esteem, encompassing self-respect, accomplishment, and recognition. And lastly, at the top of the pyramid, there’s self-actualization.

Flexo suggested that pursuing our passions is akin to self-actualization, and we’re best able to do that when our basic needs are met.

History has proven this isn’t universally true. Some of the most passionate, successful people are those who have sacrificed many of their needs to push toward one all-encompassing goal.

But the bottom line remains: not everyone has the luxury of dropping everything and taking a massive risk right now. If you have a family, you may need to do extensive planning to transition to a new field. If you live paycheck-to-paycheck, you may need to overlap your current job with your passion in order to eventually make a living through the latter.

This may seem discouraging—or it could seem empowering if it motivates you to take an honest look at your current situation and make a plan based on what makes sense given your unique responsibilities and needs.

We all have different advantages, some based on good fortune and some based on choices we’ve previously made. We can only ever start from where we are. If we have the strength to play our hands, instead of questioning why we don’t hold different cards, then we can decide at any time to work toward doing what we love.

It’s not as simple and catchy as the American Dream, but it’s a far more realistic representation of what’s possible for us.

The important thing is to remember that so much is still possible. We all deserve to enjoy the way we spend our days. If we’re willing to dream, work hard, learn, and navigate uncertainty, we all have the potential to do it.

Photo by kmlb*

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest bookTiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

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  • This post really resonated with me today. Thanks for posting.

  • Very interesting post, thanks.
    I don’t know that they’re myths – they just don’t always hold true.
    But even though there is that risk, it’s better than wondering ‘what if’ for the rest of your life (IMHO).


  • This post is so timely for my husband and I.  We are in the planning stages of taking a huge leap – quitting a stable job and going back to college (both of us simultaneously), which means going into debt.  Our hearts know that this is the right path for us at this moment in time.  But our brains, every once in a while, chime in with those nagging “what if” and “where’s the money going to come from” questions.  Thank you for being so honest and realistic in this post – I actually find it more encouraging than blog posts of pure optimism.

    It’s one thing to encourage yourself with reassuring ideas like “Leap and the net will appear,” but it is delusional to wholly believe in them.  I think what’s most important when you’re looking at a significant and risky life change is to acknowledge your fears of leaving safety (usually money) behind, and to accept that the worst-case scenarios may happen when you leap off that cliff.  But realize that you also have a chance to make the best-case scenario come true, with hard work and confidence in yourself – and that best-case scenario can never come into being if you don’t take the leap, so it’s worth a shot.  It’s wise to have a Plan B to fall back on…but don’t use it as a crutch or an excuse for not giving Plan A your all! 

  • SpiritualNurse

    There you go, dis-assembling some popular paradigms ….

  • Thabev

    Every time i would see these myth-quotes, I would cringe for exactly the same reasons you have so eloquently explained in this article. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

  • That’s likely more accurate phrasing–just a little long for the title. =) I completely agree with you about taking risks. I think one thing that’s helped me push through fears is feeling that I am being realistic with my expectations and the work involved. If you understand the challenges going in, it’s a lot easier to stay on track, because you can potentially plan for them.

  • You are most welcome!

  • How exciting that you are both going back to school! I think that realistic thinking can be more empowering than purely optimistic motivation, because it helps us take risks from a strong, educated place. I love what you wrote about accepting the worst-case scenario but knowing you have the chance to create the best-case one. That’s exactly what I hoped to communicate with this post. =)

  • Jeffrey Welch

    Hi Lori:

    Thanks for an awesome article – I love your openness, vulnerability and authenticity – you truly speak from your heart!  In fact that’s the case with most every article I read on Tiny Buddha.  I’m sure it’s not easy to keep things running smoothly, so I appreciate the time and effort you put into this site for the benefit of its readers.  I can say you definitely have an impact on a lot of people! 🙂 …

    IMHO, life is all about balance – I think we have to find a way to mitigate our passions and our responsibilities.  I know plenty of people who “follow their dreams” and get to do amazing things every day, but struggle in other areas of life (relationships, money, fatigue, emotional stability, etc.)  Most of us will know the opposite types – those who work 80 hours a week and make substantial money but battle with other problems and struggles the former group don’t usually experience.  So 2 different cases, both have their pleasures and pains – how can we “find the middle path” (as The Buddha would suggest) and infuse both?

