Despite what some well-meaning enthusiasts say, just because you follow your bliss does not guarantee that you will succeed. In fact, such a philosophy is full of possible roadblocks. These are almost never discussed in new age or popular self-help books, so I am going to share a few of them with you here.
In his well-researched book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport states this argument well. Although the author has little understanding of introspection or mindfulness, he brilliantly describes the most common errors that some naïve new agers make in this regard. Much of what I have learned from first-hand experience strongly supports many of Newport’s arguments. Here are several of the most relevant.
- While many of us do have general innate passions and abilities, it is naïve to believe that you have only one true calling, or that you have to put your life on hold until you find that one thing. In fact, as Newport writes, people often develop their great passions after they begin to master a skill or craft. They often learn to love what they do. So don’t wait until life finds you. Bring love and presence to whatever you do, and you will find your “purpose” in the light that shines through you.
- The courage culture is a simplistic fallacy. The “courage culture” is the naïve idea – popularised in many well-meaning self-help books – that the most important step in living your bliss is having the courage to make a sudden change of life orientation, such as quitting your current job or moving to your dream location. Having courage is not enough. You need to be well prepared, and ideally, have some career capital in your new field (see next point).
- It can be disastrous to try to suddenly change professions without having established any “career capital” in your new field. You cannot expect to instantly demand credibility in an entirely new field. Just because you love software, does not mean that software companies will open their arms to you when you quit your day job as an office clerk. In such a scenario, the wannabe-IT guy would need to gradually develop a reputation and connections in his new field.
- It is erroneous to believe that expertise will come simply because you love doing something; because you spend time doing the thing you love. In other words, you need to appreciate the need for “deliberate practice”. Many people believe that you need about 10 000 hours of quality, focused, systemic time to master a field. Are you prepared to be that focused and to work that hard?
- Believing that following your passion is always joyful is naïve. Firstly, there will be times when things will be difficult, where you will face failure and rejection. And secondly, all that time required to develop mastery via repeated practice can be less than exciting!
- Trying to develop a business out of a skill or service that nobody is willing to pay for is futile. If you don’t know of anybody who can “buy” your passion, it’s not a business. It’s a hobby. That in itself is fine – as long as you are not depending upon it to pay the bills!
- The popular idea of following your bliss can create obsessive self-interest, rather than generosity of spirit. In other words, the naïve new-ager may come to see his calling as being about self-gratification. In fact, many of the great masters of passion that we hear about – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Martin Luther King, Einstein, da Vinci and so on, focused on being of service to others, not on satisfying themselves.
I’m not suggesting that you abandon the idea of working in your dream job or doing what you love. After all, my book Discover Your Soul Template is all about doing just that. But do keep your feet on the ground, and take into consideration the realities of the world of money and markets.
Note: This post is a short extract from my upcoming book Champion of the Soul.