Passion & Money, Which Comes First?

By Ellesse

In a survey conducted many years ago, 1,500 people were asked that very same question and were then separated in 2 different categories based on their feedback. Category A believed that money was their priority and would consider doing what they want to do later. 1,245 people went into that group. Category B, made up of 255 people preferred going after their passion and trust that money would follow subsequently.

What do you think happened to both groups 20 years later?

Out of 1,500 people in the whole group, 101 of them became millionaires. Only one came from Category A. The remaining 100 of the millionaires all came from Category B.

Category B!

That was the group which had decided they would pursue their passion first with money coming in later. That was the same group which delayed their gratification, knowing that their strong faith and love for what they were doing would manifest its true potential. That was probably the same group which was sniggered at by their friends for their seemingly lofty yet unpractical dreams.

And yes, that was also the group I would have chosen to be in.

What about you? Which would you select?

What was the Implication?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to imply that choosing to go after your passion means you’re set to become a millionaire. Nor am I trying to imply that becoming a millionaire means you’ll be happy and successful in life. There’s no direct correlation and I’m sure you’re fully aware of that :)

But the survey reveals something that’s pretty insightful.

When you’ve decided to go after your passion intensely and wholeheartedly, your burning desire and faith will open up new opportunities in your life, making sure you achieve what you set your mind on. In whatever form you’ve decided it to be. And in whatever time you’ve planned to realize it.

Be it monetary compensation. Or personal gratification. Be it now. Or a few years later.

My Friend’s Story

Many years ago, when most of her University classmates were wearing corporate suits and working in air conditioned offices in the downtown central business district, my good friend decided she wanted nothing of that.

She quit her first job as a web journalist in a now defunct subsidiary unit of the local television network to work as a project manager under a local celebrity director for a meager pay. She wanted to learn more about TV & movie production, a long time passion incubated since her high school days acting in school plays.

She endured erratic working hours, sometimes being awaken in the middle of the night by her boss to rush down to his place for a meeting over an “ingenious” idea. She suffered delays in getting her pay cheque when the local media industry was experiencing a slump. She even had to be a nanny at times, babysitting her boss’ young children while they were away.

During that time, though most of us marveled at her “luck” to be able to work under a celebrity, we openly encouraged her to leave her boss. Although she took our advice and left to try out a marketing stint in another company, it was not long before she crossed swords with her passion again.

A contact from her former job called her up to partner in a media production house and she had never looked back since. The partnership grew in strength and was later acquired by a large conglomerate. With freshly injected funds, her team received many new overseas working opportunities and contracts.

From what I know, she’s preparing to get her company listed and if nothing goes wrong, she’ll be the first half a millionaire among my peers. A maverick. Rewarded for her efforts because she believed in herself.

And her passion.

Why You Should Go After Your Passion First

Perhaps you may be thinking “Oh, that’s easier said than done. I’m not as lucky as your friend” or “I’m the sole breadwinner. My whole family depends on my income and I can’t jolly well ditch it to become a professional singer!”

I’m not denying what you’re saying is true. But nobody’s asking you to leave your bread and butter now to work on your passion. Plan. If you want to be a professional singer, send your demo tapes to the recording companies while you’re still working for money. Or sing in bars, lounges for a side income while getting some exposure. There are so many possibilities.

And take heed, you create your own luck. Do you think my friend would be asked to go into a partnership had she been a lousy worker? Do you think their company would be acquired if it was doing badly? It’s precisely because she’s working her butt off something she loved that she was able to generate all that good karma.

Here are a few more good reasons :

  1. Higher Vibes & Energy.

    By the time you’ve decided to work on your passion or interest after you’ve earned enough money, you may lack the energy to pursue it. Ask yourself, if it’s your dream to be a professional soccer player, do you think you still have the stamina to be one in your forties?

  2. Lower Opportunity Costs

    The earlier you’ve decided to work on your passion, the lesser opportunity costs you have. It’s not a coincidence why so many of the Silicon Valley successes are so young. Facebook’s founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example was only 22 years old when he dropped out of his sophomore year in Harvard to focus fully on the social networking site. What has he got to lose even if he fails? A year in college that he can still resume if he wants to?

