Don’t quit your 9–5 the second you find passion in doing something else

Entrepreneurship needs more than passion
Taking charge of your life and crafting your future in your terms — running a company, transitioning from the 9–5 to freelancing — is not easy. It requires resilience and grace under pressure, i.e. more than just having passion alone.

Having passion is great. You’ve read enough articles on Medium, The Huffington PostEntrepreneur Magazine, and inc. magazine about the importance of having passion in your work — enough articles and talks at startup events to fire you up, gently but surely pushing you to believe that all you need is enough passion, and everything will fall into place.

As an entrepreneur running a full-service digital agency that spun out of my freelance work since my teenage years and taking steps into the online business coaching world, I agree —some degree of passion in what you do is incredibly important. Not only do you wake up feeling like you have a purpose in life, but you also protect yourself much more against crippling depression and anxieties of one of the following:

  • wasting your time in a 9–5 you don’t enjoy or hate
  • feeling stifled in your career path
  • feeling stifled in life with no direction and your 30th birthday coming up
  • feelings of regret
  • fear of feeling regret
  • feeling stuck in the rut

However, this deep-rooted belief that “all you need is passion” has gotten people to take huge leaps of faith into entrepreneurship — such as quitting your full-time job the second you find passion in doing something else in life. Quite often, they find themselves eventually struggling to survive in the unexpected currents, twists and turns that life as an entrepreneur unapologetically throws at you.

In other words, having passion is not enough to sustain that entrepreneurial journey.

Having a passion for your product or service is not the only thing need in your life as a freelancer, as a business owner, or a startup founder/CEO — and that’s what some people don’t see until they’ve tried and failed (hopefully, after the first cycle). Having passion or skill in sales doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy the menial tasks involved in building your sales startup product or the company: you’ll need to be fundraising, managing your team and investors, managing your finances, managing your business’s finances, and administrative tasks that suddenly feels incredibly overwhelming especially for first-time entrepreneurs.

Your learning curve will be incredibly steep, and having passion is just one of those factors that will help guide you to success. It will contribute to a fulfilling life, but your life involves more than passion in your work. Your life, simplified, revolves around these four areas: work, health, play, and wellness of mind and soul. You need to have varying degrees of fulfillment in these areas in other to live a fulfilled life. The level of fulfillment differs from one person to another — you’ll need to find out what contributes to fulfillment in each of those areas on your own.

So, following your passion is a great thing to keep in mind to do. It’s just like how keeping healthy, taking time off to enjoy what life and nature has to offer, eating clean food and avoiding sugar are all great advice — but it’s not the only thing you should count on to become the next Zuckerberg.

Think of it this way: you can’t focus solely on eating healthy to live a fulfilled, successful life that meets your standards and expectations of success. The promise of achieving such a life by simply following your passion is only going to let you down. The surge of articles about passion all over the internet are there to remind you that passion is important — but don’t forget that there are other important aspects to leading a successful, fulfilled entrepreneurial life.

Take your time to figure out what work means to you, what play, health, and wellness mean to you.

Find a balance. Your balance.

Take time to find out what your passion is.

Take time and put in the effort to figure out where you find yourself excelling at what you do, i.e., finding “euphoric flow” moments — those moments where you’re comfortably excelling at what you do best without feeling anxious, instead of jumping into the first business idea and quitting your 9–5.

Don’t give up or quit your 9–5, yet.


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Entrepreneur, CEO

Cherie Tan (@cherietanjy) helps entrepreneurs build better online businesses. She is also an advocate for more accessible, quality education around the world. In 2017, Cherie spoke about Education Technology (#edtech) implementation at Frontiers and Innovations in Technology, Manila. 

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