Following Your Passion Is Not Just Luck

Although the title of this post is Following Your Passion Is Not Just Luck, I do feel incredibly lucky that I am able to have my own business and do what I want. Self-employment has been amazing for me so far, and I can’t believe that I had any doubts last year of what having my…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 20, 2015

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Although the title of this post is Following Your Passion Is Not Just Luck, I do feel incredibly lucky that I am able to have my own business and do what I want.

Self-employment has been amazing for me so far, and I can’t believe that I had any doubts last year of what having my own business would be like for me.

I worked hard to get to where I am. I was working and going to school around 16 hours a day, 5 to seven days a week, for over five years. I believe that how hard I worked in the past 5 years led to where I am today.

And, I’m still working hard. Thankfully, I’m not still putting in 16 hour days 5 to 7 days a week, but I am still working hard. I have been better at utilizing my time and being more efficient, which has been good for me (and probably those around me as well because I’m sure I’m not as cranky).

Here is what I think it takes to become successful and do what you want.

You will need a plan.

Someone recently told me that it’s not your passion if you have to plan it out. They believed that if it were your passion, then you wouldn’t have to do anything that you didn’t really want to do. They believed that you could just do what you want, carry on life the way that you want, and everything would just come to you.

That really didn’t make any sense to me.

In order to get what you want, you will have to do things that may not be fun. One of those things is to make plans/goals in order to reach your dream job.

There are several questions that you will probably want to ask yourself:

  • So, what is it that you love to do?
  • What are your goals?
  • Do you see yourself doing this forever, or at least a long time?
  • Can you actually make money doing what you want to do? Can you survive off of that income?
  • How can you start out with your passion? How long will it take?


You will want to create a realistic plan of when and how you can follow your passion. You might not be able to get your dream job right away, and it may take some time. However, you can make a good plan with actionable steps in order to reach your dream job.


You might not have fun.

Doing what you want might mean that you need to make sacrifices.

There were many times when I had to lose out on sleep (I think a good night was 5 to 6 hours, normal was three to four in a night).

I used to wake up for work around 6 a.m., work until around 5:15 p.m., start classes at 5:30 p.m. and not get home until 10:30 p.m. Many people do the same thing and have KIDS so that they can reach their dreams. Seriously, I don’t know how some people fit everything into their day.

You just have to think about your end goal and what you are working towards.


You will have to take a leap of faith.

The scariest thing about following your passion is actually making the leap to follow your passion.

You will be nervous. You will be scared.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone who wasn’t scared to follow their passion. It’s only normal. However, if you are following a realistic plan and are working hard, then following your passion should be attainable.


Do you think being able to follow your passion is just luck? 

What tips do you have for someone who is wanting to follow their passion?


Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. When you’re feeling demotivated, think what the consequence of NOT taking action is. That ought to get things moving!

  2. When you’re feeling demotivated, think what the consequence of NOT taking action is. That ought to get things moving!

  3. Kasia

    I think that through hard work and dedication to our passion we create our own luck.

    As you say it’s important to have a plan, it’s difficult to get anywhere without one. People who believe that following a passion doesn’t entail planning have probably never tried following their passions, instead they let them remain dreams or fantasies.

    Very little worth having or doing in life comes without a bit of hard work and planning, luck comes after that.

    1. I agree. A plan is always important. If you reach something without any work at all, then it probably wasn’t much of a goal to begin with.

  4. I think being able to follow your passion also takes a lot of desire. If you don’t really want it, then you wouldn’t try and get it, right?

  5. I think ‘luck’ or random chance influences everything, kind of the right place right time sort of thing. With that being said, for the most part pursuing your passion and being able to do it as a full-time income and/or even just to make money off of it takes planning and hard work. As you described, it may mean sacrificing sleep and other things. In fact, you are almost guaranteed to need to sacrifice things if you plan on turning your hobbies/passions into income.

    1. Yes, sacrifice at some point almost goes hand-in-hand with following your passion. It is all worth it though once you reach it.

  6. What the heck was that person thinking? Anytime you watch documentaries/read memoirs about uber-successful people who followed their passions be it acting, singing, business etc, every last one of them had to put in insane hours, do menial jobs at some point and certainly perform tasks he or she didn’t want to. I’m very much in awe of your motivation and it seems you have earned everything that’s come to you. I get why you feel lucky, but truly it appears you worked your tail off to get there!

    1. I know! I was laughing when I heard the person talking about it.

      And thank you for your kind words 🙂

  7. As with most things, hard work can make you seem lucky. I’ve found that things tend to line up for me when I work really hard and focus.

    1. I bet you feel lucky as well Holly! 🙂

  8. Very inspiring, the work you put in. And I agree that all that hard work is absolutely necessary to realizing your passion. On a side note, I am not sure everyone HAS a passion (in the professional sense). I don’t mean for that to be a downer – in fact quite the opposite. I know some sad/depressed people who spend a lot of time and energy trying to find what job will inspire them and fulfill them in this crazy, almost magical way and they feel “less than” the longer they go without finding it.

    Anyway, I do think both you and I are very lucky for having found a passion.

    1. I agree – I don’t think everyone has a passion as well. Many are completely fine with going to work and treating it as such – just work. There is nothing wrong with that.

  9. “it’s not your passion if you have to plan it out. ” That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard, Michelle. This person obviously knows very little about how to achieve goals and dreams, while you, on the other hand, have proven success. Like Dave Ramsey says to those nay-saying his program, “I like the way I’ve paid off my debt better than the way you haven’t paid off yours”.

