Don't Follow Your Passion. Follow Your Time.

It's time to dispel the myth that your passion is enough

  • Justin Zoradi
Don't Follow Your Passion. Follow Your Time.

I’m just like you. Constantly searching, forever scanning, continually hunting for purpose in life.

But here’s a tip: Stop believing the secret is to just “follow your passions.” People will tell you that and you’ll believe them. But it’s not entirely true.

Because if you really want to know where your destiny lies, look at where you apply your time*

We’ve made a mistake as a society in believing that passions are wonderful gifts only special people stumble upon. Like there is a “Vocation Santa” in the North Pole who randomly doles out law school to one child and a lump of coal to another.

I was reminded in a blog by Mark Cuban that your passions will undoubtedly change, grow, evolve, and mature. You’ll most likely have more than one. But the thing that doesn’t change is the amount of hours in the day.

Because quite honestly, your passion isn't enough. Passion is a spark, a shot of caffeine, a potent but temporary dose of inspiration injected into your bloodstream.

The secret weapon is a combination of your passion and an organized and detailed application of your time. (<-- Click to tweet)

And the best part is, the more strategically you apply your time, the more passionate you’ll become.

You’ve probably heard of Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers where he talks about the 10,000 hour rule. Essentially, that's how long it takes to become a professional at something.

He gives a great example about The Beatles playing all day long at these crappy bars for no money. They didn't start out talented, but after playing for 10,000 hours they became really, really good. The Beatles were passionate about music no doubt, but what made them superstars was their relentless and organized application of their time.

Now I don’t want to preach a message that if you just work hard at something you will succeed. That’s not always true. But I want to bust the myth that your passion is the only thing you need to carry you through. Because that’s not true either.

There will definitely be times when you’re not passionate about your passion. But those are the times when you put your head down and put the work in.

Think of the thing you’re most passionate about. Then decide how many hours of the day you can devote to it. If you still can’t find enough time, you need to find a different thing to care about. Because the guilt of not doing the thing you love most, may very well be the worst guilt of all.

- JZ

Photo Credit: marcp_dmoz, Creative Commons
*This blog has been inspired and borrowed in some parts from Mark Cuban. Yes, that Mark Cuban

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Comments (16)

  • Marc Alan Schelske

    Marc Alan Schelske

    27 November 2012 at 17:44 |
    Justin, great point. Passion matters a whole lot. But it's never enough. The way you spend your time every day adds up to something. It might not add up to making a difference in the world in the area you're passionate about, but that won't be an accident. It will be because your time added up to something different than your passion.

    (This is where I stop and think about how much time I've spent watching TV in my life, and how I could be an expert at nearly anything if I'd spent those exact same hours in a different way...)

    Thanks for the reminder. Intentional living requires an intentional application of our time.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      27 November 2012 at 19:10 |
      Thanks Marc. Yes. Intentional living requires intentional time.
    • Erick


      03 December 2012 at 20:03 |
      My passion is something that I think I'll be working on until my time ends. In my experience, followimg my passion makes me forget that time exist. When you are passionate you are focused and your mind is just inundated with limitless ideas. So why even bother thinking about time?
  • Larry J Rutledge

    Larry J Rutledge

    27 November 2012 at 18:06 |
    "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21 (NLT)

    It's the concept of investment. Whatever you truly believe in, you will invest your time, money, effort, yourself. If you want to know what matters most to you, look at where your time goes and where your money goes. If you want to be better at something, you must invest yourself into that thing.

    I remember when I was about 12 years old I decided I wanted to play the guitar, piano and violin. We had a guitar and a piano in the house, so those seemed to be the place to start. I convinced my dad to buy me a book on playing the guitar and I sat in my room ... for about an hour. I plucked out a couple chords and was happy, except ... I couldn't play the songs I wanted, and my fingers REALLY hurt pushing those strings down.

    I next sat at the piano, and after a few minutes of basic information from my dad I started figuring out how to play that confounded thing. I sat for hours and hours and days and weeks and months in front of that counfounded thing ... and you know what, I started to get competent at it. I invested my time and developed a result.

    Now I've not played in many years and I had not reached a high level of competency, so I'm not a pianist today. But I saw a fruit from my investment.

    Do you know why people get so touchy when you start talking about money, especially about money leaving their hands and going into someone else's? Because we work hard to earn our money, the money we have is compensation for the investment of our self, of our time, into some company, some career. So if you ask me to give you money, you aren't just asking for some resource from my pocket, you are asking for a piece of me. A representation of the investment of myself, my time which I can never recover.

