YD Talks: Should I follow my passion? Or the paycheck?

The irony of me being an Asian posing this question doesn’t escape me. I fully get that I’m absolutely following the cliche here, but let’s stop and really think about it. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this too at some point of time. Do I continue doing what I love, if it doesn’t pay me much? Or do I do something that I absolutely dislike, but feels more stable?


Let’s just dive right into the topic and get to the point I’d like to make, and that Chris Do (in the video above) makes too. Chris says “If you don’t feel it in your bones, don’t waste your time. I know people who pursued money, who aren’t happy… and who aren’t rich”. Here’s a secret that most people won’t tell you: You’re not presented with a choice. You’re presented with the illusion of choice… Passion/love, and money/stability. You can choose to do something you love… but you can’t really choose how much money you make. The amount you earn isn’t entirely within your control, but the ability to do something you truly enjoy, is. Your pay-package is controlled by external forces. Passion for what you do, is completely internal.
(And everything is linked to one big parameter. Effort. More on it below!)


Here’s a scenario. You’re a passionate designer who sketches every day. Follows Ted Nugent on Instagram, participates in the Render Weekly challenges and is always on the lookout for Esben Oxholm’s Keyshot videos, or Sam Gwilt’s sketching tutorials. Your dream is to work as an industrial designer in one of the world’s most reputed design studios, but on the other hand, there are a tonne of UI UX jobs available that pay a lot and provide a comfortable life. The flipside is that somewhere, there’s someone who’s equally passionate about Web Design. They’re on Dribbble, always updated with everything UI/UX, and dreams of being a top-notch UI/UX designer. What’s worth noting is that if you’re pitted against them, there’s a massive chance that they’ll outgrow you professionally. UI/UX is your backup plan, but it’s their passion. They’re constantly bettering themselves, going for conferences, learning the latest tricks, staying up to date with all the news that makes them better in their field, whereas you’re doing it for the paycheck. You see the big flaw there? If you’re not passionate about it, you’re not going to put in the effort it takes to be the best, and to subsequently earn the most.

There’s a video out there (quite oddly titled “Don’t follow your passion”) by Mark Cuban where Cuban’s words somewhere after the 20-second mark go something like this, “The things I ended up being really good at, were the things I found myself putting effort into”. Cuban, although outwardly ‘against following one’s passion’ ends up making the point everyone is trying to make. The things you find yourself putting the time and effort into, are the things you become really good at. And nobody quits something they’re good at, because people inherently always crave, and enjoy being the best at something. That’s ultimately passion, right?

The moral really is that you can’t choose to make big money off of doing something you don’t enjoy. That isn’t a sustainable business model, because ultimately, it isn’t something you want to do! You can, however, choose to do something you love. Something you look forward to doing everyday. Something you’ll eventually get better and better at because you’re putting in the effort… because you want to!

Video Credits: Chris Do | The Futur