Over the course of the past few weeks, I've been seeing a ton of hate on the idea of following your passion. I understand the reasons that people are explaining, but the reasons aren't valid when you're pursuing passion successfully.
If you're interested in following your passion from a different angle that doesn't lead to burn-out and over-working yourself, this blog post should clear some of that up.
What Is Passion?
Passion comes in all shapes and sizes. It can be baking, playing video games, taking walks, talking to others, and anything else that brings you enjoyment.
In the tech field, we tend to see a ton of verbiage around passion, which typically sounds like the three points below:
- You should be passionate about your work
- If you're passionate, you should work a ton and hustle
- Hustling is the only way to move forward with your passion
The three points listed above are entirely incorrect.
Passion is about doing what you love to do. That's it. It doesn't mean work yourself to the core, forget about everything else, etc.
Passion is about something you like to do every single day and that you're excited to do when you wake up in the morning.
And this doesn't mean work...
Although, a lot of tech professionals are passionate about their work. Because they're passionate about their work, they get sucked into the never-ending vortex of the hustle culture and burning themselves out. Which, in-turn, makes them lose the passion they once felt for their craft.
Not Burning Out
The biggest thing I see in the tech space is burn out. People are working themselves to the core, typically with shallow work.
Shallow work consists of:
- Constant meetings
- Checking email
- Checking social media
- Multiple interruptions
This type of shallow work is why I follow a philosophy called Deep Work, which allows me to set aside all distractions in X amount of hours.
This deep work, which doesn't consist of meetings that are unnecessary and emails that don't need to be responded to right away, allows me to continue to be passionate about what I'm working on without burning out.
During Deep Work hours, I work on what I want to work on and enjoy what I'm doing. However, I don't do this 24/7 or 14 hours per day (more on this in the coming section, Scheduling Your Day)
The Hustle Culture
Have you ever looked up motivational quotes or what others that are famous do? A lot of what you'll see is something along the lines of hustle hard, put in the time, work as much as you can, and then you will succeed.
That's bullshit, and you must start to understand that it's bullshit.
The hustle culture is probably, one of the most toxic things I've seen throughout my career as a technology professional.
It puts a few different ideas in your head:
- You must work long hours to be successful
- You must always be thinking about work
- You must work weekends, holidays, all hours of the night, etc.
It's an awful way of thinking, and that thinking leads to burnout and no longer being passionate for your craft.
I can guarantee you, without a doubt in my mind, that if you stop working 14 hours per day, give your mind a break, and have recovery periods where you aren't work, you will get more done and the work you get done will be more satisfying.
Not to mention you'll get way more quality work done...
Scheduling Your Day
You may be asking yourself Well Mike, how in the heck do I do this? How do I give myself these breaks? With a schedule.
Below is my daily schedule. I'm not saying you need to follow it like this to a T, but you can make one for yourself.
As you can see, I schedule out everything. When I go to the gym, when I enhance my skills, when I go into deep work, and when I stop working for the day.
The one thing to point out is schedules sometimes don't always go as expected, and that's okay. At the time of writing this, today, I did not start work until 9:30 due to not feeling all that great this morning (some sort of head cold).
That doesn't mean I'm going to throw out the schedule and feel bad that I didn't get it done.
It means I'll pick up where I left off and start fresh tomorrow.
Another example of this is I have a 4-year old, and sometimes he doesn't have school or he gets sick, so what do I do? I stop my schedule, write down for that day why I had to stop the schedule, and move on, starting fresh the next day.
Another example, because I wasn't feeling good today and started work at 9:30 AM, I wrote down in my journal:
- 2/18/2021 - Wasn't feeling great and quite tired. Started my day at 9:30 AM
Being Passionate Does Not Mean You're Self-centered
Another thing that I wanted to nip in the butt is the idea that being passionate does not mean you're self-centered. Your work is your work and your passion is your passion. If you aren't doing things for someone else, that doesn't make you self-centered, it makes you self-reliant and focused.
However, there are tons of jobs that you can be passionate about while still helping others.
For example, I'm the CTO at CloudSkills.io, and the one thing I wanted to ensure when taking a C-Level position is that I'd still be writing code everyday and still be an engineer.
So how do I do that? By creating courses, doing live streams, consulting, and teaching others.
My passion is my work and staying focused, but my huge passion is also helping the community and being a trainer.
I say again, passion does not make you self-centered. It makes you self-reliant.
No One Owes You Anything
Another big thing I've seen from passionate people is the expectation from others that you owe them something. You owe them an email back or a DM back. This isn't the case.
You are your own creator. You make the rules for your destiny.
If you don't respond to an email, that's okay. If you don't respond to a DM, that's okay. If you're truly busy and simply can't respond right away or if it's something that you don't have interest in, that's okay.
No one owes you anything and you don't owe anyone anything.
This doesn't mean you aren't humble or a nice person. It means you're assertive and focused on what you're doing.. and you have to be.
Otherwise, guess what? You'll burn yourself out.