    I’ve had a lot of personal inquiry and searching on this subject over the past year, and, as you allude in the article, found that I have to accept all paths having both of these aspects – pleasure to pain, happiness to depression, light to dark, up to down.  No matter what I’m doing, the pendulum of emotions swings back and forth and will continue to do so as long as I identify with the actions and results of what I’m doing.  Stepping back, though – looking at things objectively, quietly, consistently – I realize that we are not our jobs, our passions, our depression, our bank accounts, our relationships…. We are the in-between space that holds all of that together.  When good things or bad things happen, we don’t think they are happening TO us – they are just happening, and we are observing that occurrence, which will go away just as it came in…

    For me, when I approach the “do what we love” question from that angle, I break out of the illusion and simply play the game, loving the game itself instead of the particular place I am on the board at a given moment in time.  I always give my earnest effort in what I do, but (although a challenge sometimes) I endeavor to have no expectations on the outcomes…

    Thanks again for sharing – best to you and yours!

    – Jeff 🙂

  • Heather

    Dear Lori,

    Were we separated at birth?

    I suspect many people reading this post will have similar reactions. 

    You nailed this one for me, right down to bolding the paragraph that describes my reluctance to write.  I’ve lived a lot of years in the “better not to try than to try and fail,” camp, and I’m just now trying to break out.

    Awesome post. Thank you for sharing this.

  • I work with creative entrepreneurs who have lost  these illusions along the way to make their art a profitable lifestyle.
    I really liked #4, anyone isn’t ready at anytime to do what they love. Of course there are 1000s of reasons as you point. I believe at anytime most of us are passionate and love several ideas or ventures, which makes it even more complicated.

    What I really loved in your post is how you say ‘there is no one size fits all”, this is the most important idea. What suits one person might not work for another. We all have to do the hard work of digging and discovering, then some of us take a leap and others don’t.

    So much is still possible you are right, but not everything. This is where we often get confused.

    Great post Lori 🙂 

  • Finally! An article that is more realistic than the whimsical, all smiles and sunshine articles out there. Frankly I have grown tired of every article I read talking about how you just choose to be happy, focus on what you want and it will come. I really appreciate your dose of reality that following your passion has its ups and downs and may not live up to your romantic vision of it. That surprise, surprise, you will actually have to complete work that you may not like or enjoy, but keeps your overall passion in play.

  • First I read your title, then scanned the article to read the subtitles. Then I began reading, feeling sure that for the first time I’d have to disagree with you. But I was instead drawn in with your wonderfully reasoned thoughts and practical approaches to these “myths”, actually making them still be true but with qualifiers rooted in the very real world. Can’t disagree one little bit with any of it!

    I’ve enjoyed this thoughtful, practical article, Lori. I agree with other comments posted here before me: it’s refreshing to read a life’s-realities-based take
    on some typical optimistic, but essentially impractical, “new age”

  • LadyTamborine

    In the Financial Planning world… we call them “calculated risks.”

  • Thanks for this thoughtful post, Lori. I’m well aware of the great blessing — one might say the luxury — of being able to do what you love. Your reflections are helpful — especially your rewording of the “Do what you love; the money will follow,” which is brilliant.

  • Marissa Haynes

    Dear Lori,

    Awesome post! I particularly like, ” Every time a net doesn’t appear, we learn a little more about how to weave one for ourselves.” This is so true and so well put:) Thanks for sharing!

    Peace n love,

  • ‘J.A.’

    This Planet doesn’t approve of me, so God apparently doesn’t approve of any better idea than myself that I can get away with staying down here, Mars means quite a lot to me, if any one wants to know why, you can, why, receive, my phone, Chile, 00562 548 29 31, i.e. for any good labor purpose, because of the fact that IT, God, can’t understand Its Pers. Behavior, whatever IT exists or not, so that I can of course become & believe in & so on, greetings, ‘J.A.,’ I realise that any of my further & most selv relevant information can sound like an enigma, even a big complication, however, it’s still one that I see no idea, whatsoever that I can see as any ‘relevant’ compromise, as my Danish mother, poor one, is crazy for such a thing.

