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How Would You Title a Book about My Ideas on Passion?

Excuse the brief administrative post, but I wanted to take a moment to tap the voluminous collective intelligence of my readers…

Here’s my question:

  • Let’s say I wanted to write a book about my unconventional ideas on passion, including, for example, why “follow your passion” is bad advice, and the type of strategies that actually work. What would you title this book?

Here are the constraints for the title:

  • It needs to be positive: i.e., give the reader a sense of how his or her life would be improved. (In other words, you couldn’t call it “Don’t Follow Your Passion,” as that’s only negative.)
  • It would need to be compelling and make it clear my thoughts are different.

Please share any ideas you have in the comments of this post. I look forward to your thoughts.

124 thoughts on “How Would You Title a Book about My Ideas on Passion?”

  1. A few options:

    “There’s more to success than passion”
    A Plan is Better than Passion
    Effort Trumps Enthusiasm
    Passion Wanes, Practice Wins

    Just to get the creativity pump going…

  2. They start rolling off the tongue once you get going…

    – Making Passion Work
    – Creating Your Dream Life
    – Stop Finding and Start Building Your Dreams
    – Stop Dreaming and Start Building Your Legacy
    – Making Your Mark: Making it Work
    – Passions: How to Make them and How to Keep Them Alive
    – Achieving Awesome: How to be so Good They Can’t Ignore You.. and enjoy it too
    – Achieving Awesome: Having it all while having fun
    – Achieving Awesome: Having it all without breaking down

    I could go on, but I’ll spare everyone for now.

  3. Wrong with Passion – Why most advice on finding your dream job is wrong (obviously doesn’t fit your criteria, but I wanted to include it anyways)

    A Different Passion – Uncommon advice on finding what you love

    The Passion Game – A new look on finding what matters in your life

    Dig In – Why finding your passion is not about thinking

    Work it out – A new way for finding your passion (I like this one the most)

  4. How about something with the words “purpose” or “meaning” (keywords that connect our search for purpose with our career ambitions)

    Or… Rethinking ambition: explanatory subtitle here

    Or maybe coin your own catchphrase for your definition of purpose – ‘[modifier here] ambition’

  5. Dear Cal: I am a total fan of your superb work; it has changed my life and the countless students I work with. I would name your new book

    Hard Focus and Productive Passion

    because it really sums up the amazing insight you have given me.

    Warmly. Barbara Austin

  6. Whoops! I forgot the subtitle:

    Hard Focus and Productive Passion
    What it Really Takes to Live a Remarkable Life!

    You welcome, Cal. I am so grateful to you!

  7. Livelihood: a different way to build a remarkable, enjoyable life.

    And the difference is basing careers on deep, often very transferable skills, and high competence earned through practice. By contrast, dream jobs often involve doing something thought to be unprofitable/unmarketable, and rising above the competition or lack of market through sheer passion. The hard part in your plan is figuring out your deep skills and rewards without a lot of futzing around.

    Let me give an example. My fiance loves roleplaying and videogames and tactical miniatures, but to earn a living from these passions he’d have to compete with an endless supply of competent, passionate, and unpaid amateurs. But the reasons he loves these pursuits are that he loves gaining and using detailed knowledge of complex systems, loves crafting quality work, and loves building things with his hands. Those are deep, transferrable, and readily marketable skills in many industries. Thus I am pushing him towards learning a trade that has complex systems, hands-on work, and traditions of craftsmanship. This provides lots of options that will make him a good living yet make him happy, instead of turning him into a starving artist.

  8. Tim Ferris mentioned he created an AdWords campaign to promote his book under several different titles, then used the title (4 hour work week) as the one to go with.

    Here’s a slight variation on Ron’s title (which I like): So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Crafting Your Passion

  9. I really like Ryan Nguyen’s suggestion.

    Perhaps “Beyond the traditional: Rethinking old (and new) philosophies of success, ambition, and passion”

  10. Hi Cal,

    I have read your ideas on passion with a lot of interest as they are truly enlightening but they seem to have left something out, which is “how do you apply these in real life?” Also you don’t mention who your target audience is as the title would have to speak to them directly. So a book on these ideas would be awesome if filled with lots of case studies.

    As far as ideas on the title, you have some good ones already as titles of the articles. They grab attention and speak to the person who is frustrated by all this “follow your passion” advice which seems to lead nowhere:
    -Beyond Passion: The Surprising Science of Finding Meaning in Your Life
    -The Passion Trap: How the Search for Your Life’s Work is Making Your Working Life Miserable

  11. You would always rip off Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon and title your book Being Passionate Without Following Your Passion

    Parsons: What’s your style?
    Lee: My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.
    Parsons: The art of fighting without fighting? Show me some of it.
    Lee: Later.
    [Parsons grabs Lees shoulder as he turns away]
    Lee: Don’t you think we need more room?
    Parsons: Where else?
    Lee: That island, on the beach. We can take this boat.

