Why “Following Your Passion” Is Misleading

“All you have to do is follow your passion and you’ll find happiness.”


You’ve probably heard me say this and others who are happy in their lives doing what they’re doing. If you’re annoyed every time you hear this shit, it’s for good reason.




I’m not here to discourage you, but rather give you a much more informative approach as to HOW to follow your passion based on my experience.


Like most millennials, I grew up not knowing for sure what I wanted to be. Sure I had dreams. We all did. One might argue that growing up killed our dreams of becoming something cool like a secret agent or play sports professionally or be a unicorn. Words like “unsafe”, “unsustainable”, and “un-realistic” killed those dreams. I mean if you look at those words they start with “un” as if people try to “un”encourage you to think that way. Well if your passion is to be a unicorn, you be the best damn unicorn you can be damn it.



Sometimes we have to do what we need in order to survive.My first ever job was freshman year at ISU as the burger guy at Manchester/Hewitt Halls in Summer of ‘06. Everyone wants a life they can be comfortable with. The economy wasn’t all that great. Having money is better than no money. No argument there. But man It was a hot summer. I took 5-10 minute breaks when it wasn’t as busy standing in the freezer. One distinct memory I had was when there was a national cheerleading camp and all these little girls came in.

One girl in particular couldn’t of been more than 8 years old asking for a “cheeseburger with no cheese please….I have to lose weight.” It was funny because she asked for a cheeseburger without cheese instead of a…umm…hamburger, but I was also a little discussed with that whole situation because someone told her she needed to lose weight. This might of subconsciously sparked the idea that I should be a personal trainer and empower women to become stronger and not hate their bodies…but who knows.


It wasn’t until sophomore year in college that I knew I didn’t know what I wanted to do let alone become as I’m almost half way through college. It was pointed out to me that the rec center was hiring for personal trainers. I never in my life wanted to be a personal trainer, but it made sense at the time. I LOVED working out. I was an athlete and I wanted to get bigger and stronger. I figured being a personal trainer allowed me to workout all the time and get paid for it. Basically, following the path of “Do what you Love. Profit.” Right?! Well, turns out this is the first step in how to “Following Your Passion”:




I didn’t start as a trainer. When I applied for the position, the seniors hadn’t graduated yet and so spots weren’t open at the time. So, I decided to work at the rec center as a rec assistant. That meant keeping the gym looking nice, washing towels, making smoothies, checking in people at the front desk. Then, I quickly got promoted to CSR (customer service rep) making sales and filing papers.




Not long after that I got one of the open personal trainer spots. Almost at the same time I also became a fitness instructor. Unbeknownst to me I also became ISU’s first fitness instructor (which I’m very proud of). The more time I spent working all these different positions, the more I fell in love with what I was doing. After I graduated, I stayed in the fitness biz and moved onto training/teaching at a commercial gym. About a year or so after being there I thought I might apply to be the head trainer there. As it turns out, my experience with running a fitness facility, knowing point of sale and customer service got me the job in late ‘09. 2 years in and I’m already the head trainer of a gym with a staff of 8 and a member base of over 20,000. So all this experience laid the groundwork for my success early on. I learn best in the field and realizing that was key (Note: Understand which learning process works best for you). Which leads to the next point when getting advice from folks about how to make your passion work for you….

No.2 Ask About The Process….not HOW

Things were pretty easy. I thought I had this  on lock…until 3 years later I lost my job. I had found my passion and I couldn’t let it go, so I applied to other gyms in the area, but it was taking too long. I only had 2 weeks or so until my last check came through until I was going to be broke AND jobless. It was the lowest point I had ever been in my entire life. Which leads me to point number 3 of why just “Follow Your Passion” is terrible advice:

No.3- Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was.