  • Krystle

    Man, oh man, Lori!

    A few months ago, there was a post (and the details escape me at the moment) about a woman who was so brought down by her career that she quit and did what she loved to do full-time – travel and write. There was a lot of commotion in the comments after the post – many feeling that it was reckless to encourage taking a hugh risk like that, because it wouldn’t end well for everyone.

    I tip my hat to you for not ignoring the commotion and tackling it head on! This is a tremendous follow-up. And it shows that you’re not good with complacency… which is a good thing.

  • ‘J.A.’

    The best answer is, ‘you, too,’ greetings, ‘J.A.,’ the other way around is to intend to answer back.

  • one of the best posts I have read in a  long while. maybe becuase it hits home. Thanks!

  • You’re most welcome. I’m glad this post hit home for you. =)

  • You’re most welcome! These ideas always seemed to be missing part of the equation for me. I’m a big proponent of realistic positive thinking!

  • You are most welcome. I’m glad you found it helpful!

  • Yes, I do recall that post. It seems to be a common reaction whenever someone shares how they quit their 9-5 to pursue their dreams, and I understand it. The reality is not everyone can just do that, without any advance planning or a back up plan.

    I know that a lot of the things I’ve done would not make sense for everyone, because I am single, I don’t have kids, and as a result, I have minimal responsibilities. There were times when I chose to live without health insurance to keep my overhead low (and incidentally, ended up paying several thousands in medical bills). That risk simply would not be smart if I were a mother. And it’s debatable whether it was smart at all, since I’m fortunate I only needed to pay a few thousand and not tens of thousands!

    I personally think we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t question what we really want and then consider how we can accomplish that. But there’s no shame in recognizing we all have different circumstances and needs, and then working around them.

    I’m glad you enjoyed this post. =)

  • Hi there!

    I’ve seen a few of your comments on other posts lately, and to be honest I am a little confused. I don’t full understand what you’re written here. Is there something I can do to help you?

    Much love,

  • Thank you Rissa, and you’re most welcome!

  • Thanks Jeffrey! I am also aware of the blessing/luxury. It can be so challenging to make a living doing something you love, particularly if you want to be in a creative field. There are a lot of inspirational quotes out there that imply it’s all a matter of hard work, but I’ve known a lot of incredibly hard working, talented people who still struggle. There are just so many factors that contribute to what we’re able to do, including timing, connections, and just plain luck. I also believe we can create our own luck by staying the course, even when the odds seem stacked against us. But still, I want people who haven’t yet “succeeded” with their passion to realize it may not be any lack of skill or effort on their part–it’s just plain hard, and there simply are no guarantees.

  • I had a feeling this post might evoke that reaction, at least initially. I’m not a huge fan of flowery, new age jargon, as I feel like it’s only revealing half the picture. I am personally most motivated by realistic positive thinking!

  • Thanks James! I feel the same way about those articles. I generally don’t love books/posts that revolve around the law of attraction, because I think it misses the mark in a few ways:

    First, it encourages us to focus on positive thinking as a means to get things we want, instead of shifting our thoughts for the benefits that accompany an improved mental state.

    Second, it suggests we should focus on specific outcomes, instead of encouraging us to commit to a process with flexibility.

    Lastly, it implies that anyone can create anything with the right mental state, which ignores the fact that we are not the sole determinants of the things that happen. We have immense power in creating our lives, but the reality is we cannot control the future.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. =)

  • Thanks John. I think creative entrepreneurship can be so tricky–at least it has been for me. I am happiest when I don’t focus on making money, but instead focus on writing and working with other writers. I feel fortunate that I have been able to earn enough without really pushing. The thought of regularly rolling out courses, seminars, webinars, etc feels completely unappealing to me. This goes back to the one-size-fits-all idea. What works for me isn’t necessarily what would work for someone else, and vice versa!

