Should You Do What You Love?

There is a saying that goes something like this; “Do what you love and the money will follow.” It is also the name of a book that was popular for quite a while. But is it true? Sort of. Okay, that’s not a very inspiring answer, but these things are rarely black and white.

In any case, how much of your life do want to spend doing things you hate or that cause you boredom? So even if we rework the saying to “Do what you love and the money might come,” that thought ought to be enough motivation to get you going in the direction of your passions. But let’s look at some research to see how likely this is to work.

Here’s a short excerpt from the book Secrets of Lucky People:

In 1960, psychologist Srully Blotnik set up a study to track the lives of people who wanted to become wealthy. He started with 1,500 people, split into two groups. The first group was the largest, with 1,245 people. These individuals each said that they would try to get rich first, and afterwards would pursue their passions. In other words, they planned to chase after money, hoping that this would someday make it easier to do the things they really wanted to do.

The second group had just 255 people. These individuals all said that they would follow their passions and interests first, and trust that money would come somehow. They shared a “Do what you love and the money will follow” philosophy.

What happened? Twenty years later Blotnik had lost track of a few hundred of the people, as can be expected. Some of them undoubtedly died or had moved and couldn’t be located. But among the remaining people in the two groups, there were 83 millionaires.

Remember that all of the people in both groups said they wanted to be wealthy. These 83 millionaires were evidence that the desire to become wealthy can certainly help. In fact, about 8% of the people he could locate were millionaires, while at the time less than 1% of the general adult population were.

However, the really interesting part of the study is which group those millionaires came from. Of the 83, only one came from the first group, the people who said that they would try to get rich first, and afterwards would pursue their passions. 82 of them came from the smaller second group, the people who said they would follow their passions and interests first, and trust that money would come somehow.

That’s a pretty amazing statistic, isn’t it? 1 out of 1,245 became a millionaire in the first group, versus 82 out of 255 in the second. I’ll do the math for you: This seems to indicate that you are 400 times more likely to become wealthy if you follow your passions rather than chase after money.

Do what you love and the money seems likely to follow. Of course there will be times where you have to do things you don’t want to do, and even times when you have to keep a hated job for a while. I once worked for years at a decent but boring job so I could pay off my first home and save money to travel. I love the business I’m in now — writing about whatever interests me and making money doing it. But I still have tedious tasks that are a part of it.

Many internet marketers will tell you to forget about your passions and create websites on hot topics and high-value keywords. I can tell you that I could never write the thousands of pages and articles I have written if they were about things of no interest to me. I also could never have sustained my motivation during those first six months when my wife and I made almost nothing online if I was creating sites that bored me.

On the other hand, I am blessed with many interests. That has meant that I can afford the time spent on our poetry site that makes forty dollars annually because others that are also based on passions make hundreds of dollars per month each. The lesson in that is perhaps to follow your passions, but start with those that are most likely to make money for you.

Sometimes there may not be a financial reward. For example, I love to play chess, and do so every week at a local coffee house, but it would bore me to tears to write about chess, and I can’t think of any way to make much money playing (I’m not good enough to win big prizes nor willing to study that hard). So do what you love, and if the money doesn’t come, do it anyway and find another way to make money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *