My biggest passion failed. Had I pursued my first passion, my life would be very different, potentially much worse than where I actually ended up. My second passion drove me to become a millionaire and retiree at age 28.Now, as a entrepreneur, my second passion has entirely replaced my first passion in life. I’m grateful I can share and utilize my skills to inspire others to access the same opportunities I had to reach financial freedom at a young age. I can say with 99% definitiveness that my second passion is actually my real calling, my purpose, and my primary identity, as it turned out.Here are a few lessons I learned about Passion along the way:#1. Your passions, while deeply meaningful, may not make sense practically.My first passion in life was (and still is) singing. I had been winning awards and contests since I was 14. I truly thought I had the core talent, early in life to make a living out of singing. My strategy was to utilize my fluent English skills and ride the increasingly popular Americanization wave just developing at that point in the Chinese Mandarin market.However, my mom (as you can imagine most Chinese immigrant parents) was staunchly against encouraging my dreams. At a young age, I was constantly belittled and chastised by my mother in her efforts to dissuade me from pursuing Chinese pop-stardom as a career. She would taunt me about how everyone was better than me and I’d never amount to anything as a singer.Since I wasn’t born from wealth, my mom saw the odds from afar, much clearer than I could. I was enraptured in my dreams and could see nothing other than the glory of my inevitable success. She knew for someone like me who was not professionally trained and possessed average looks could only go so far in the media industry, which is a grueling and less glamorous industry than it seems.My mom couldn’t financially afford to support my passion nor give me an advantage over others. Therefore, she tried her best to shield me from my passion in an effort to protect me against this threat to my future.#2. Sometimes, passions can hurt you more than help you.My dream and passion of singing died a slow and painful death. I refused to take my mom’s advice and staunchly decided to pursue my talents. For people who have multiple talents, whether that’s athletic, within the arts, or in any other specialism, we often have the confidence to dream bigger with our skillset.There’s a catch: just because you could be very good at something, even at the mastery level, there is a huge difference between the top 10% and the top 1% that actually can make it in an industry. Life doesn’t give you too many chances and every step you take will have lasting consequences.For instance, if you bet your life on your sports career and you get hurt, that setback could hurt, if not end, your career. Therefore, the talent who does survive in those fields, tend to be paid above and beyond for their skill and sustainability, a reflection of the economic reality of a scarcity in the market of people who can perform at that level through the long-term.My mom saw my talent for what it was, a dangerous illusion that could rob me of my actual future that would instead need to be dependent on a long-term skill to survive. As we all know, in the entertainment industry, the life-span of most artists are relatively limited, so statistically, my odds of success were so low that my mom was terrified I’d actually sabotage my future pegged on my pipe dream.#3. Self-awareness on how much you’re willing to sacrifice will help you clarify your purpose.After college graduation, real life called. My parents made some business decisions that left me in charge of my family’s Chinese restaurant. That year, I progressed within a contest that asked me to go to China to compete on a national televised singing contest! However, by that point, I had a familial duty to help my parents survive. Our little restaurant paid the bills. If I left, there would be no one to pay our bills.How I hated my parents and extended family then! While everyone in my family was off pursuing their own interests, I was stuck doing my duty as a responsible and filial daughter, running a dinky restaurant that didn’t even pay me a real salary. I truly loathed my entire life, family, and the world for this gross injustice of watching my dreams die.However, I had to move on. I couldn’t live in hate or bitterness because it made me an angry and miserable person to be around. What I realized when I started reflecting on my life that year, was that it wasn’t my parents that I hated. It was myself and my own lack of confidence!Self-awareness proved to me that I didn’t have the guts to ditch my familial duties to pursue my dreams. That fault lies on me alone. If it were Madonna or Prince, they would have already left their parents. They probably wouldn’t have gone to college in the first place! They would have had the level of confidence required to run away from home for their dreams, throw their future away without any regrets. I didn’t have that same level of passion for my passion.