    So invest yourself, your time, your resources, your talents, your gifts, your very life into the thing(s) which you are most passionate about. The more of yourself you invest, the greater the return back to you.

    Want to see people's lives changed? Invest your time in them and in their need.

    Want to learn a new skill? Invest yourself, give up something less important and move that time to the thing you want to learn.

    Want to increase the quality of your family? Give yourself to them. Take time away from things that may interest you and give that time to your wife, your kids, your parents, your siblings.

    Let your life become a story worth telling ... put yourself into that story and pursue those things that matter most to you.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      27 November 2012 at 19:11 |
      Sounds like your comment could become a blog in itself Larry! Put it on your site.

      Thanks as usual for great engagement man.
      • Larry J Rutledge

        Larry J Rutledge

        27 November 2012 at 19:13 |
        Yea, I guess I did stretch that comment out a bit, huh? :)

        But yea, I think you are on the money ... I will definitely expand this and put on my site. Thanks!

        And thanks again for creating this environment where we can engage and grow!
  • Drew Tewell

    Drew Tewell

    28 November 2012 at 03:05 |
    Hello Justin,

    I agree, passion is only one part of the equation. Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, talks about what he calls the "Hedgehog Concept". He says that, in addition to passion, find something that you can be the best in the world at, and that you can make money on. Another book I was reading that was really good is So Good They Can't Ignore You, by Cal Newport. He also argues that "follow your passion" is not usually the best advice. Thanks for the post and hopefully we'll connect again soon!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      28 November 2012 at 08:31 |
      Thanks for reading Drew! If I'm in league with those dudes I think I'm on the right track.
  • Tim Lim

    Tim Lim

    28 November 2012 at 07:01 |
    Great to see this post finally be published! Will aim to put my utmost into everything I do and see what I'm desperate to put my time into.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      28 November 2012 at 08:31 |
      Rock and roll Tim. Go for it man. Let me know how it goes.
  • Dave Arnold

    Dave Arnold

    28 November 2012 at 21:07 |
    Hey Justin - Great post. Love the quote, "Because if you really want to know where your destiny lies, look at where you apply your time." So true!
    What we care about - what we're passionate about - is what will put our time and effort into. Awesome post!
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      28 November 2012 at 21:25 |
      Thanks Dave! Appreciate you reading man
  • Diane Hurst

    Diane Hurst

    29 November 2012 at 15:55 |
    This topic is something I've been thinking alot about lately . . . because I seem to have "too many" passions, which limits what I can do in any one, but at present am unwilling to give up any of them. When I'm doing something I love, like teaching kids, I think, "Wow, I love doing this-- I could do this all the time and be really happy." Then when I'm composing a song and/or playing music, I think the same thing. And when I'm studying and learning new information and/or creating a design for learning something it's the same thing again. Then there is artwork, foreign language, . . . OK-- there are NOT enough hours in a day!

    But I feel blessed and grateful to be able to work at home as a homeschool mom; because my schedule is very flexible, and some of my passions fit very well with what needs to happen in our homeschooling.

    For now, I'm trying to put energies into one thing to possibly make money (as was mentioned in your post)-- selling educational products. And, just so I can eventually get up to those 10,000 hours (maybe-- if I live that long), I'll keep practicing music to become more highly skilled. And the other interests can ebb and tide however it works out . . .

    I think it's important to listen to God, too, and to ask for his direction and guidance. I thinks He gives us passions for a reason, but you are right-- passion is a spark that needs to be fanned into flame to see results.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      29 November 2012 at 23:57 |
      Thanks Diane! Appreciate your comments. Keep working toward that 10,000 hr mark.
  • Brandon


    03 December 2012 at 03:37 |
    Great Post. I agree with you that following your passions is not the best advice(At First). I just finished Cal Newport's book "So Good They Can't Ignore You" 3 things stuck out to me that have changed my opinion on following my passions. 1.Deliberate Practice (10,000 hours) 2. Career Capital (investment into knowledge /skills) 3.Getting to the edge of your field of study (truly knowing when you are doing something special or unique). Following ones Passion is not necessarily a bad thing. Deciding to follow your passion to early without investing into those 3 area may change how the outcome turns out. Spend time on what's important, instead of what's immediate. - Working right trumps finding the right work. -At the end of the day be so good that they can't ignore you.
    • Justin Zoradi

      Justin Zoradi

      03 December 2012 at 23:33 |

      Thanks for your great comment. I actually just read those 3 things from Cal Newport's book to a friend on the phone today. Read it straight from your comment.

      So thank you! Great stuff. Appreciate you reading.


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