  12. Hi Cal,

    A few ideas below, some of which have been directly imported from headings in your blog posts. Best of luck.

    Sidestepping passion

    Leapfrogging passion to live a truly remarkable life

    Rethinking passion for a remarkable life

    The remarkable life

    Expertise is destiny

    The dream job delusion: how to live a truly remarkable life

    Don’t expect fireworks on your first day

    Forget the fireworks

    Happiness beyond passion

    The passion trap

    The passion paradox

    The passion conspiracy

    Delusions of passion

    Building a remarkable life

  13. Most of the titles I came up with were really corny.

    “Beyond Passion: How to create and sustain the life you secretly dream about.”

    “How to become a master: Being so good they can’t ignore you.”

    “Beyond Passion: A practical guide to living the life of your dreams.”

    “Beyond Passion: Because following your dreams isn’t that simple.”

  14. Cal, I think you’ve already named it with either:
    1. Beyond Passion: The Science of Loving What You Do
    2. The Passion Trap: How the Search for Your Life’s Work is Making Your Working Life Miserable

    Of all your excellent articles on this topic the one thing I haven’t noticed is a description of the characteristics of what it’s like to have chosen the right overall general subject. Is it as simple as picking something that you think is “cool” or “interesting”? I get that the passion is generated after gaining mastery of a subject but how do you properly pick the subject? Now that may seem obvious to you but some of us may have chosen things based on fantasized wealth or prestige or some other uncentered premise. How did you know that computer science was the right overall subject area for you? Was there something “pure” about it that made it seem right for you versus picking something else maybe for the wrong reasons? Your insights into developing mastery to gain “passion” are excellent and easily understood but maybe the underlying “passion” issue is really about correctly identifying the basic subject area to pursue.

    Thank you for all of your insights and work on this website…it is extremely valuable!

  15. I like the above mentioned Passion is overrated. I also wonder if it really does have to be positive. We’re all used to hearing that following your passion is the way to go, so something that contradicts this strongly would be a definite eye-catcher. Looking forward to the book!

  16. Love what you do: Creating Passion

    From what I remember, this is the point. You shouldn’t chase things to keep trying to find something fulfilling, but instead grow to excel at and love what you do.

  17. I like the title of a recent blog post: Zen and the Art of Investment Banking – When Working Right is More Important than Finding the Right Work

    I would suggest something similar.
    * Zen and the Art of Career Planning: Loving what you do

  18. For some reason my older post disappeared —
    1. Passion is a skill — The Art of being exceptional and happy
    2. Passion is a skill — The Zen of excellence

  19. “In Search of Passion: Find/Live a rewarding Life”

    “The Zen of Passion: Live a rewarding Life”

    “Live a rewarding Life: From Ambition to Passion”

    “Be a [relaxed] student who excels: How ambition leads to passion and a rewarding life.”

    “Become a relaxed student who excels: The fallacies of passion and the power of smart commitments” — I like this one most.

    Nice to hear that you seem to plan your next book, Cal!



  20. Another, related idea for a title:

    “How relaxed students find their profession [have a rewarding life] and excel: The traps of passion and the power of smart commitments”

  21. I think most of these titles don’t offer any thing within the constraints listed. From the past few posts the message I get is your work doesn’t define you. You can spend your whole life searching for the purpose you were meant to pursue during your life. The point being keep your job because you are going to be just as unhappy in your next career. Pursue a passion filled life and be happy you have a great job. I don’t really have any title suggestions sorry. I just am hoping to get others thinking in a different direction.

    Finally I think you might have better luck with getting unique and interesting titles of you can block everyone from seeing the posts before theirs. It is obvious once they read the first couple that is what they have a tendency to create as well. Good luck.

  22. I like Keith’s suggestion

    So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Crafting Your Passion

    Just enough words and worded perfectly. I personally find the books that say “How to” or “Be so and so” to be a turn off; very generic and easy to look over (not that your How-to books weren’t amazing, but if I had glanced at them without doing prior research, I might have overlooked them).

    The title encompasses on the fundamentals that you stress in many of your articles: Be so good they can’t ignore you. I think the word crafting gives the title a feel of unique creation that factors in individualism – no reader is the same, and that personal feel will attract them. It also identifies with your articles, highlighting on your unconventional perspectives of the concept of ‘passion’.