  • What a beautiful, insightful comment Jeff! I love what you wrote about us being the in-between space, and also the idea of playing the game without attaching to where you are on the board.

    I have put a lot of thought into not attaching to outcomes/getting caught up in expectations, particularly since launching this site. I find I am happiest when I focus on the day-to-day enjoyment without dwelling on where things may be leading. Trying to force things to happen with a sense of urgency just creates stress, and ultimately sucks the joy out of the process (at least for me).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and also for the kind words about my writing and the site. =)


  • Thanks for this truthful article, Lori. Often, we hear about people telling us to pursue our dreams, but they rarely tell us about the real challenges awaiting us. I can’t help but keep saying ‘yes’ to each of the myth you’ve outlined. There are many, many sacrifices to be made when one decides to pursue one’s dream, and there’s no guarantee that it will be a success. I’m sure any one who’s on this path has questioned his or her decision in more than one occasion. Because the truth is, it’s not all rosy and easy and it can be tremendously lonely. Thank you once again for this fantastic piece of writing. I think you can call yourself a ‘real writer’ now!

  • Thanks WP! I’ve definitely come a long way from my MySpace blogging days. =) I think it’s so important to know what to expect going in. It makes it much easier to sustain motivation when you understand the challenges and risks, and decide you’re prepared to accept them!

  • Malaysian reader

    Thanks Lori for your enlightening post! I am considering to quit my hectic but stable job for a job as a rural school teacher – which excites me everytime I think about it. But point #4 is true and I guess I will take the leap when I’m more financially sound – since I just started work and that buys me some time to build my foundation, and also some experience to ensure I’m not rushing into a decision now. I must say your post gave me a dose of reality but also reassurance that you can live your dreams for those who work towards it and are prepared to make sacrifices along the way!

  • OhanaMama

    I love this, Lori, and can SO relate! Thanks for being so honest and for sharing your process. 

  • You are most welcome. I’m glad you enjoyed this post!

  • Rommel

    Hi Lori, thanks for posting this piece!  Very timely for me as I have begun a new career path and though I am one of the ones that is going to keep his other work while I pursue my passion, I see things looking bright for me and this article has made things a little more clear as to my game plan.  Best, Rommel

  • Hi Lori,
    I think the key factor here is freedom and choice in our professions. We can have all of the material needs in the world met, yet if we are held captive by not having freedom and choice in how and when we earn our money, we will never truly be happy.

  • I couldn’t agree more. I think freedom is enjoying how we spend out time. At least it is for me!

  • You’re most welcome Rommel. Congrats on embarking on a new career!

  • Tin Villagracia

    Every word striked me. I can feel you speaking to me directly. It helped  a lot. Thanks for this. 🙂

  • You’re most welcome. =)

  • Rohit Kshirsagar

    i am a big fan of what tinybuddha offers and keep in touch with what you share here. But this piece had me all tied up. On the first read I completely missed the gist and almost thought that this was heavily negative. Then I forced my self to read and understand this stuff which was very very soul shaking. But as the essence of the article started sinking in, I could relate to it in a better way.

    …and yes, this did force me to take a honest look at my current situation and re-evaluate , replan and more importantly make me realise that I need to live the moment and not let the thoughts of past and   future hypnotize my present.

  • Hi Rohit,

    I can understand why you may have thought that, since I essentially negated some frequently shared conventional wisdom. For a long time, I thought that positive thinking and critical thinking could not coexist, but I’ve found that I feel best equipped to make decisions when I look at things realistically, and then choose a positive perspective based on that.

    I’m glad this was helpful to you!


  • Anonymous

    I think you have thread the needle on this one: it’s still to hold on to our vision and passion, but recognizing it’s not the same as magical thinking: the process is what matters.

    If you were to tell a story to illustrate the point you most valued and would want people growing up to have, what would that be?

    These ideas all have a central theme which I’m working through, which is about resilience.  Yes, the net is still not there.  Yes, sometimes sacrifice or “real work” needs to be done.  But there’s still enjoyment if we’re focused on the process and the truth.

  • Lori,

    Love that you wrote about the myths of passion. I feel like this one is long overdue and I could not have said it better myself.

