Study Hacks Blog

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

February 22nd, 2011 · 124 comments

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. David Amann says:

    The Passion Myth.

    The Mastery Manifesto

    Love The One You’re With

    Hope this helps.

  2. Marc Hamann says:

    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…

  3. John says:

    Beyond passion: finding a meaningful life in high school

  4. Tim says:

    “Beyond passion: how to enjoy the path you’re on”

  5. Tim says:

    @john looks like you and were on the same wavelength.

  6. Brad says:

    “Happiness Beyond Passion” or “The Dream Job Delusion”

  7. Become So Good They Can’t Ignore You: how to work your way to finding your passion

  8. David Wynn says:

    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.

  9. Lord Omlette says:

    I Will Teach You To Be Passionate

  10. Lukas says:

    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)

  11. Kayleigh says:

    (Why) Passion is overrated: somethingsomething.

  12. Sirish says:

    Crystal Clear Passion For Work
    Does Passion work? For Your Work?
    What I Know Works For Your Work?

  13. Paula says:

    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’

  14. Aaron says:

    Find your passion in what you’re already doing!

  15. Dan says:

    “Fire Everywhere: Finding Passion in Any Major or Profession”

  16. David says:

    How to Win at Being Happy in Your Career: Rethinking the Usual Career Advice

  17. Barbara Austin says:

    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

  18. Barbara Austin says:

    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!

  19. Barbara Austin says:

    Or following your model

    How to Create a Remarkable Life
    subtitle–Learning how to have Hard Focus and Productive Passion

  20. The Fallacy of the Golden Ticket: Redefining the Pursuit of Passion

  21. Boo Radley says:

    Better Advice

  22. Erin Edwards says:

    Finding your Path Through the Forest (of Passion)

  23. Bronwyn says:

    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.

  24. Michael says:

    Rethink Passion?

  25. Keith says:

    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

  26. John Thaxton says:

    Passionate People Must Die.

  27. Franz Wiesbauer says:

    How about

    The Passion Trap – somethingsomething

  28. Josh says:

    I really like Ryan Nguyen’s suggestion.

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

  29. Su T says:

    Making passion work for you.

  30. Dale says:

    Pre-order! 🙂 How about Real-ize Your Passion as in making it realistic? I do like that Steve Martin quote, “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

  31. Another tweak to Rob’s suggestion: Too Good to Ignore: Becoming the Worker With a Passion

  32. Ergest Xheblati says:

    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

  33. Steve M. says:

    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.

  34. Dougal Phillips says:

    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

  35. “Fire in the Belly” … Oops, already taken 😉

  36. Robert Paul says:

    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.”

  37. Lance Berkman says:

    Thinking less to do more; An Atypical Look at the Value of Passion

  38. Hugo Nunes says:

    “Follow your Intelligence”

  39. Brendan says:

    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!

  40. Caroline says:

    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!

  41. Matt says:

    How about Embracing the Everyday: Finding Satisfaction by Not ‘Following Your Passion’?

  42. Lisa says:

    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.

  43. Balaji Srinivasan says:

    Passion is a skill

  44. Alejandro says:

    Define Your Passion: the foundation to a life well lived.

  45. Dennis says:

    Fake It Until You Make It: Forget your dreams and love the live you live

  46. Dennis says:

    *life* you live…. Hopefully at least one editor will actually read the title before it goes to press.

  47. 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

  48. Balaji says:

    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

  49. Alex says:

    Logically Passionate

  50. Amanda says:

    Passion is the Endgame: How to build a career you’ll grow to love.

  51. Craig says:

    The Durable Life: How to build a successful career path while avoiding outdated and clichéd career advice.

  52. Phil says:

    The Right Way to Find Your Passion

  53. Jasmine says:

    Rethinking Passion: Become so good they can’t ignore you.

  54. Stephen Bank says:

    Creating Your Passion

    I’m not a big fan of subtitles.

  55. bridgit says:

    where passion fear tread: who said being spectacular had anything to do with passion?

  56. LuWee says:

    ‘I love what I do!’
    Oh really?

  57. Dominikus says:

    “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!



  58. Dominikus says:

    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”

  59. Jake says:

    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.

  60. Crystal says:

    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’.

  61. Crystal says:

    encompasses the fundamentals, sorry

  62. Han says:

    Lol any incentives if got chosen?

