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February 3, 2009

The fallacy behind 'do what you love, the money will follow'


It's exactly the same error in reasoning that leads to people anointing stock pickers who made the right call as great investors, when in fact anytime you lump enough people together, someone will get lucky and be right.

Lots of people — I'd dare to say millions — do what they love, but little in the way of money follows.

Instead, for the great majority there's frustration, anger and penury, with the love ultimately abandoned in favor of something that guarantees a regular paycheck.

A few people do get lucky.

Most of those just smile at their lucky fortune, like individuals who find they've got a winning lottery ticket.

But every single one of those who get lucky were indistinguishable at the get-go from far more exactly like them who crashed and burned.

For every successful artist, actor or musician there are a thousand equally talented but unlucky ones.

Save your money.

February 3, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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'I mean writing poetry; I don't mean going around as a performing sideshow or teaching poetry. I mean sitting alone with a piece of paper.'

well some people do make a living writing poetry, Wendy Cope, Kay Ryan for instance.
BUT they have also done a lot of other things around crafting, promoting and expanding their work! both have taught too.
As for teaching yoga & meditation, there are huge untapped markets for this! One guy who I know does really well teaching Tai Chi in nursing homes, offices and support groups.

It's unreasonable to say 'someone should pay me for only doing the thing I love best in the way I love best' and that certainly isn't the message of the book, far from it- it's how to make a success of life by doing primarily what you love as a business...& even the happiest businessperson is going to have to advertise/ keep records/ file taxes/ sell stuff etc. and in lean times may have to hustle to do something else or be creative to keep money coming in.

It's the confidence coming from that knowledge that you can turn up money when you need to that gives the confidence to follow the dream, because it's not based upon fantasy but the reality of producing enough money to live on!

Posted by: Tracy Pace | Mar 23, 2009 3:14:22 PM

Some people have a lot of luck. One kind of good luck is loving to do something people will pay for. I studied this darn book a long time ago, and I promise you, there is no way to make a living writing poetry. I mean writing poetry; I don't mean going around as a performing sideshow or teaching poetry. I mean sitting alone with a piece of paper. Ditto for other vocations of the heart, such as teaching yoga or meditation. The great majority of people who do these things don't make any real money at it.

Now, if what the book meant was, forget the money, you probably won't starve . . . that's okay, very Buddhist, your choice. Otherwise, to get money you have to work, and work is work.

Posted by: majeanne | Feb 11, 2009 8:55:33 PM

I disagree- the book doesn't promise wealth, it shows how people turn their passion and ability into a reliable income. It changed my life and working practices and I can build a successful business out of anything these days using the same enthusiasm.

I feel more financially secure than when I earned much more from the 'regular paycheck' because it was at the cost of a miserable life and endless deep-seated panic that income or investments may simply disappear in a bad economy.

Downsize to be successful as a self-employed craftsperson, we live in such a culture of excess. I see many businesses fail quickly because too much money got thrown at them in the beginning, which was impossible to recoup quickly, or surpressed more creative solution-making, or because people charge more for their services than others can afford or what the service is worth to others.

I often barter skills or materials, have the confidence to ask simply what people's budgets and requirements are, and have found a simpler lifestyle leads to better more honest relationships all round as well as a level of self-reliance and choice I simply would not have otherwise.

This is a really good book, one of my favourites.

Posted by: Tracy Pace | Feb 11, 2009 5:59:46 PM

I must agree with you. I managed an Art Gallery for 7 years. I absolutely loved going to work every day - but my family was suffering financially. I eventually had to move on to a better paying job.

It can be frustrating to have people complement your talents and say you ought to do something full time using those talents when they themselves cannot afford to keep you in business if you really went in that direction.

Posted by: Aunt Evolity | Feb 4, 2009 11:11:04 PM


Posted by: Ray | Feb 4, 2009 7:04:30 AM

They are new Bev. And I've been clicking Joe.

Posted by: Miles | Feb 3, 2009 7:54:04 PM

At the risk of appearing even stupider than usual -- have those Google ads always been here in the comments department? And I just wasn't paying attention for a couple years?


Posted by: Flautist | Feb 3, 2009 7:48:12 PM

OTOH, being quite wealthy may enable you to do what you love.

Well, as long as it does not involve politics. Or other law breaking.

Posted by: teqjack | Feb 3, 2009 7:28:37 PM

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