    Many of us have these really deeply-ingrained ideas behind working for money or working for passion.  But they are just assumptions.. because we want to believe them.

    Gotta work smart, hard, and through it all keep *reality* in front of us — whether that is working for passion or money. Things rarely are as they seem, or how we want them to be.  It can be scary taking the plunge, but with your feet on the ground and your gaze towards the heavens.. things tend to work out as they should 🙂

    Or maybe that’s just another myth of life, haha. 

    – Alex

  • Hi Lori,

    I’m glad I’ve found your blog (via Tamara Gerlach) – I really enjoy your open, direct tone of voice.
    And, I’d also like to add, that there seems to be a rather widely spread misconception that doing what you love equals your own business and job equals working for money. Obviously, that’s not true.

    Personally, I had hardly ever had a job that was only for the money. But still, I was missing the freedom of having my own business and launched one 3+ years ago. For quite a while I shared my time between a job I love (in a kindergarten) and the business I love (coaching, teaching and writing).

    Then, as the business grew sufficiently, I proudly let go of the job and relied on the business alone for about half a year. At first, it was a blast. Then, I started missing the job (the pure playfulness and presence there). Then, life made sure that I went back to the job. 😉

    So now I’m back to half and half, I love both, none of it is motivated by money, and I can truly see how it serves me to have both (they’re complementary in many ways) and how wonderful it is for me to serve others in two quite different way. The job makes me enjoy the business even more and the business makes me enjoy the job even more!

    I think it’s very important to find out for yourself what really fits you, your energy, your interests and last but not least your values, and then go for it. Regardless of what is being said “out there”, the idea that business is heaven and job is hell is ridiculous. It is what you make it.

    Joyful greetings –


  • Thanks Alex. What you wrote at the end made me smile. =)

  • I think the point I most value is actually the one you made–to focus on the process!

  • Lori.

    This was a refreshing topic that I have mused with for quite some time. You’ve lent an upbeat tone to the “what is” about work and not what we fantasize it should be for us. To be honest, I am a huge proponent of waking up each morning and joining in with work that I love. As for some of the myths, they seem to have run a bit rampant with our Western entitlement hook.

    Fortunately, life is much bigger than our work fantasy.

    I find most work shines light in — when I bring my best self to it, relate to it and the people around it with goodwill, and connect to its meaning in my life (even if it’s a paycheck to buy compost). It’s just another venue in life for us to practice the little things.

    Thanks for a great share.

  • You’re most welcome. I love what you wrote in the last paragraph. I feel the same–that when I feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives, doing something that feels personally meaningful, and bringing out the best in myself, I am happy with my work. =)


    i never feel like i’m working! i didnt really choose my work it chose me and thankfully its a amtach made in heaven…. i am happy content and i do what comes easily and naturally..but there are days the phone doesnt ring or for a week… i have to trust be patient and know this is my path… not a paycheck.. and i am guided by universe….to be of service… i am very blessed…
     the law of attraction is no ‘new age’ things its energy its allowing the enrgy to carry you.. and you will find the most amazing places and people….

  • Carol Barham Hoal

    So am I, Lori!  This article was not vague but rather, to the point!  The myths you cited were “spot on!”  I believe, as you stated, that the passion is what fuels the self-actualization phase of “doing what we love.”


  • thanks – i’m actually trying to become a writer and your reassurance here resonates deeply
    thanks lori!

  • You’re welcome noch!

  • M Lippa

    Hi Lori,

    Insightful article for sure. I love your work. I agree following ones passion does bring rewards higher than a monetary gain, however, I suggest significant caution.

    See, I made a huge mistake and put my one egg in one basket. I focused my entire life in emergency services as an EMT – then Paramedic. At 42 I burned wayy out. I did city – busy EMS work. I did not pursue ant education outside of this field.

    At age 6 it was apparent I was a drummer. And throughout the years a good one. But I was cautious to not do this for a living because there are many good drummers and few gigs that would net a lifetime of employment. I should have got a degree in music for the future.