I’ll never forget how that felt. It was the drive I needed to push forward and grind harder (and smarter) everyday. Starting your own training business without any business knowledge as far as pricing or business structure goes is extremely difficult. Almost scary. Too scary for most. It’s no wonder the statistics show that at least 80% of all trainers fail within 3-5 years for a number of reasons: certifications were too expensive, wasn’t good enough to make ends meet, getting up too early. Though, if it is truly your passion, you’ll find a way to make it work.


It was obvious the only way to survive in this industry is to follow two golden rules: 1) Become really fucking good at what you do, and 2) Make sure everyone knows about it.



No.4- It Takes Hard Work



When you have your own business or “following your passion” you have to put in the work. Having passion is the minimal requirement. You have to sacrifice the very things that will make you better in the long run: The amount of sleep you have will decrease, but not at the expense of quality. The amount of time spent with friends and family will take a hit, but always make time for them because you’ll need the support to keep you going. Remember, you’re doing this because you love it, but don’t let it consume you.



No.5- Putting The Energies in The Right Places


The downfall of following your passion is that it takes so much of your energy. All of the coaches here at CFBN/AF work full time as coaches. We’re here as early as 5am to as late as 8:30pm 6 days a week putting energy into coaching, programming, making your meals and of course you have to get your own workout in. Then you have your personal life with a family, dogs, and of course ME TIME!! Navigating all that has it’s own energy expenditure that most aren’t really ready for. So you’ll have to set boundaries and cut yourself off so you can have time, energy and a life to look forward to at the end of the day.

But if there’s one thing that most passionate people don’t talk about, it’s having the ability to reflect.


No.6- Reflect


I’m only 9 years into the fitness biz. I’m a deep thinker. Reflecting is something I do often, but for some it’s a skill and needs to be practiced. Journaling, having conversation, meditating or blogging, are great ways to reflect on what you’ve learned. If you can do that everyday, that’d be even better. And If you’re getting better on a daily basis, you’re doing something right.


Some say “keep going and never look back”, but that’s because they’re looking back at the wrong things. The past is a trail that leaves clues to where you’ve been and could help remind you of the path you’re on. So make sure what you reflect on is with good intentions.


So, following your passion as you now understand it to be from my point of view, isn’t as cut and dry others may lead you to believe. To sum it up:


1) Find a passion first and foremost and find a way to make a living from it. For me, I eventually found my passion but it took a while for it to work for me. There is a strategy to make it work. Make a plan. See what that looks like. You’ll get knocked off course somewhere down the line, but the goal is to always keep the goal as the goal.

2) Ask about the process, not how. The key to learning is about asking the right questions. Learning the fundamentals about business in my case; maintain quality of equipment, learning about writing programs, customer service, technical experience, etc. are just some of the processes needed to make my business work for me in the long run.


3) Most people don’t know or remember how hard it was. Understand that following your passion is a road less traveled. It’s about making something your own and not being given by someone else. It will be hard at times, but those hard times are what’s going to make you better. Mistakes are obstacles that can be made into opportunities. It’s a big risk and there are going to be setbacks. If you haven’t experienced setbacks early on, image how difficult it’s going to be later. Take them as they come and move forward.


4) It takes hard work. What I mean by hard work is putting in the time. A lot of time. To get really good at what you do also means sacrificing things like energy, money, sleep, even relationships to make your passion work for you.


5) Putting the energies in the right places. Being passionate about something is a phenomenal feeling and can subsequently suck the life out of you if you’re not careful. You’ll have to be wise about where your energy goes and how much. Like currency, these things need to be traded wisely to get the “most bang for your buck”. Having priorities and setting boundaries is going to help you from running your head into the wall.

6) Reflect. I can’t stress enough how important reflecting is. Evaluating what you’ve learned along the way about the process is what’s going to keep you from making the same mistakes over and over. Sometimes reflecting can even help point out to you that perhaps what you’re doing may not end up being what you’re passionate about. Writing, talking, and meditating about it every day is a great way to keep you in check and moving forward.

Now you’re ready to “FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.” Work hard. Enjoy the journey. Be great.