Don’t turn your passion into a job

May 31, 2022

Almost all my life I’ve had the fortune to do things for a living I’ve been passionate about.

My first career straight out of high school was being a pro snowboarder.

After that, I went after my other childhood dream of becoming a concept designer for Hollywood movies (you know, drawing monsters and spaceships).

Then I made a pivot and started an online mental coaching business for athletes and entrepreneurs, wrote my first book and created multiple online training courses.

But then I stepped on a pile of doo-doo. The coaching business was not paying the bills and I got a burnout, ran out of money and had a baby on the way.

That’s when I had no other choice but to get a job. Before that, I always chose the path I was most passionate about.

So I got a job as a web designer. It was something I’d done as a hobby and as a side gig for twenty years.

That career turned into a digital product designer and that’s where I’m at.

Now I have side projects where I get to do whatever the heck I want. I also have a career I really enjoy. 

I think people make a big mistake turning their passion into a job. A good job is something where you get to do the things you want to get better at. And you also have to do things you’re not so stoked on. Maybe that’s why it’s called a J.O.B.

A hobby on the other hand is something where you get to do whatever you want. There are no limits, no boundaries, and no one telling you what to do. If you don’t want to do something you don’t need to do it.

In a job, there are other people involved, different opinions and people who might decide for you and against you. It’s a game of navigation.

When I became an entrepreneur I got to do what I loved the most which was helping athletes overcome the mental obstacles I’d learned to overcome in snowboarding.

But then I also had to do everything else. All the shit shoveling from bookkeeping to making sure people pay on time. 

And there was one crucial thing I didn’t like doing. Sales. If you run a solo business and you don’t do enough sales and marketing you won’t sell your products and services. 

If you like the doing, the product or the service part, running your own business is not about those. It’s about everything else around the product or the service.

If you like cooking, running a restaurant is not about making food. It’s about marketing, hiring, firing, finance, etc. Unless you hire other people do the rest. But then you’re still doing the hiring and making sure people are happy and not about making delicious food.

That was a tough lesson for me. But an important one.

Having a job you like is important. Having a hobby you love and are passionate about is also important. Sometimes these two don’t mix. Most of the time they won’t. Unless you want to do things you don’t want to do.

Snowboarding for fun slowly changed as my career progressed and it stopped being as fun as it first had been.

I never did concept design as a work because designing imaginary guns that kill (even if it was space monsters) didn’t align with my values so I didn’t pursue that career.

Have a hobby you enjoy. Find a job or a career you enjoy. And if you love running a business, do that. But still have hobbies.

A black and white photo of the author Jussi's smiling face with shortcut hair and a short beard
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