    So I took artistic paths that ‘made me happy’ – graphic design work and sign lettering etc., opening my own business. Things went excellent and crashed in 2009. So I tried Landscaping and love the work – it’s artistic after all … I still own this small business, but it’s hard to live comfortably financially. The artistic world is a tough world to make a decent wage long term. But it is my #1 passion besides medicine.

    Currently I have no idea what I am going to do for the rest of my life, that actually has a consistent source of income. Not sure what to do when I grow up – and I’m 48.

    Thanks, for the great articles.  ~M

  • Hi M~

    I know what you mean. It’s not easy for artists of any kind, for sure. It can be so challenging to know whether you should follow your passion or do something that seems more “reasonable.” On the one hand, we don’t want to limit our ability to experience joy and fulfillment. On the other hand, we need to know the odds stacked against us and have other options to support ourselves if necessary.

    Though I love writing, I know I want to do something else, as well. I’m still deciding what I want to be when I grow up too!

    Wishing you much happiness and fulfillment in your next adventure…


  • I understand the perspective of your post. The issue for most is that it takes what appears to be an enormous amount of risk to pursue our passions, however when we leap into our passions (which at first is the realm of the unknown), that’s when the Universe bends to our desires.

    One of my favorite quotes regarding my core value of Absolute Faith is by Dr. Martin Luther King: “FAITH is taking the first step, even if you don’t see the whole staircase.”

    I don’t know how it works, it just does.


  • Hi Christine,

    I understand your perspective as well! I don’t personally believe that the universe bends to our desires, but I know that for a lot of people, this is a highly inspiring, motivational belief. In the end, we all choose how we see things. Hopefully we make choices that enable us to live the lives we want to live!


  • Kimberley

    Hi, I love your article, it’s a lot more realistic than all the rosy, fairy tale-like things you always hear about turning your passion into your job. I like that. I like being told what to expect rather than being unpleasantly surprised when I “get there”. I was just wondering, you wrote that you started out writing about senior care and I want to know “How did you do that?” How do you keep yourself motivated doing what you love when you’re not actually doing what you love? I mean, when you start out following your dreams you often don’t get to pick and choose. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up and that usually starts with work you don’t want to be doing or even worse, grunt work. So how do you stay motivated? And one more thing. How long have you been doing what you love? And do you still love it, if you don’t take the less fun aspects into account (since every job has those)?

  • I’m glad you found this helpful! In answer to your questions:

    When I first started writing for the senior care website, I was excited just to be getting paid to write full-time. Even though I wasn’t passionate about the topic, I felt like it was a major step in the right direction. And I didn’t completely hate the job, since I knew I was doing something that helped people. (I’d previously worked with developmentally disabled adults, including some in nursing homes, so it wasn’t completely out of left field for me to take this job.)

    I stayed motivated by consistently taking on new freelance work. I wrote travel jobs (for practically nothing) at night. Again, I wasn’t thrilled about the work (since I didn’t actually get to travel as part of the gig) or the pay, but I knew it was building my resume and getting more closer to where I wanted to be.

    I’ve been running this site for over three and half years now, and I’d say this was the start of a far more passionate life. I do still love it, though I’ve redefined my role over time. For the first two and a half years, I wrote every week day, and that was what I enjoyed most. Now I’m editing more for the blog, working on my second book, and focusing on growing the site/business. There were parts that were less fun before, and there still are, but I keep discovering more about what’s fun for me.

  • Americo Zeccardi

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am at a crossroads in my life insofar as I am newly unemployed. I am not young and in this economy don’t have immediate options.
    But I do know there is a place in this world for me. I am going to use this ‘break’ and re-assess my entire work history. So far I have found a disturbing trend that you pointed out for yourself in that I have taken jobs that were convenient (a paycheck) over any sort of satisfying. Not that living indoors isn’t nice but it HAS to be about more than paying bills. At least that is the decision I have made.

    Now is a very exciting and somewhat scary time for me. Thanks for helping.

