July 18th, 2008

The Power of Doing What You Love (versus Doing What You Think Will Make You Money)

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Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life.

-Wayne Dyer

Doing what you love

The videogame site I started at age 13: PlayStation Fan
The videogame site I started at age 13: PlayStation Fan
When I was younger, I loved videogames. I read all the latest videogame magazines, spent all my money on new videogames and game systems, and was obsessed about new games that were coming out soon. Yep- I was a videogame nerd… So when I learned how easy (and free) it was for me to start my own videogame magazine online, and share my love of videogames with others, I jumped at the opportunity.

I started the videogame website, and my passion for videogames soon paid off- I was receiving free games in the mail from game companies to review, had a staff of 10 content writers from around the world working for free (they received free games to review), and was making good money from advertising (as much as $2k/month). This was every videogame nerd’s dream… And I was only 13 at the time– this truly shows how powerful doing what you love can be.

Doing what you think will make you money

The dating website I started in college: Date KU
The dating website I started in college: Date KU
On the flip side, in college, I came up with an idea for making money. I launched a dating website specific to my college, hoping to be successful and later expand to other schools. I didn’t love this idea- I was doing it to make money. This lack of love was noticeable in the final product- there was nothing really special about the dating site other than its catering to students from my college. The site ended up being a financial failure, and was a good lesson for me- when you aren’t doing what you love, you are setting yourself up for mediocre results.

If I had loved the dating site idea, versus using it only as a means to make money, would I have been successful? I don’t know. But I do know that I would’ve been more passionate and not so focused on making money. This would’ve increased my chances of success tenfold.

The Power of Doing What You Love

Whether or not our subjective experience of work is of freedom depends on whether we choose to be slaves to material wealth or to emotional prosperity. Slaves to others’ expectations or to our passions.

Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier

When you’re doing what you love, you are in a more passionate state of mind, and always doing your best because you enjoy what you do. You’ll often find yourself in “the flow”, a state where you lose track of time as your focus is solely on your passion. You’ll be better able to handle obstacles that come into your path because you enjoy the day-to-day activity of doing what you love (versus doing something solely as a means to make money).

A study done by the University of Rochester’s Human Motivation Research Group found that people whose motivation was “self-authored” (doing what they love) exhibited more interest, excitement, and confidence, as well as greater persistence, creativity and performance than a control group who were motivated by external demands and rewards (doing what they thought would make them money).

Your Challenge

I now challenge you- in some way, start spending more of your time doing what you love. I’m not saying you should do anything drastic like quitting your job… I am simply asking you to reflect upon what you are most passionate about, and begin spending more time on that area of your life. You may begin to notice (as I did with my videogame site) that abundance will begin to expand in your life when you are doing what you love:

If you follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the life that you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors for you. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. Life is too short to do only what we have to do; it is barely long enough to do what we want to do.

-William H. Murray

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4 Responses to “The Power of Doing What You Love (versus Doing What You Think Will Make You Money)”


July 18th, 2008 - 7:29 pm

Hasty Conclusion—your argument is reasonable, but does it always lead to the conclusion that you are alluding to? A lot of times, doing what you love is difficult—with very little, or no, perceivable or tangible rewards.

“Life is too short to do only what we have to do; it is barely long enough to do what we want to do.” Not everybody can do what he or she wants. There are glass ceilings and other barriers—that are perceivable but purposely ignored—that restrict us. We live our lives between two fences that are set apart at a perfect distance, i.e. we have room to move and some of us feel free, but there are limitations.

Derek Ralston

July 19th, 2008 - 12:27 am

Hi Mike- Thanks for the feedback! I agree that doing what you love does not always lead to abundance. But I do believe that when you focus on what you love/are most passionate about, it will expand itself in your life. Doing what you love takes courage, and that is the part that can be difficult.

Regarding your second comment about how we all have invisible barriers, that is one way to view things, but I think that is a pessimistic mindset that can be self-fulfilling and harmful… If a person believes they have certain barriers, they will often act on those barriers, making them self-imposed. I think that people need to have a realistic optimistic mindset instead- they should see themselves realistically, but also know that they can continue to improve themselves and grow.

The glass ceiling is a valid point, but it is really another discussion- there have been many cases where glass ceilings have been broken (ex. Hillary and Barack in this year’s presidential election).

Mikael Wikman

November 22nd, 2008 - 10:55 am

My first thought is: What if what you love is watching movies, playing on the computer, etc. Then if that’s all you do, you’re upp for a disaster. I belive we must place ourselves in demanding situations in order to grow. Preferrably that would be situations we also love, which is not the case with my example above.

Secondly, a friend of mine use to say he has no interests, there’s nothing he likes to do. So, he spends his time by the TV and such. What do you think one should do about that?

Derek Ralston

December 20th, 2010 - 12:52 pm

Hi Mikael- I agree that you need to balance focusing on what you love with something that will allow you to grow. For the person that loves watching movies, they could become a movie reviewer/blogger or director. An example of a movie lover turned director would be Quentin Tarantino.

For the person that loves playing on the computer, they could become a videogame reviewer, or compete in professional gaming events. If you love something enough, there is usually a way to turn it into a productive activity.

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