Singaporeans are burning out at work. According to a recent work-life balance study, Singapore was one of the most overworked populations across different cities in the world. Burning out at work has also led to 92% of Singaporeans feeling stressed out in a separate study. In short, many of us are going out of our minds here. Imagine this: it’s Friday night and you are spilling your woes out to a friend. It’s been a stressful few months at work. Projects are piling up, an appraisal is right around the corner, the average work night ends at 10pm and your newborn child cannot stop screaming during Zoom calls. Instead of just lending a listening ear, your friend begins to offer unsolicited career advice, like “Why not find your passion and do what you love?”
The common adage seems to make sense. If you hate what you do, then doing what you love should, by right, make your life more meaningful, right? As it turns out, ‘following your passion’ and ‘doing what you love’ is not always the best career advice…
Reason #1: What is your ‘passion’, really?
Let’s say you take your friend’s advice. You set up a meeting with your manager, hand in your resignation letter and spend the next month thinking about what your passion is and how to turn it into a thriving career — but what is your ‘passion’, really?
Most people enjoy doing a number of things outside of work. Aside from watching shows on Netflix, maybe you love to bake for your friends and family every other week — is that your passion? How about the fact that you love cuddling your cats? Is that a passion also? The truth is that, for most people, passion is a fluid thing that’s hard to pin down. Also, it changes with time.
What’s more, this attitude also assumes that passion must be chased and not derived from the work that you are already doing. If you are feeling burnt out at work, consider this: is it because of the work itself, or is it because you are in a toxic workplace?
Reason #2: Not everybody can afford to do it. Get some solid career advice first.
Besides, ‘follow your passion’ is also a privilege not everyone can afford.
If you do not have financial obligations, it is perfectly fine to take ‘a leap of faith’ and chase that passion you’ve always wanted. Set up a plan, give yourself a limited timeframe, then go for it!
The trouble is that not everybody has that luxury. From a family to support to debts to pay off, there are dozens of reasons why ‘following your passion’ is, at least for some, simply out of the question. Animals could be your passion, and your dream has always been to set up an animal shelter — but how many for-profit animal shelters can you name? Passion enriches the soul, but it doesn’t always put food on the table. The key, then, is striking a balance between the two.
Reason #3: It might not be as romantic as it seems
So you’ve come to a decision: baking is your passion, and you want to start a home-based business.
However, if you jump into the deep end immediately, that means you’re going to be spending a lot of time on and off the clock thinking about it, doing it and engaging with it. The lack of work-life balance aside, baking on weekends is very different from baking during every single waking hour. Besides, how much flour do you need? How many eggs should you buy? Is the oven big enough? How much do you charge to cover the cost? How do you get the word out about your cake? What if you realise halfway that your cake isn’t all that good, and you really just enjoy the process of baking?
The fact is that sometimes our passions don’t line up with our skill sets. What we love to do and what we’ve been trained or educated to do may not be one at the same. So when someone advises you to chase your passion as a career, consider the real risk that we may not be good enough to turn pro. But, there are always resources out there to help you upskill!
Don’t let us stop you
Let us be clear: ‘Follow your passion’ is not inherently a bad thing. If you know for sure what your passion is, if you can afford to make the career switch and if you are fully prepared for the hardships, by all means, do it! The trouble, at the end of the day, is about not having a plan. Speak to more people to get some career advice – friends, family, trusted co-workers, or even a career coach. If you are looking for career advice in the new year, know that there are resources out there that provides helpful career coaching services to help workers of Singapore develop their strengths and capabilities!