  • You’re most welcome. Congrats on your new beginning. =)

  • JJ

    Thanks for your article, it helped me. I know my passion and I know it gives my life meaning but it’s also not as straight forward as those dreams that other people have, like being a writer or a popstar. My dream involves working with sick animals, and sometimes I get confused and frustrated as to why I don’t enjoy every second of it. I’ve always made choices to set me on a path that would allow me to look back at a ripe old age and say- I never worked a day in my life because I loved what I did. But when I read myth #3 I realize that that’s just not the case with me, because the dream that chose me just isn’t that kind. My work has bad days and gets me down sometimes. I just have to teach myself that that doesn’t mean any less.

  • You’re most welcome. I really do believe that’s something we all experience with our “dream jobs”–there are parts we love, and other parts that we don’t enjoy as much. I’m glad this was helpful to you. =)

  • thank you for busting these myths. very motivating. Nice post.

  • Marc

    Hello Lori, I can recognize something in point 3. I had a colleague who constantly claimed he made his hobby his profession. I am a software programmer. Many people did not like him. Anything that was not ‘his hobby’, documentation, meetings, even cleaning the coffee machine, he would refuse to do. So much that people got irritated about it. It was one of the worse and unsympathetic colleagues I ever had.

  • You’re most welcome!

  • I can understand why that would be annoying! I think for everyone who makes a living, there’s some element of the work they don’t love–but barring this kind of blatant refusal (which I’m guessing eventually leads to trouble), there’s no way to get around that.

  • morejoy68

    As a person who fears risk, I found this advice somewhat depressing. The things you write are technically accurate, but the tone is a little bit scolding and dreary. These are all things I have told myself, and they have never helped me to achieve anything. I have achieved more goals following less “realistic” models, taking more risks, doing things that I “realistically” should not have been able to do. (These things include: going to an Ivy League school, getting a Ph.D., getting a job in a city where I had been repeatedly told that I couldn’t get a job.)

    The fact is that most people are very pragmatic and follow this advice to the point of never risking anything, which is why so many people are unhappy with their choices. I suggest adding another inspirational sentence at the end that combines the “realistic” advice with a motivating message.

  • Rhymis

    Awesome post! I love the last one, because it’s what a lot of people keep saying and many have been “led astray” because they thought they’d be living a life without sweat every day. I agree wholeheartedly with you that it takes a lot of hard work and that there will always be an aspect of your “passion” that you don’t like. I know I don’t like marketing, too, but if I want to get a writing job or get a book published, I’m gonna have to thicken my face for that 😉

  • Thanks so much. I’m glad you found it helpful! So true, about writing. It’s certainly not easy, but it definitely is possible. I hope your hard work pays off! =)

  • taylor

    This article is ridiculous if you want to do something you love and if you truly love It you will find a way to make it your income and a large income at that. These are not myths how dare you scare people from thier dreams the world already does that enough. If you dont have faith and leap you will always be at the edge wondering. If we dont belive and start to think outside of reality we will never fully achieve our dreams, we will just end up struggling for a pay check at a boring job. I understand your points that you made, but its that kind of worriesome thinking that holds us all back. If you want something your grind and hustle until you get it, be prepared to die for your dreams and one day the will slowy start to become reality. Its not easy but anythings possible with grind and hustle ANYTHING.

  • Hi Taylor,

    I really appreciate your passion for this topic, as I too want to encourage people to take a leap and go for their dreams. I do think, however, it’s important to know going in that there will be challenges. *Dwelling* on the challenges can hold us back, but understanding and preparing for them can make it a lot easier to keep going when we may be tempted to give up.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  • Diana Wallauer

    I may be older but I call bull shit.

  • Lucas Simon

    Well this sure is a depressing truth, isn’t it? I’m not saying I’m not willing to accept it, but it certainly makes life feel really fucking bleak and meaningless. If even finding your passion won’t be fulfilling, then what the hell is even the point of living?

  • Hi Lucas,

    I intended to convey that even when we do work we love, there will be parts that feel challenging or less enjoyable. That doesn’t mean it’s any less fulfilling. For me, it was helpful to embrace this fact, because it allowed me to set my expectations and helped me keep going in spite of the inevitable challenges.

