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Following Your Passion WON’T Make You Happy

There is so much talk about passion.  And I am certainly a huge part of the passion discussion!  I talk about passion all the time.  And make no mistake, I live for passion!  So it may feel like a mean trick to tell you that passion won’t make you happy, but I’m serious – it won’t!

Maybe I should explain?

I have the privilege of coaching and  working with incredibly passionate and creative-minded people from all over the world through my program, The Thriving Photographer™, as well as through my coaching services.  Photographers come to me for help; they come to me to fix their problems.  They have all the passion one would think is necessary to be satisfied, but-they’re-not.  And for good reason.  They’re not making any money; they’re not being appreciated for their creative contribution, and their life is not in balance.  On their current path, there is no chance in sight to live an experience-based lifestyle.

Are you starting to see what I’m seeing?   

They come to me because their clients are trying to negotiate down fees that aren’t high enough as it is.  They come to me because the balance in their life has been turned upside down.  Spouses are distant and even angry over their “passion.”

They come to me because they are overwhelmed by guilt over the constant distractions of work which take them from their babies.  

They come to me because no one ever taught them how to really run a business, and as a result of “winging it,” their homes are falling apart because there just isn’t enough time for it all.  

They come to me because this “passion business” is starting to feel like an anchor that is making no contribution to the household income.

They come to me because something needs to change…  

Passion by itself isn’t enough.  

I know this because there is no lack of passion for the people who I help.  (At least… there wasn’t when they started.)  In fact, some of them have found that their passion has left them downright miserable.  There is a disconnect between all the things that they love and this photography business that they are so passionate about.  Without having the pieces in order, happiness cannot be sustained.  It’s but a fleeting moment that comes with a booking… and leaves as soon as the work sets in.  It comes with making dinner… but is replaced when you “sneak away” to work.  And it is often replaced by the feeling of guilt, settling like a cold and damp cloud over your home.  So let me say it again…  Passion is not enough.

The Recipe For Real Happiness:  

What I have come to learn and recognize as the true source of happiness is a balance-centered life that is interwoven with passion.  I see it over and over with those I train, but first and foremost – I speak from experience.  The “sweet spot” of living,  as in the ‘I can’t believe this is MY life’ kind of happy, is a combination of passion, skills (being so good they can’t ignore you) and balance.

We all start with the passion.  You have a passion for photography.  But passion alone will not make you great.  

Mozart did not start being “Mozart” the very first time he plucked at a key on a piano.  

Steve Jobs wasn’t “Steve Jobs” the first time he sparked an idea for change.  

The Wright Brothers weren’t the “Wright Bothers” from the beginning; they were just two country boys with a dream of flight.  

When we can begin with passion, that is a great thing!  How many people get to start with what they love?  When we can evolve that passion into a supberbly crafted skill in which we excel, we start seeing a great thing transpire.

But even with all of that greatness transpiring, without balance… it’s still lost.

Balance is being able to see the difference between what is necessary and what is habit.  

Balance is being able to work and love what you get to do, but then being able to change focus, to switch gears and dive into your family relationships (your spouse and your kiddos) with that same level of passion and commitment.  Too many people say that there family comes first, but their actions disagree.

Following your passion is a beautiful thing. But passion does not need to be confined to one aspect of your life. I am passionate about photography, helping women become successful and confident entreprenuers. I am also crazy passionate about being a wife and a mommy. I am even passionate about cooking… and vanilla ice-cream.

Happiness is having passion, profits and the time to enjoy it all it through a fabulous life that is centered around your family and your faith! True happiness is in finding a balance for it all.



  1. Wow you just described me in almost every I definitely think passion is the driving force behind anyone great but I do a agree it is not enough. Passion needs action, organization, balance and a plan. I can’t wait to start mine! Thanks for all your wonderful words of advice Leah.

    • You’re so welcome Korindi! I’m so excited to have you as one of our newest thriving photographers!! I agree… I think passion is the most blissful way to start but it’s not sustainable alone. I think a great example of this is in relationships, both failed and successful. We all start with passion, but true success comes from putting in good hard work coupled with service and devotion. Hmmm. I really like that thought! 🙂

  2. Cristin says:

    Leah, this was exactly what I needed to hear! I am a serious hobbyist who remains on the fence about going pro because of the fear of an out-of-balance lifestyle! I am a military wife and a mother to 4 children. Some days, I think I’m absolutely crazy for wanting to take on anything more, but I need to be more than just a wife and mommy! Thank you so much for the encouragement!

    • Cristin I completely understand how you feel! It’s almost INSANE when you think about how much we try (and even WANT) to take on. It is possible BUT it takes a ton of discipline. I have sections dedicated just to this topic in The THriving Photographer because without the balance it all just falls apart! Who care if you’re making great money if you’re family falls apart as a result.

      If you make the decision to pursue, I hope I get to be part of your journey through 🙂

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