  3. Guaranteed Returns.

    You’ll definitely win. Yes, even when you may have seemingly failed. The wonderful memories of having pursued something you loved is enough to keep you smiling, even when you’re on your death bed.


13 Responses to “Passion & Money, Which Comes First?”

  1. Dan and Jennifer at 2:00 pm

    I spent 15 years of my life chasing money. In the end, my health was in really bad shape, I was depressed, and generally unhappy.

    I’ve now spent 3 years chasing my passions. My health has completely recovered to the point where I don’t even have a primary care physician anymore. I love what I do every day for living and no longer consider it ‘work’! Oh, and by the way… I’m very close to replacing my 6 figure IT consulting income.

    I followed my passions and the money came any way. I’m not saying I sit around and do nothing – but now I love what I do. Big Difference

    So for me, ‘the proof is in the pudding’ – an old saying from my grandmother. :-)

  2. @Stephen at 5:32 pm

    Wow Great post. I just had to pop over and comment on this when I saw it in the email. I am about to embark on a cross-country move for my wife’s job, and I am going to take the opportunity to really pursue my passion for blogging and perhaps get my own business started.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Ellesse at 1:40 am

    Dan&Jen, I can COMPLETELY relate what you went through. I’ve got almost, if not the same predicament. Many years as a implementation consultant living a semi jet setting lifestyle did fill my pockets but it emptied my heart and drained my body. Pursuing my passion now keeps me energized everyday. Work is not work. Yet life is more than life. What more can I ask for?

    Stephen, you’ve got my utmost support. It may sound scary initially that you’re suddenly without a “formal” job but who needs one when you’ve got such a great opportunity and a very supporting wife? You’re one lucky man!

  4. Jamie at 5:17 am

    Who conducted the above experiment? I would like to read its research paper.

  5. Ellesse at 6:44 am

    Jamie, Scrully Blotnick conducted the survey in 1960 and the source of my data was from Joe Vitale’s The Attractor Factor book. Hope this information suffice and hope to see you around Goal Setting College often!

  6. Angela at 6:59 pm

    I think we should read this over and over again, to be reminded of the basic truth it explains. So simple, but so easy to forget.

  7. Ron at 4:48 am

    I was looking for a copy of the survey. Do you have a citation to it — or a web address?


  8. Ellesse at 7:45 am

    @Ron I don’t have a link to the survey as I jotted down the information from a magazine that I’ve read previously. I can’t remember which magazine I read so If anyone have read it, please feel free to let me know so I can give it the due credit.

  9. ABHISHEK at 6:54 pm

    Angela u r correct….. these things are too simple….. bt very easy to forget…

    Professors always tell me that my basics and concepts should be clear and no numerical or mathematical sum will remain unsolved….

    SIMILARLY, the above mentioned facts(about chasing passion) are the basic…. if we stick to these basics …we wont be ever unsuccessul….

  10. ABHISHEK at 7:05 pm

    hey guys u all have been talking about chasing one’s PASSION…. but how do u know what u r passionate about…. ??.. .. i mean taking my own example, i am pursuing engineering but i don’t know going in which branch will not bore me….whether automobiles or robotics or I.T. …. if u ppl hv any suggestion for me to know my passion….

  11. Socram at 2:30 pm

    What skin color were they? Did they have parents that supported them financially. Was their passion financial services, the most lucrative career one can get into in this age? Are all the people in group A still alive…? etc

  12. Socram at 2:32 pm

    @ Dan and Jennifer

    Happiness is internal

  13. Ellesse at 3:26 am

    @Abishek Thanks for your comments. Think I replied to a question similar to yours here. Not sure if it’ll help.

    @Socram Sadly, there wasn’t much info in the survey that could help elaborate on the concerns you raised. And I understand you’re giving everyone here a reality check. It’s good to read things – especially those on the internet – with a pinch of salt. But I certainly hope this article has given those who’re still on the sidelines thinking of whether to plunge into something they’re passionate in, some food for thought. Which was the original intent.


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