When I was a kid, I always tried new things just for the heck of it. I never thought about it too hard. I simply went with the flow and followed my interests wherever they took me.
- I spent one summer reading the encyclopedia all day because I was curious about all of the cool facts hidden in these massive tomes.
- I spent hundreds of hours creating the ultimate Legend Of Zelda strategy guide on a typewriter.
- I played Street Fighter II for 8 hours a day so I could beat all of my friends.
- I spent hours learning how to fold various animals out of square pieces of paper so I could entertain my friends(origami)
No one ever told me to do these things and I did them out of pure enjoyment.
In fact, I never once gave these activities a second thought and my parents didn’t force me to do them either.
And the best part?
If I didn’t feel like doing something anymore, I stopped. I never wondered whether it was a good use of my time. I never pontificated about how I could make any money from it.
I just did it.
So let me ask you this…
Do you remember back when you were a kid?
Do you remember when you pursued an activity just because you loved it and not because you needed to earn money?
Do you remember the last time you simply went with the flow and followed your interests?
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What Should I Do With My Life?
What is it about adulthood that ruins everything? Do we stop taking action because we are burdened with more responsibility? Do we forget how to enjoy what we do because we have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay?
The other day, I received an email from a reader asking me what he should do with his life.
Steve, I work a full time job that I hate. I desperately want to start my own business but I have no idea where to begin. Can you be my mentor and help me get started?
How do I find my passion?
Now I know I’m Chinese and all, but for some reason everyone thinks that I’m Confucius:) If selling handkerchiefs online qualifies me to be a philosopher then so be it.
Editor’s Note: If you are new to my blog, you can read about my entrepreneurship story here.
And if you are interested in starting your own online business, click here to take my FREE 6 day mini course on how to start an ecommerce store.
Choufucius says that you have already found your passion. You just haven’t realized it yet.
Becoming A Child Again
One of the biggest excuses that I hate hearing from ANYONE is that they “don’t have time” to start a business.
If you look at my current lifestyle, I run an online store, a blog, an ecommerce course, a podcast and I work full time with 2 kids. I’ve had guests on my podcast who home school 7 kids while running multiple 6 figure businesses!
First off, I seriously doubt that you have no time to spare but that is besides the point. You’re clearly spending your time somewhere and the key is to figure out what you’re doing with it.
And I’m willing to bet that you’ve found your passion already without realizing it.
Remember when you were a kid and you didn’t care? I’m willing to bet that the kid inside of you still exists but you’ve never tried to embrace it.
So question number one is how are you spending all of your leisure time? What do you enjoy doing that doesn’t feel like work? Have you ever tried to do anything with it?
Steve, I like playing video games all day.
Steve, I like reading romance novels whenever I have free time.
Steve, I like to eat out at restaurants.
How the hell can I turn this into a business?
Well Have You Tried?
First off, let’s get this out of the way first. Your problem isn’t about finding your passion.
The real problem lies with your priorities, your productivity and your confidence that you can actually make money doing what you enjoy.
So let’s address these one by one.
- Have you ever tried to do anything about your interests?
- Have you ever tried to document your knowledge on a blog?
- Have you ever tried to express your opinion through a podcast or video?
- Have you ever tried to make your mind accessible to the outside world?
If the answer is no to all of these questions, then sorry… You have never tried to pursue your passion. Period.
You can’t complain that your passion is worthless until you’ve given it an honest try.
If you like playing video games all day, I’m willing to bet that you’re “expert enough” to influence other fellow gamers.
If you like eating out, then there’s probably a group of people out there who want to know what you think about a particular restaurant or type of food.
If you aren’t sharing your knowledge, then start doing so and good things will happen. The medium doesn’t matter.
Just put yourself out there and document your thoughts.
Many Successful Entrepreneurs Are Created By Accident
As part of running my podcast, I’ve interviewed many entrepreneurs who were successful simply because they put themselves out there with zero intention of making money.
Because they were passionate about what they were doing, they didn’t consider it work and money was never the motivation.
For example, my Stanford buddy Eric Cheng, who I interviewed in episode 67 , was passionate about underwater photography. So he decided to throw up Wetpixel.com as an outlet for his hobby.
And within several years, he established the largest underwater photography community on the net. Money started pouring in!