  23. These are fantastic. I’m on the road this week, so this will definitely give me a lot to think about. Though I can tell you now that publishers probably won’t go for “passionate people must die” 🙂

  24. How To Win Your Future: Rethinking the Notion of Passion and Success

    I like the ‘how to’ thing you’ve been doing in the title for your past few books…It gives the book a much more simplistic, direct feel to it.

  25. I like:
    The dream job delusion
    Fire everywhere

    I especially like:
    Love What You Do: Creating Passion Where You Already Are

    People are saturated with certain types of self help book titles.

  26. The Problem of Passion (tagline: You don’t need to follow your dreams to find happiness)

    The Discontent’s Dilemma (tagline: stop searching for your dream job and start searching for your dream life)

  27. This is a tweaking of what others have suggested above.

    Rethinking Passion: The Unorthodox Guide to Finding and Pursuing Meaningful Work

  28. You know that booke entitled, “what color is your parachute?”
    I would choose a scenario from the book and use that
    It would be more eye catching because it would be random. Like, “my parents were right, I should have been a doctor. Subtitle: why following your passion can leave you lost
    Maybe thats not the best scenario to use, but the point is the title draws u in enough to read the subtitle…and maybe even the back of the book

  29. Slight aside, dont know where to write it

    Cal i love your study blog, been using it, and the red and yellow book for years now. How come you don’t write as regularly anymore? maximum one or two posts a month.

    i used to enjoy a RSS feed full of your tips every couple of days now its drip dry :/

    are you busy with work or something?

    one of your adoring fans, and students

  30. Wow, a great set. I can only add a vote here. I love
    Rethinking Passion
    The Passion Game – A new look on finding what matters in your life

  31. Hello Cal,

    ” How to be a happy human being regardless whatever problems you have ?
    It’s simple!

    I think this will be agood one, however you need to play with the font to make it fit to the cover page. Like to use 12 italic font for “How to be” then 22 Arial font for ” A Happy ….”…like that .
    Anyways, thanks for sharing your personal project.. I think this is the first time you open up like this.. Right forum?.
    Thanks again and good luck!

  32. Do What You Love and the Money Will Run
    Do What You Love and You’ll End Up Poor
    Staying Focused: Why Success had Nothing to Do With Love
    Stay Focused, Achieve Your Dreams
    Pot of Gold: some appropriate subtitle here …
    All Work: How the Top Performers Achieve Their Dreams

  33. Ataraxia: Peace of Mind in the mastery of your Passions and Focus

    The Myth of Passion: How to find contentment in a balance of interest and focus

  34. Just an opinion – “The Passion Trap” really works. I’d be pretty enticed to pick that off the shelf. Lots of the other ones (especially with subtitles) sound like super corny self-help books or scams. Eek.

  35. Unfollow Your Passion

    you know on Twitter, you can unfollow things that you don’t want to follow anymore. 🙂
    I love your blog. All the best.

  36. The Art of Knowledge
    Putting your Dream into Motion
    The Expression of Passion
    Purpose Pulls, Determination Pushes: how to align the two.

  37. actually instead of that first one, try this:

    the passion prescription
    savvy strategies for creating a passionate life

    you might try a different word in place of savvy, maybe shrewd, maybe unconventional, maybe something else, but it seemed to be the best I could think of. maybe sensible? I don’t know if you’re going for more of a practical feel, in which case I’d suggest sensible or a breakthrough feel in which case I’d go with unconventional. anyways, that first word is the only one I’m not entirely comfortable with yet.

  38. third time’s the charm, let me know what you think.

    the passion prescription
    unusually realistic strategies for creating a passionate life.

  39. THE PASSION TRAP or THE DREAM JOB DELUSION are both great titles (because they show they differ from the standard advice). I’d gladly pick one of those from the book shelf.

  40. More than Passion – Life

    Having a “good” job isn’t just about “loving” it. What is love? It’s about living, and knowing the worth of what we do. In economic terms, it’s deriving utility from out jobs. It’s experiencing life, and knowing why we do what we do. It’s being able to see the big picture, while stopping to smell the chilly air in the morning and just sit there for a few minutes, wondering. It’s being able to realize that wondering is not a waste of time, and that Hamlet may have had a thought that was three quarters cowardice, but without that thought, the last quarter of wisdom would not have existed.

  41. Please write this book and send me the link to buy it when it’s published. I’ve read your Straight A Student book and would love to read about finding ones passion. I’m a 27 year old male working in finance who has no idea what I want to do the rest of my life. I’ve searched “how to find your passion” countless times, hoping for a special nugget of information that would send me in the right direction.


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