I put together a piece a while back that offers my best advice on how to find your passion in life.
It comes down to a simple question I love to ask people:
What would you do with unlimited money?
If you can eliminate money from the equation, you’re able to really drill down into what you enjoy doing in life.
Of course, it’s hard to divorce money from one’s thoughts. We all need shelter and food. And that costs money.
But that’s why FIRE is so invaluable.
Once you have the basics in life covered, you’re then freed up to tee off on the things you enjoy.
My question could be reworded as such:
What would you do for free?
This question is one you’ve probably come across before. It’s another way of mentally tricking you into taking money out of the calculation. If you’re not willing to do something for free, you probably shouldn’t consider doing it for money. If money is what’s driving you to do something, you’ll tire of it very quickly. The motivation must be internal, rather than external.
All well and good. And I think both questions have validity when it comes down to discovering what you truly enjoy doing.
However, Ken Langone, one of the founders of Home Depot, took this idea to the next level.
And it totally blew me away.
He doesn’t think it’s simply a matter of being willing to do something for free.
He enjoys his work so much, he’d pay to do it:
If I had to pay to go to work every day, I would have. That’s how much I love my work. I’m having the time of my life.
This is such an interesting way to phrase this concept.
And I think there’s a lot of value in asking yourself an even better question than those I’ve seen posed before:
What would you pay to do?
If you’re willing to pay to do something, you’ve undoubtedly found your calling in life.
The best thing about it is, as Ken Langone’s massive fortune should tell you, these activities will probably not require you to pay. They’ll almost certainly pay you.
When you align your ability to add value with what you do every day, value comes back around to you. And this occurs in a very enjoyable way.
You can’t add a ton of value in this world without value coming back into your life. It’s like a universal equation that must be balanced.
If you’re truly talented at something, you love it with your entire being, and you spend a lot of time giving that thing your all, you’re almost certainly gonna make money. A lot of money, perhaps.
The best way to find out what that “something” is, might be to take Ken Langone’s test. Ask yourself whether or not you’d be willing to pay to do it.
My blogging is a good example of this.
When I first started blogging back in 2011, nobody was paying me. I didn’t start writing because I thought I was going to get paid.
It was the opposite.
I was fully willing to pay money to put my ideas out there, keep myself accountable, inspire others, and add some value to the world. I wanted to make my mark and do something worthwhile with my time and skills. There was love and passion there. It really wasn’t about money at all.
In fact, starting a blog usually does require one to pay money to do it. It’s a form of work that tests you on this matter. You’re either willing to pay to do it, or you’re not.
Hosting. Logo design. Maybe even marketing. Not to mention all of the time.
All of this requires upfront costs.
Blogging is not something that you’re making money with right away. Not usually, anyway. It’s even possible that you don’t make money at it for a long time.
But if you are talented, you love it, and you’re giving it everything you’ve got, the odds are strong that you’ll end up making money with it at some point. I must say, I’ve done very well financially with this over the years. But I think that’s because I didn’t start doing it for the money. Otherwise, I would have given up long ago.
That initial test – whether or not you’re willing to pay to do it – separates the wheat from the chaff. Not just in writing, of course. But everything in life.
And it very much separates work from a job. If you’re not willing to pay to do what you’re doing every day, you’ve got a job. Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that, but it sure ain’t a very nice feeling to know that you’re only there for the money.
I don’t think that’s a path to personal fulfillment, let alone significant wealth. And there’s nothing worse than waking up every morning feeling miserable because you’ve got to drag yourself down to a job you don’t like. Believe me, I’ve been there. I had a job I didn’t like. It’s not nice.
And this is why FIRE is so critical.
If you have a good degree of financial independence in your life, Ken Langone’s test is actually realistic for you. Once you’ve kind of eliminated a lot of basic financial concerns from your life, you can get on with doing what you’d pay to do. And that’s where the fun and real money starts.
By the way, I didn’t write those books because someone was paying me to write them. I actually spent a good deal of time and money putting them together. I paid to do that work. Because it was something that compelled me. There was a sense of real passion there that one can’t put a price on. And this passion continues to drive me to this day.
I want to point out that a passion doesn’t necessarily need to be monetized, even if it could be.
For instance, I hit the gym six days/week. I don’t do it for money. Nobody’s writing me a check. Indeed, I pay money to go into a gym and work my butt off.
I exercise because I love the process, and I love the results. It’s a calling in my life. It’s a full-on passion.
Now, I could make money at this. In fact, I’m a certified personal trainer. So I have the opportunity to flip the “money switch”. But I’m too busy with other passions to monetize this one, yet.
I encourage you to take Ken Langone’s test. Ask yourself whether or not you’d pay to do what you currently do. If the answer is yes, congratulations. If the answer is no, get busy changing that answer.
What do you think? Is Ken Langone correct? Would you pay to do what you do? Why or why not?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you’re ready to achieve financial freedom and put yourself in a position to do what you love, check out some fantastic resources I personally used on my way to becoming financially free at 33!