Everyone says that if you follow your passion, you’ll find your calling. I’m guilty of saying that or something like it myself. The problem is, it’s rarely true. What you’re truly passionate about is not likely to turn out to be something you’ll be successful at over the long haul, career-wise.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should slave away at a job that makes you miserable to make a buck. What I am saying is that, in a practical sense, you’re probably better off doing work you love that you can excel at and keep your more passionate endeavors as personal interests or hobbies.

Take me for example. I have a passion for music, movies, football and gardening, but not an ounce of talent for any of those things. I’m more or less tone deaf. I doubt if I could even play myself in a movie. I’m not exactly built for contact sports. And while I love plants, you know the old saying “You always hurt the ones you love?” Yup, that’s me.

Maybe the only thing I have a real passion for that I could possibly have chosen as a career is cooking and bartending. And while I love to make food and drinks and am pretty good at both, for whatever reason, I’ve never had much interest in doing either for a living.

Meanwhile, I’ve had a blast as a management consultant and one hell-of-a career in the tech industry, but I wouldn’t say I had a passion for either. Granted, it’s been fun and never just a job. I’ve always loved my work or I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. But passion, not really. As for my new venture, too soon to say.

Which brings us to writing. That could very well turn out to be both my calling and something I’m passionate about, but I started doing it so late in life, the jury’s still out. That said, I wouldn’t have had much life experience to write about if I’d started earlier, so I guess that’s as it should be, as well.

So folks, for all the times I said you should find your passion and pursue that as a career, you might want to take that advice with a big old lump of salt. The funny thing is, you can do what you love for a living – even have fun and be successful at it – and keep your passions for your personal life. As compromises go, not too shabby.

Image credit Ken Brynan via Flickr