Much career advice falls along the lines of “follow your passion.” Like much general advice, the reality is always more complex and nuanced.
Many people have a love for animals, or a sport, or music…but not necessarily a talent that is required to make a living at it.
For example, I’ve worked with dozens of individuals who have a passion for animals but hate the idea of veterinary work because they don’t want to deal with sick animals or euthanize them. And, since being a vet or a veterinary technician are the only jobs that they believe to match with a passion for animals, they do not pursue a career in that field.
Same goes with athletes who aspire to a professional sports career; they might have a passion for the sport but simply don’t have the talent or opportunity to achieve a level where they can earn a living at it. Same goes for people who love music. So, most people give up on finding a job related to their passion.
Of course there are dozens of jobs involving animals that do not require vet skills, or sports jobs that do not require athletic skills, or music jobs that do not require singing or instrument playing skills. In fact, that is the case for most jobs in those fields. The core talent that we usually correlate with any high-profile job is not the only talents needed in a particular field.
For example, any professional sports franchise features players on the field, ice, or court but there are dozens of jobs behind the scenes making it possible for those athletes to perform, including individuals working on the manufacturing, distribution, and operations sides of the business, such as scouts, trainers, therapists, agents, physiologists, psychologists, rehab specialists, fitness consultants, facility managers, marketing and promotions specialists, sales professionals, accountants, lawyers, and many more. Sports is just another business selling a product.
There is more than one way to follow your passion
Many individuals with a love for sports may not have the talent to play professionally but they may have a talent and set of skills very well suited to one of the many other jobs involved in sports. If that talent can be identified then nurtured through education, training, or other experiences, they could find themselves working in the field they love.
Find out what your natural talents are, what you’re good at. Yes, learning other skills is necessary and takes time and work…but a career is a lot easier and enjoyable to develop when it is organized around your natural talents.
Apply your talents to what you love.