    1. I hate to say it, but the person who said it is not very successful. No, they are not a complete loser, but they could be working harder. They wait for handouts and truly believe what they said.

  10. I believe in luck… I just don’t think that the lucky ones got to be where they are by sitting around on their butts not doing anything!

  11. MBM

    I think it’s important to have a strong “why” before you strike out on your own. In other words, have a goal that is so powerful that is continues to drive you even when you’re dead tired or just sick of the grind. With any endeavor, there’s always ups and downs, so you need to have a powerful desire driving you when you’re in the down periods. This desire should be more than just “making money”.

    1. I agree MBM. Having a motivating goal is very important as well.

  12. I think trusting yourself that you’re doing the right things and headed in the right direction is the hardest part.

    1. I agree! It can be hard to determine whether or not what you are doing is “right” for you.

  13. I don’t think it’s just luck, and I agree that you need a plan for almost anything in life! Just because you’re following your dreams doesn’t mean you can wing it. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to strike out on your own.

    1. Hard work is definitely needed. I still believe in luck (at least a little bit of it!), but hard work definitely trumps it.

  14. I know, right? Maybe we should all hit this person on the head 🙂

  15. Liz

    I think pursuing your passion requires you to go out and make it happen.. You have to be persistent. Of course, I will take a little luck wherever I can get it : )

    1. I will take some luck as well! 🙂

  16. I don’t like to use the word luck. Instead, I would say “being in the right place at the right time”. And I do think that has some to do with it. But obviously planning and hard work play as big of a role.

    Congrats on your success. I hope to get there in time as well!

    1. I agree you with Kraig – I think being at the right place at the right time also does help.

      And thanks Kraig. You are doing great as well!

  17. Bre

    I was recently at a presentation at work where someone from our industry came in and talked to our students. The speaker said something that resonated with me and really fits for this topic. A student asked him if he attributed any of his success to luck or just serendipitous meetings with people. He said,

    “I do not believe in luck and I do not believe in talent.”

    It was like a mini mind explosion for me. I sat in the back and out loud said, “whoa”. It is so true though. It took him so much time and hard work and passion to get where he was. He talked about how good work takes practice which builds skill not talent. It was a great presentation.

    1. Thanks Bre for sharing that! I agree, good work takes hard work.

  18. Great post! “You might not have fun.” That really stood out to me because I think a lot of times people forget that owning a business and being self-employed can be tedious, hard, boring, annoying, and all the things a full time job can be.

    You definitely didn’t luck into your success and you’ve worked crazy hard for it. You deserve it!

  19. Wendy (@BlushandBarbell)

    To follow your passion, you have to be brave and not afraid to fail.

  20. I have had lots of success in life and none of it has come from luck. I feel fortunate that since I was 14 years old, I was never afraid of hard work and now it is just my lifestyle.

    1. Yes, same here. I’m glad that I started out young!

  21. I think you definitely need to have a plan. If you don’t have one it won’t work even if it is your passion.

    1. I agree. Thanks Jason!

  22. Elroy

    Make sure it can support the lifestyle you want! I’m a big believer in doing something you may not be as passionate about if it helps you accomplish your goals better and/or quicker.

    1. I agree with that as well. You don’t always have to LOVE what you do, but it should allow you to do other things that you love to do at least.

  23. her every cent counts

    Agreed, great points! You really need to figure out how your passion = money. And, yes, you need a plan. Sometimes there is no way to make money from a passion. More often than not, there is. I’m still working on figuring this out. I hope one day I do! Thanks for the ideas.

  24. I think it’s possible, but definitely more preparation than luck!

  25. I am taking on self employment this year and to say I am nervous would be an understatement! These are some great and honest tips, thank you.

    1. Good luck! I’m sure you will do great.

  26. I followed my passion when I started my e-commerce company. After some time I realized that it wasn’t my passion anymore. It happens and now I am onto something else. I find that I follow my passion on my days off!

    1. Yeah, passion tends to change if you make it your full-time work. Hopefully that doesn’t happen to me!

  27. While there may be some luck involved, it certainly takes courage, persistence, and drive to pursue a passion and find success. Without a plan, you would just be relying on luck, and that would be silly!

    1. I agree, thank you Lauren!

  28. I think what you said about ‘can you actually make money doing what you want to do?’ is key. My passion is handmade crafts. Can I make enough money to live on by selling my work? Nope because I’m not that good and I have a niche market. Can I make enough money by blogging about what I do and creating tutorials for beginners? Quite possibly. Now I just need a plan!

    1. Make a plan Hayley! Good luck 🙂

  29. When you work for yourself you can work any hours you want. Any 18 hours of the day that you want!

    Working for yourself is challenging and stressful. But it is worth it for some people.

    1. It’s worth it to me! 🙂

  30. I think there’s a little bit of luck in following your passion and having it all work out to be a sustainable career. But more than luck it takes a ton of hard work. I think if you’re willing to work hard enough (and smart) enough you can make it work. My passion is pets, so at some point in the near future I hope to be able to quit my job and work with pets in some capacity (how exactly, I’m not sure yet, but it’s something I think about a lot).

    1. I want to work with pets as well. I’m thinking that I might start off by volunteering somewhere 🙂

  31. Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans

    I am totally with you on the argument that planning is absolutely necessary to pursue your passions! How else will you achieve your goals?