  63. Russell says:

    Not Another Self Help Book: The Science Behind Success

  64. Study Hacks says:

    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” 🙂

  65. Mehdi D says:

    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.

  66. nli1 says:

    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.

  67. “More Than Just Zeal”

    Optional subtitle: “‘Following Your Passion’ and other myths”

  68. Cynthia G. says:

    My thought as a proposed title or one using some wording of is, “Life’s Conundrum: Succeeding Realism”.

  69. Ilhan says:

    The Passion Trap – How to live a better life

  70. Will says:


    Unconventional Passion: Life rebooted


  71. Clare says:

    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)

  72. Mir Nahid says:

    Beyond Passion

  73. Susanne says:

    This is a tweaking of what others have suggested above.

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

  74. The Unchartered Path to Passion


    The Unchartered Path to Finding Your Passion

  75. C says:

    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

  76. C says:

    Sorry. A scenario from newport’s book. Not the parachute book . Had to clarify that

  77. Henry says:


  78. sanjay (uk) says:

    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

  79. Kerry NZ says:

    Create Your Passion

  80. Gary says:

    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

  81. Roberta says:

    Vocational Delight: A New York Cabbie found it; So can You

  82. Sayjack says:

    Passion 2.0: Creating Sustainable Habits for Continued Success

  83. Mg says:

    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!

  84. Neelygirl says:

    Embracing the idea of passion without having one

  85. Nick says:

    How To Love Your Work

  86. Sakhi says:

    Why you need to take a new look at passion
    Why everything you thought you knew about passion was wrong.

  87. Sean says:

    Redefining Passion: Discover Happiness On Your Own Terms

  88. jld says:

    Find passion and achievement in your day job.

  89. SK says:

    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

  90. Alvin says:

    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

  91. Alex says:

    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.

  92. Fan says:

    Success= How to Channel Your Passion and Effort in the Right Direction.

    Hope that helps!

  93. Dale says:

    How about Hack Your Passion
    A Life Well-Lived
    Finish Your Work Before Dinner
    Work Right
    Right Working

  94. Dale says:

    Making Your Passion Follow You

  95. Andy says:

    Hard work Magical

  96. José Coimbra says:

    “Passion. Good or Bad?”
    “Passion at work.”

  97. Kevin says:

    How to find a (not the) passion.

    From interest to passion, how and why.

    Passion, made not born.

  98. Nwokedi says:

    Make up a new word that captures your unconventional ideas on passion (e.g., Borque).

    Then you could call the book: How to Follow Your Passion Borque

  99. Anuja says:

    Fuel Your Fire: Rethinking the Power of Passion

  100. Shawn Petriw says:

    “Observe the Masses and Do the Opposite: How to live an unconventional life for fun and profit”

  101. Noora says:

    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.

  102. Matt says:

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

  103. Arise says:

    Passionista via Rationista

  104. patrick says:

    what do you think of:

    the passion prescription
    the unconventional strategies which actually lead to a passionate life.

  105. patrick says:

    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.

  106. patrick says:

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

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

  107. Off the beaten path: Why passion is created not found

    Passion is a journey, not a destination.

    All paths lead to a passionate life

  108. Jacob says:

    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.

  109. Mike says:

    split-test the titles on google adwords.

  110. Elizabeth says:

    Make Your Passion

  111. JHR says:

    Castles in the Air

  112. Amanda says:

    How to Find Your Dream Job – Atypical Advice for loving what you do and doing it well

  113. Meredith says:

    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.

  114. Kurt says:

    Live your passion (and love it!)

  115. Jennifer says:

    “The Passion Pit: Unconventional wisdom for discovering your life’s purpose”

    I would buy it 🙂

  116. Geannie says:

    “Redefining Passion”. Though all these ‘passion’ titles do sound a bit adult-ish?

  117. lara says:

    “Follow Your Passion”, and other bad advice.

  118. Jason says:

    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.

  119. saklas says:

    fueling passion after it passed.

  120. Mike says:

    Passion Only Counts in Sex and Hand Grenades

    or, if that’s too much of a shocker:

    Passion Only Counts in Love and War

  121. John Ruiz says:

    How to Find Your Path: A New Approach to Becoming REAL-ly Impressive

  122. gift says:

    Here are some:

    The Power of Passion
    What drives us?
    The fire of life

    Hope this helps.

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