Passion vs. pickles

Written by Paul Jarvis

I’m pretty sure I found my passion too.

It was hiding at the back of my fridge the whole time, behind a jar of pickles. The reason I hadn’t been able to follow my passion sooner is because a jar of pickles was keeping it from me. You see, I’m not very passionate about eating pickles, so I left them there, covering up my true passion from view.

Once I found it though (and threw out the jar of pickles, I’m pretty sure they expired), I was all set. No more boring work, stress, unhappiness… it was just pure contentment, 100% of the time.

If only it worked that way. If only we could magically find our passion one day, follow it and achieve pure, unending bliss.

Trying to find your passion is a recipe for disaster – or at best, a recipe for horrible disappointment (note: the recipe includes pickles). What if you can’t find it? What if you find it and then a few days later you realize that wasn’t it at all?

I don’t think we have one true calling. Or two. Or a pickle jar full of them (according to Google, the average pickle jar has 15 pickles).

I also don’t think there’s a single passionate calling that we can find one day, as if it was hidden until that exact moment, that will turn our lives into the best ever.

Instead, I think what’s better is that we just find a place where we can make a difference. And, making a difference is fairly easy. First, you just have to leave things better than you found them. Second, you have to leave yourself better than when you started.

Making a difference can be anything from collecting garbage, to serving coffee, to coaching billionaires, to raising children. That’s it. No big “quit your job and move to Bali to make six figures of passive income a day while surfing”. Just you, doing something that holds your attention and serves others.

Passion is a fickle flame that burns brightly in one moment and is snuffed out the next.

We tend to see only the best in others and the worst in ourselves. So we see others doing something we think we want to do as well and assume their lives are peaches and rainbows (fact: those two things are the opposite of pickles). When in reality, their lives are probably full of the same shit as our own… sometimes stress, occasionally unhappiness, mostly hard work and unknown outcomes.

I’m passionate about what I do, but not always. Sometimes I want to punch my life in the gut. Sometimes I dance around my kitchen because I’m so stoked that my life is the way it is (my wife always wants to film me doing this because she says it’ll make me famous on the internet). Sometimes I get so stressed out I have to walk away and keep walking until I get a little perspective (walking is surprisingly good for that).

I’ve never simply done something because I want to “do what I love”. I just like being helpful. And I really like making money being helpful. Sometimes the work is difficult, boring, monotonous or stressful. But when I think I can make an impact, based on my skills and experience, that’s more than likely what I’m going to do.

As Seth Godin says, it’s not so much the where, it’s the how.

Truly passionate people find a place where they can make an impact, regardless of their life circumstances. Regardless of finding one true calling. Regardless of waiting until the stars align in their favour. Regardless of whether or not they finally look behind that jar of pickles in their fridge.

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Written by Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis runs Creative Class. He makes things for people who make things.

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