If you can’t do the things you enjoy, learn to enjoy the things you do.
This quote is paraphrased from Ali Abdaal’s video on Long-Lasting Productivity.
I was reminded about it while listening to the latest episode of The Side Hustle Show, where Nick and his guest Alan Donegan talk about How to Start a Business You Care About.
One of the points Alan makes is about starting a business around a passion or something that excites you. His point is that running a business you’re passionate about sets you apart from the competition and makes the process so much easier.
This sounds great. We all want to do what we love and ideally get paid to do it.
But what if your passion doesn’t have a clear path to becoming a business or a career for you? Not everyone is in a position to give up their day job to pursue a passion project which may or may not work.
So what is the alternative?
As Cal Newport says in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You,
“Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”
What Cal means here is rather than trying to find something you’re passionate about to turn into a business or career, focus instead on becoming excellent at what you’re already doing (or are able to easily start doing) to the point where you become passionate about the thing.
Paul Millerd shares a similar sentiment in his book The Pathless Path. The book is about doing what you enjoy and learning when to say NO so that you can continue to do what you love.
“The assumption is that making money or finding a way to turn a passion into a job is one of the most important things. While money is important on the pathless path, using it as a filter for finding the work worth doing, especially at first, is a mistake.”
Paul is saying here that money is essential, but it should not be the driver. Instead, a vital aspect of the pathless path is learning when to say NO to allow you to focus on the work that’s worth doing.
Thinking about my own career, I can confidently say that I hated programming while studying Computer Science at university. I was passionate about music and design and I wanted to make a career out of combining the two. It just never happened and I ended up becoming a web developer.
It was only until I gained enough experience and properly understood programming paradigms that I really started to enjoy the work and develop a passion for it.
So, focus on becoming excellent at your craft, see your hard work pay off and you’ll find that you truly do love what you do.