Following Your Passion

If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to help build theirs. – Tony Gaskin

There is a lot of talk out there about finding your ‘Passion’ and following it. If you want to start a business, then follow your passion. I don’t subscribe to this notion, for the most part, because I don’t find it helpful.

Let me define passion as I understand it, because it is a term that has been so overused that we all have a different interpretation.

The question usually is posed as “what are you passionate about?” When I hear this, I typically think of what I really desire to do, what really interests me and fuels my inner fire. Typically this is a topic someone is really into, such as a hobby or pursuit.

If you have a passion, that’s great, I think its good to be passionate. Where I think this method of thinking is misleading is that it assumes 1) we know what our passion is and 2) we can build a business around it. Maybe your passion is defined and can make profit, but maybe not.

So what do you do if what you are passionate about is something better suited to a side hobby rather than a business, do you just forget about the dream of working for yourself?

No.

I find its helpful to think about ‘Purpose.’ I don’t mean in a philosophical sense about what we were ‘born to do.’ I define purpose as a pursuit that suits our talents and skills that provides a net benefit by pursuing it. For example, maybe being a graphic artist could be seen as having purpose because they love art, are super-creative and find the work pays the bills and adds to their overall lifestyle. Maybe someone else working as a graphic artist would rather not have to work in front of a computer and would rather paint pictures out in nature. For them, the same job would not be their purpose, but painting may be.

Don’t over-analyze this!

Its just a simple shift in thinking more or less going from something you think would be interesting and fun (passion) to something that is fulfilling (purpose). Again, these terms are loaded, in that they have been used a lot and the meaning alters depending on who is using it.

So, where does this leave us? If I don’t follow my passion, how do I determine what I should follow?

This is the golden question and one you will have to think about quite a bit over time. It may change, but that’s how life works and the journey is what is important. Knowing yourself and being honest with yourself will go a long way. Some simple ideas to frame this concept are:

  • What do you do that is habit? Specifically, do you read certain topics naturally or are you obsessed with specific types of news stories? What do you talk about when you get home at night? What do you research when you have a few minutes? Do you follow certain topics on Pinterest?
  • What are you good at? What skills and talents do you possess? Are you a good writer? Are you very organized? Are you a great pianist? Do you like to teach? Whatever it is may not seem exciting, but it might. Regardless it will be skills and talents that will help you provide value to others.
  • What do people say about you? Do they say “she’s so smart” or “she’s so driven”? Has anyone said, “wow, you should write a book!” or “you make parenting look so easy.” This could be anything.
  • What environment do you think is most suitable to you? This is a big one and may take some thinking and revision over time, but consider:
    • Do you need people around you to collaborate? Do you want to work in an office with other people or work alone?
    • Do you want a variety of tasks, or do you want to focus on one thing?
    • Are you outgoing and want to get out and meet people, or would you rather be behind the scenes making things happen?
    • What lifestyle do you want? Do you want flexibility to be home with the kids or would you rather have a 9-5 where you can leave work at the office?

I could list a dozen, or a hundred questions to ask yourself, but I believe once you get going, you will understand the process and find the right questions you need to begin seeing your true purpose.

Maybe you love knitting, find that existing websites are unprofessional, like teaching and web design, so start a slick new website teaching people through online courses how to knit.

BUT, BUT, I WANT TO FOLLOW MY PASSION!

Circling back to passion, you will be passionate as long as you follow your purpose. If you are doing something that is meeting your personal needs, and being rewarded for it, your passion will grow. You don’t need passion going into it, but you will become passionate as you pursue your purpose.

ACTION

If there is any message I want to get across is to encourage people to action. Thinking about something is fine, but unless you take action, it will never become real. Ideas are the real currency of today’s economy, but ideas that are being realized through action. Get them out of your head and out into the world.

Once you take action, even if its to set up a WordPress site, blogging on an interest that suits you, the barrier is overcome. Action begets action. The small steps you take will add up over time. Don’t be overwhelmed by getting ahead of yourself and thinking you have to have it all figured out. You don’t. You will learn what you need to when you need to, trust me. Just get started.

Do something NOW!

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