#4. Move on to other passions.At age 22, I was too young to be struck down by life. I had too much optimism to let this early but great disappointment ruin my life. Even though I dreamed of Chinese popstar-dom as a singular objective, I had to find a way to move on as life after college progressed. After a period of bitterness and mourning, I started reading self-help books as a way to get on with my life.Once I fully accepted my own responsibility for my life, I analyzed my other passions. One of the reasons why I was so interested in singing, was for the most part, a desire for the reward that could be achieved once fame was acquired: wealth.That ultimately was the driver behind all my passions, the desire to live an extraordinary life, to possess the power that comes with financial success. Therefore, I shifted my focus into the passion to earn money, choosing to take a risk to become a headhunter, a career driven by commission, revenue generation, and sales mastery.I shifted my focus from singing to immersing myself into my sales career as a recruiter at 22. This decision changed my whole life.#5. Invest in a passion that you can create a true life off of with relatively low risk in accordance to your strengths.Since I didn’t want to work a boring 9–5 or work for 40 years before retiring, I wanted to fully maximize my sales job to take me out of poverty. I had no family money, still possessed student and car debt, and had no real skills outside of singing.The jobs I held were mostly blue collar like waitressing, bartending, landscaping, painting, helping out on simple white collar analyst jobs where I did administrative work. Through all those jobs, I slowly accumulated an advantage in one thing: communicating effectively with others.Since I had to manage difficult customers, handle a lot of stress relating to working grueling hours, and sometimes gross physical labor (cleaning out nasty oil traps, dealing with pests, etc.), I became very confident as a speaker and communicator and could tolerate tough working conditions. I knew how to sell an idea, persuade others, and interact with all types of people.I leveraged my communication skills into my recruitment job with the same dreams I possessed towards my first passion. I wanted to be world-class and famous as a recruiter. Since I worked at a global company, I reached immediate fame year one as a top rookie and my career continued to skyrocket.I went from being a broke and confused college graduate at 22 to earning over $215k yearly as a 25 year old top-biller. I became a real estate investor as a side hustle and parlayed all of my recruitment income into real estate and securities investments, eventually retiring at 28 from needing a job.#5. Continue refining your passions as your life, skillset, financial risk tolerance, and personal situation changes.If you asked me at 15 what my future would have been, I would have said something uneducated and irresponsible. In hindsight, I was much too naive and overconfident in my skills which, while good, were certainly limited. My work ethic and passion for my craft, while good, were not enough to truly be enough. Had I embarked on my journey to become a singer in China, I’m not sure where I’d be today.I’m not here to naysay against others‡ dreams, but if you’re like me when it comes to singing, and feel that others got in the way of your own success, then you probably wouldn’t have become successful at it anyways! Even if you had others‡ backing, the odds of success would have been the same. It’s not others‡ that can change your reality, it’s ourselves who are driven by our own interests and persevere in our own endeavors.For many people who reach the top of their field, they did it DESPITE others‡ naysaying. If you blame others for your lack of success, you will not only continue to fail, but also regress in your self-development.If I had truly possessed the same amount confidence to succeed I had going into recruitment, then I probably would have been able to realize my dream of becoming a singer. However, I didn’t and I still don’t. What changed was that, despite my mother’s protests on my career choice in sales, I knew I could succeed as a headhunter. For once, I found something I could not only be good at, but succeed at long-term.There are truly so many people out there better than me at singing. But in headhunting, I am in much more control and I’m now one of the top recruiters in my industry with a very distinct and sustainable competitive advantage. Best of all, since I focused on leveraging my passions in my career, I love what I do.Everyone’s passions will inevitably shift with the passage of time, aging, and also changes in family and financial demands. For instance, if I were to all of a sudden get married and have kids, my priorities and passions would change in an instant due to the demands of family life. There is no shame in pivoting and changing strategies.In ConclusionNo matter what your passions and hobbies are, you’re in control of your life trajectory. You can increase your confidence and self-belief in the direction of passions that will actually create a sustainable life for yourself, and pay you back for your investment with a strong degree of certainty.The worst is to spend your whole life going after things that have a small chance of success and end up regretting the time you wasted and the economic opportunities you missed as a result of those poor choices. That’s why self-awareness of your capability, strengths, weaknesses, and competitive attributes can help pave the way through self-introspection on what path you should take and commit to.Ultimately, when you do determine your direction leveraging your talent and passion, you have to be responsible for that decision and see it through.As they say: the only way through is through. Once you make a commitment, you can’t keep shifting every other day. Focus, hard work, and perseverance are all required to achieve self-actualization.