Everything You've Been Told About Passion is a Lie

10 Jun 2024

"Follow your passion and you'll never work a day in your life." We've all heard it, right? It's the ultimate career advice. But what if I told you that this popular mantra is complete bullshit? Yes, you read that right. Here's why everything you've been told about passion is wrong—and what you should focus on instead.

How many times did you feel passionate about something, only to find out later that it was a fleeting interest? Remember that time you said “I’m for sure going to become a world-class chef after binge-watching 15 episodes of "MasterChef"? Or when you convinced yourself you were destined to be a Rockstar, but then you gave up before the 10th guitar lessons? Yeah, I’ve been there too.

Think about it for a second. Your passions might be fun and all, but they rarely pay the bills. Do they even bring the satisfaction you’re looking for? Constantly chasing what you love can blind you to what you’re really good at and what the world needs from you.

So instead of following your passion, why not leverage the power of your dislikes?

Sounds crazy? Stick with me, and I'll show you why focusing on what you hate might just be the most liberating and productive decision you'll ever make.

When you’re blind and under water, it’s hard to see.

Last year, this time, I was a proud business owner. 10 employees, 37 contractors, Flipping 100+ homes per year. Sounds awesome, right?

That was the most stressful, unfulfilling time of my life. I was under so much pressure that I didn’t even realize I needed to get unstuck.

I was too blind to see I was chasing the wrong things, and didn’t want to let go of the thing I built 6 years prior. I was miserable, but I wasn’t smart enough to realize that I hated:

  • dealing with employees and being a boss.

  • handling client complaints.

  • dealing with East Side Cleveland tenants all day.

  • working on articles and videos I couldn't care less about.

It finally took a personal and professional burnout for me to realize that most of the things I was doing, I truly hated.

This brings us to a widespread misconception The Passion Fallacy. Or, as I like to call it: Society’s biggest myth.

You know that mantra: "Follow your passion." You see it everywhere. Posters, quoted by self-help gurus, and proclaimed as the ultimate career advice. Society glorifies the idea of finding and following your passion like it’s some sort of holy grail. The underlying message is simple: if you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, you’re wasting your life.

Think about how many speeches you’ve heard that go something like, "Find what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life." Yeah. Love the theory, but it’s also a load of crap.

Let’s get real. Most people don’t have a single, all-consuming passion. And even if they do, turning that passion into a career is often a different story.

You think Steve Jobs started Apple because he was passionate about building computers? No. His motive was the frustration with the lack of control over hardware and software integration.

Here’s the thing: when you chase your passion, you’re often setting yourself up for frustration. Why? Because passion alone isn’t enough. Passion can fade when faced with the realities of what it takes to succeed in that given field.

Sometimes, making your passion your job can actually kill the joy you once found in it. The pressure to succeed can turn something you love into something you dread.

Instead of obsessing over finding and following your passion, why not focus on what you hate?

I know.. I know. This sound counterintuitive. Just hear me out.

By identifying what you hate, you can gain clarity on what you should avoid. This negative clarity can often be more useful than the slippery search for passion. It helps you set boundaries and make decisions that align more closely with who you are.

What you need to understand is that passion is just one piece of the puzzle. You can’t forget about

  • skills

  • market demand

  • personal values

So stop beating yourself up for not having a burning passion to follow. Embrace what you hate and use it to guide you towards a more fulfilling path.

The Power of Knowing What You Hate

When you know what you hate, you gain a powerful tool: clarity. Clarity to avoid unproductive paths. Clarity to set boundaries, and to make decisions that align with your true self.

For instance, I realized I hated the bureaucratic nonsense of corporate life. So, I started looking for things that valued autonomy and creativity. I didn’t just want a different hobby; I wanted a different kind of life all together.

Psychological Insight: The Science Behind It

Ever heard of Negativity Bias? This is your brain’s tendency to focus and remember more on negative experiences than positive ones. Sounds like a bad thing? Well, it isn’t—at least for our use case. Negative experiences stick with you longer and shape your behavior more than positive ones. It’s a real phenomenon studied by psychologists and has significant implications for how we navigate our lives.

I’m sure you don’t recall every text message you’ve sent in your life. But you definitely remember the time you accidentally sent a “Alex is really a piece of shit for making us work until 7pm. I mean, does this loser not have a life?” rant about your annoying boss... to your annoying boss.

Avoidance Motivation is another powerful concept I think you should know about. It’s the drive to avoid negative outcomes rather than achieve positive ones. Think of it as a distant cousin to Negativity Bias. What this means is that you’re more motivated to avoid negative experiences than to seek positive ones.

Why do you think you keep showing up to a job you hate? It’s obviously not because you love it. It’s because you want to avoid the negative outcome of getting fired. This powerful force should be harnessed to propel you towards better decisions.

Look at Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber. He didn’t start Uber because he was passionate about ride-sharing. He was fed up with the inefficiencies in the taxi industry.

When you understand what you don’t want, you can more effectively pursue what you do want.

By embracing what you hate, you gain the clarity and motivation needed to steer clear of unproductive paths and focus on what truly matters to you.

Embrace Your Dislikes to Find Your Path

Let’s talk about being brutally honest with yourself and pinpointing the pain points in your life. Think about the activities you do at work or in your business that you absolutely hate. You know, the ones you procrastinate on, the ones that suck the energy out of you and make time drag. I’ll go first.

For me, it was my Tuesday morning meetings. 15+ people on the call, each with their hidden agendas, trying to do anything but take responsibility for not following processes put in place.

Managing an out-of-state team of real estate contractors at a distance? Yeah, that was a good idea, buddy. No control over the outcome, which made relying on teams to provide results I was responsible for a living hell.

The pressure of having all these employees? It became unbearable. When business was good, no problem. But during tough months, the thought of having all these families depending on the company's performance (me) to pay their bills was dreadful. Best part? Some thought it was the best time to ask for raises.

Anyway, I made a list of the things I hated the most:

  • Long, useless meetings with a lot of people. Meetings.

  • Relying out-of-state teams to provide results I was ultimately responsible for.

  • Having a bunch of employees.

Once I identified what you I hate, finding the opposite become easier:

  • I will not have meetings.

  • I will have a one person business.

  • I will choose who I work with.

  • I results I produce for my clients will be 100% in my control.

Now, I focus on writing and consulting. No employees, no pointless meetings, no pressure from managing a large team. Just me, my thoughts, and my words.

What’s the takeaway?

By focusing on what you hate, you gain a level of clarity that the concept of “passion” just doesn’t provide. It’s like clearing away the clutter to see what’s truly important. When you identify and eliminate the things that drain you, you make room for those that energize and fulfill you.

Don’t follow your passion. Focus on what you hate.

Let your dislikes guide you to a more authentic, fulfilling life. Don’t settle for mediocrity and frustration. Take control, harness the power of what you hate, and use it to propel yourself towards real success.

What Can You Do Next?

Reflect: Take some time to identify the things in your life and work that you truly hate.

Act: Start eliminating these elements, one by one, and notice the clarity and energy that follow.

Share: Join the conversation. Share your thoughts and experiences with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Strategizingly yours,


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