    And though it might not seem this way on the surface, difficulties can be a good thing. When I look back at all the challenges I’ve faced in running this site/working on related projects, I recognize they’ve provided me with amazing opportunities for growth. I’ve learned so much about myself, what I want, where my strengths lie, and how I can improve my weaknesses. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do any of those things if the past six years were all smooth sailing.

    Just some additional food for thought!


  • Lucas Simon

    Ok. I get it. Sorry for being rude. All the best to you.

  • No problem. I didn’t think you were rude – just discouraged.

  • Saada M.

    Hey Lori,

    A thought provoking and amazing article!

    You touched a cord with all the fears that I wade through when thinking about pursuing my passion. I always felt that pursuing what I love to do could not be a path full of roses and so I did not buy into all the fancy articles and advice that urges us to drop everything now and run after our dreams regardless of all our responsibilities and obligations. Our lives are just like a quilt that should be woven with a plan ahead to make it a meaningful piece of art. As Jeff mentioned earlier a “middle path” is a more realistic and balanced option.

    The “in-between-space” seems quite a reasonable and comfy place to hang in!


  • Hi Saada,

    Thanks so much, and sorry for the slow response! I love that quilt analogy. That’s a great way to put it! =)


  • Natalie Hill

    Absolutely beautiful article Lori. I am so impressed and inspired. Thank you so much. Natalie

  • Thanks so much, Natalie, and you’re most welcome! =)

  • Eddie

    I love the website , perspectives and your beautiful . Thank you for a great website , I am trying to work on my grammer but dont know where to start . Im 23 and as a rebel its not easy . Now am slowly but surely getting where I need to get.

  • You’re most welcome, Eddie. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the site! Your grammar looks good to me. =)

  • As always, your writing is amazing, spot-on and insightful! Interesting too as I just wrote a blog yesterday about how I discovered caregiving as part-time work to do while I established myself as a speaker and writer … and subsequently, although I haven’t been doing a lot of speaking or writing lately, I HAVE created a life I love. I didn’t know my leap would land me here and I haven’t given up on writing, but what you say about our capacity for soaring through the unknown and learning from the landing is so true! I am so grateful for you and for Tiny Buddha for all the wisdom I have found, shared and continue to discover here!

    Much love!

  • Thanks, Shannon! That’s wonderful that you now feel you’re living a life you love. I’m so happy for you. Much love back to you! =)

  • Naomi Nissen

    Hi Lori, I’m really glad you posted this. I jumped online in a moment of frustration with my current job (one of a long string of them…) I completely agree that New-Agey ideas are simplistic and antagonizing: just do this and you’ll get everything you love!! And really, kind of a come-on – making you feel like there’s something wrong with you because you just can’t get to that nirvana. Well, I’m a hard working single mother facing daunting financial challenges: living in costly New York City, saving for college for my young teen, and saving for retirement at the same time. There’s so much I’d rather be doing; but just from having been unemployed for some periods at a time, I know how unrealistic that is. So, here I sit, at least taking a mental break and feeling like you’ve given me a thumbs up and a big smile.

  • Hi Naomi ~ My apologies for my slow response. I’m glad this was affirming to you, and I hope things get a little less frustrating with your job!

  • guruurug

    Success = dumb luck

    You are either lucky, have rich parents or you have good looks. For most people, it’s dumb luck.

  • Juardeen Smith Morris

    VERY TRUTHFUL. I really appreciate how you referenced Maslow Theory, it illuminates the perspective on doing what one loves.

  • I’m glad you found this helpful, Juardeen!

  • tina

    thank you!

  • Claire Dyaz

    dear author. Don’t mislead yourself and others. It’s not cool! It’s not a myth that if you do what you love the money will follow. If you do what u love the money always! follows. If you think that’s not true then you have serious issues with money and your real passion!
    then leap and the net will appear. it’s always! true as well. it’s not a myth. it’s more like a fact. Then you will never work a day in your life. Yes. Again. True. You will do a lot but it won’t be work for you. It will be great fun. If its not then maybe you should do what you love. Then anyone can decide anyone to do what they love. Yes exactly this is how it works. But most people don’t like responsibility.

  • Freesoul Fatima Ali

    A very well-written article.