Recently, I interviewed Joe Jo of Just Kidding films in episode 94. Joe and his buddy Bart decided to put up goofy videos of themselves on YouTube for kicks. They had no intention of making money. They just loved being goofy on camera.
Fast forward to today and they make millions of dollars putting out videos that they would have produced regardless.
Pete Sveen (episode 78) was passionate about doing woodworking projects around his house. So he documented all of his projects on YouTube and now makes a 6 figure income doing so.
Large companies like Ryobi, QuickCrete and Gorilla Glue routinely sponsor his episodes for thousands of dollars!
I have countless examples of people like Eric, Joe and Pete and all you have to do is comb through my podcast archives for more!
Figuring Out Your Passions
Here’s the funny thing about passion. Sometimes you can’t figure it out unless you carefully analyze your actions and not your thoughts.
When I first started Bumblebee Linens with my wife, this is what I told her (in so many words)…
I have zero interest in selling handkerchiefs in the long run and you’ll have to do most of the heavy lifting once we get the store off its feet.
But you know what happened?
After the first few weeks, I found myself spending all of my free time learning how to design websites for fun.
After the website was done, I found myself reading books on marketing and sales in my spare time.
After we started getting some sales, I found myself doing research on handkerchiefs, linens and lace on my own volition. I even learned how to sew!
Let me tell you this. Engineering, marketing, sales, sewing and battenburg lace don’t typically go together but I started loving it all!
Did I intentionally create a blog with the hopes of making 6 figures? Hell no! It just happened on its own.
And to be honest, making 6 figures selling handkerchiefs online still sounds ridiculous. And if you told me that I was going to make almost 700K blogging this year? I would have slapped you silly.
Editor’s Note: If you are interested in learning how to start your own online store, click here to take my FREE 6 day mini course on ecommerce.
Why Your Job Sucks
As an Asian male growing up in a tiger household, I know first hand why most people hate their jobs. It’s because most people ignore what they are interested in because they don’t believe it’s viable. And most people are afraid to try.
It’s like saying to yourself, “Man I love battenburg lace wedding handkerchiefs but I better become a lawyer because that is what is going to pay the bills.”
Then 3 years and 120 thousand dollars in debt later, you hate working 100 hour weeks and being a slave to your law firm partners.
By the way, I apologize to all of the lawyers out there. It’s just that out of all of my Asian friends, almost all of them hate being a lawyer.
If you hate your job, the REAL problem is that you are artificially limiting yourself to some preconceived notion about success that your Asian parent (or society) probably instilled in you!
Setting The Proper Expectations
So the million dollar question is can you really make a living doing what you love?
Maybe yes, maybe no.
But there’s nothing wrong with working a normal job while pursuing your passion on the side. And if you truly love doing what you’re doing, then you shouldn’t have any problems sharing it with the world.
The key is consistency. Can you maintain a steady pace for an extended period? Can you push through the difficult times when you are bored and have no desire to continue?
Here’s the thing. There’s no such thing as a business or activity that you’ll never get stressed over, never get bored over or never complain about.
Even though my ecommerce store, blog, course and podcast are successful, there are still times when I hate doing it.
But I just suck it up and keep on trucking.
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- What A Six Pack Taught Me About Starting A Successful Online Business
- Why Real Estate Made Me A Millionaire and Investing In Stocks Did Not
Steve Chou is a highly recognized influencer in the ecommerce space and has taught thousands of students how to effectively sell physical products online over at ProfitableOnlineStore.com.
His blog, MyWifeQuitHerJob.com, has been featured in Forbes, Inc, The New York Times, Entrepreneur and MSNBC.
He's also a contributing author for BigCommerce, Klaviyo, ManyChat, Printful, Privy, CXL, Ecommerce Fuel, GlockApps, Privy, Social Media Examiner, Web Designer Depot, Sumo and other leading business publications.
In addition, he runs a popular ecommerce podcast, My Wife Quit Her Job, which is a top 25 marketing show on all of Apple Podcasts.
To stay up to date with all of the latest ecommerce trends, Steve runs a 7 figure ecommerce store, BumblebeeLinens.com, with his wife and puts on an annual ecommerce conference called The Sellers Summit.
Steve carries both a bachelors and a masters degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Despite majoring in electrical engineering, he spent a good portion of his graduate education studying entrepreneurship and the mechanics of running small businesses.