What Happens When You Don’t Follow Your Passion?

by John McIntyre

This is a guest post by William Lyth. William is a freelance copywriter who specializes in delivering fresh, clean-cut, copy to boost your business! Say hello to William at williamlythcopywriter.com.

Passion is a harmless word, but when you’re still searching for your passion, it’s an irritating word to hear.

For years in my teens and early twenties, I stood around in poorly-paid jobs, thinking to myself:

“What am I going to be doing in a few years time?”

I was frustrated because I had plenty of drive and ambition, yet no idea what to do with it!

Maybe you know what this feels like…

This went on, and on, until eventually, I realized that I couldn’t go on.

I had to do something new, and it didn’t have to be big or clever, it just needed to be something different.

So, I got another job — a 6-month contract with a different shop – ON BOARD A CRUISE SHIP!

When I boarded the ship, I planned to go all-out, enjoy myself, go wherever the night takes me, don’t think beyond the present day, and especially don’t think about what to do when I would return home.

So that’s what I did.

Good times (lol).

Unfortunately, those 6 months soon flew by and before I knew it, I was back home.

Notepad of ideas


My first week back, I had no interest in drinking alcohol or parties; I wanted to sink my teeth into something that I truly wanted but I still didn’t know what that was.

I ended up taking the first full-time job I was offered (you guessed it), another shop.

It was like those few months at sea never happened and I was back at square 1… again.

I met up with a friend that week who was trying to break into journalism at the time, and I recall feeling envious that he was knocking on the door of his dream job. He was tired from the extra work he was doing outside of his current job but he didn’t care at all; he was on the right road.

Through the night we talked about many things and for some reason, I distinctly remembered him saying he had recently re-read one of his favorite books, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye.

I wasn’t really one for reading books back then, but after his recommendation I bought the book and read it within in two days. I went through book after book, I couldn’t stop.

I was obsessed.

One night I came home and I saw I’d left my MacBook on, so I started to write.

Typing on laptop

What was I writing?

I wrote about anything and everything.

It didn’t matter. I’d finally found something I was passionate about.

From that day forward, there was a spring in my step. My day-job became easier (for the time being), because I knew what I wanted to do.

All I had to do now was figure out how to get there.

We all know that there’s never going to be a perfect time, yet many of us still wait our whole lives for it.

I had nothing to lose.

I didn’t like my job and I knew if things took a turn for the worse, I could have moved back in with my parents’ house until I got myself together.

This was the perfect time to try and find a paid writing gig, but I let my doubts get the better of me.

I put my passion for writing “on hold…” and I decided to learn how to code instead…

Why coding?

Because I wanted more money. Because it seemed like a smart decision as there are plenty of job opportunities in web development. Because my friends were progressing with their careers so I felt pressured into doing the same.

Basically, I stopped believing in my own dream and my own passion, and gave into society’s script.

“Maybe after a few months I’ll have some money behind me and then I can get my freelance writing off the ground from there.”, I foolishly thought.

The problem?

I settled into web development a little too well.

With a laid-back office, decent salary, free beer, and great colleagues, I wasn’t thinking about writing as much. My passion had taken a backseat in my mind to mediocrity.

Mediocrity is the killer.

My job kept me content and I didn’t feel like putting myself in a risky position to pursue writing. (Never confuse being content for being happy — they are NOT the same.)

Two years later… I’m still a web developer… except now I hate it! (And I don’t use the word hate cheaply.)

I’m not bashing web development — not at all. It’s a fantastic job with incredible career prospects and great earning potential, but for me — it was a waste of time because I had no interest in it whatsoever.

It was “just a job” to me that became tougher each week. I had to invest lots of time into learning new programming languages. These are challenging languages to learn even for those WHO WANT to pursue a career in web development… they’re infinitely harder when you only learn them because you have to.

Although I was going to work each day in a bad mood, there was one great thing about this job:

I got to work with a team of copywriters.

I had never heard of copywriting before…

I knew I always wanted to be a writer since I started typing that night, but I wasn’t sure what kind of writer I wanted to be.

And now I knew.

I wanted to be a copywriter.

More procrastination

I’d started building my website while searching for clients but I wasn’t giving it my all. I would write some copy for someone and receive great feedback, yet — I felt like my website needed to be perfect before I fully committed to marketing myself as a copywriter.

I just didn’t feel “ready” enough.

And then… it happened

I woke up one Monday morning, tired, apathetic and completely burnt out. I had many opportunities to leave this job but I didn’t make the jump.

So with absolutely nothing lined up — I handed in my notice, because my job was unbearable.

The next few months involved: poorly paid writing jobs, (slightly better-paid) in-house writing jobs, and the occasional wave of anxiety!

That being said, I coped with it.

Working towards passion

I had finally soothed that nagging part of my brain and I was taking action to give it what it craved.

Things soon picked up!

I hustled to keep on searching for clients, I networked and gave my business card to everyone I met. Eventually, it got to a point where I had a steady flow of work coming in.

I finally found myself with the life I wanted. I was a writer, and I now LOVED my “job”.

When you follow your passion, just putting yourself out there and going for it brings a sense of satisfaction and joy that’s hard to describe.

As an ex-professional procrastinator, I urge you:

If you know what your passion is — do not wait!

Waiting only makes the process much more complicated than it needs to be.

My transition could have been much easier.

Pursuing your passion may take up your “free time” if you’re already working — but this is temporary, and if it’s something you’re passionate about — you won’t mind at all — you’ll enjoy it, as you build-up momentum.

And while those first few months may be challenging at times, if you throw yourself into it with relentless focus — It will happen, and you’ll be left wondering why you put it off for so long!

This is a guest post by William Lyth, a freelance copywriter. Get William’s FREE website copy report (and contact Will for anything else, including copywriting services) here: williamlythcopywriter.com

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