“Follow your passion.” Ugh.
This is one of the most misleading three-word phrases on the internet today. We are inundated with the phrases “follow your passion” and “seek your bliss” and rarely are they followed with instructions or how-to manuals. This is partially because we love the idea of it, but most of us don’t know how to get there. Read on for a step-by-step strategy to find success in your life.
Google Trends show the popularity increase over the past few years. Scroll over to see the separate categories and their corresponding frequency:
This is the new normal. You see it everywhere. As a yoga teacher, I’m constantly viewing images of ballerina-esque yoginis with a foot over their head, hip seemingly dislocated, saying some quote about how if you open your heart and follow your dreams, we will find world peace and have a perfect life.
Let’s agree on something: a paycheck is important. Money cannot buy happiness, love, or contentment. Money does pay for things like rent, dinner, and electricity. Today, social media touts the benefits of passion-seeking, but is this the way we make a living?
Building a career is not just about passion, it’s passion + time and planning.
Most young workers today were raised with some form of this passion-mantra. Boomer parents wanted the world for their kids and the economy at the time supported that line of thinking. We are, however, members of our economy. As citizens, we need to work, pay bills, pay taxes, and live life in a world that requires money.
Do What You Love, but be Great at It
If you won’t listen to me, listen to Mark Cuban (source video link here)
“In order to be successful in business, you have to find something you love to do but be great at it.”
– Mark Cuban
So what are we to do?
How are you going to monetize your passion? Does the current job market support or need you and your passion? This “follow your bliss” way of thinking needs re-direction.
Dream, be inspired, follow your passions, all of those things are good. However, you need to work your booty off to get there and nobody will create the path for you. If there’s something you really want and it’s not available today, what are you willing to do to get there?
Make passion-seeking more realistic by giving it legs to stand on. Here are a few tips to get you there:
1. Write it down. Start with a fresh notebook exclusively for your search and dedicate concentrated time to writing down your inspirations and research. Answer these three things:
- A) What makes you feel good? What puts a smile on your face? Seriously think about what you hope to be doing 20 years from now. For me it was the feeling of knowing I’d contributed to improving someone’s position in life, standing on a stage, watching that light bulb of realization click on when someone understood something, and that feeling I get before, after, and during my yoga practice, to name a few.
- B) In which areas do you excel? This could be anything you know you’re good at, or something that’s reoccurred in your life that you’ve been complimented doing. This is how I came to terms with my need to teach. I never knew I liked it but people always told me I was a good teacher or good at explaining things.
- C) What do you want to see in your life? Do you daydream about Saturday morning brunches on the patio of a nice restaurant with a mimosa in hand? If yes, rule out Real Estate. Write down the words that come to mind. For me it was time and funds to travel with loved ones, a home to call my own, financial security, freedom to be with family on holidays, room to grow into being a present parent, opportunities to publish my own work, among others.
You won’t get everything on your list when you decide on a path, but your list is a living thing. Your life will change and adapt, with that maybe your goals will too. Otherwise, you’ll move your life to fit your needs. It’s been three years since I started this process and my book still sits on my bookshelf, getting the occasional page turn.
2. Do your research. Now that you’ve put pen to paper on what you want, you have a baseline for what you would benefit from pursuing. I started with a few organizations I’d always wanted to work with, The State Department, The United Nations, USAID, these were my big dreams and long shots. If I was going to recreate my life, I was including these organizations as options. Then, dedicate as much time as you need to fully explore each option. Write down what you learn, apply for relevant positions, take notes on what you need to get there. Is there work that needs to be done? Make a little note and move on, come back to those when you’re ready.
3. Talk it out. We get ideas when we talk, and the majority of us are in our jobs because of people we know. It’s rare today to get a job from a web posting, not knowing a soul. When I was trying to find my way, I bugged the heck out of everyone I knew. Get on the phone and out to coffee shops. Explore the areas you think you want to work in, ask questions, and ask for advice and connections. What are their passions and how did they get here?
4. Go do it. I was having this conversation with my coworker this morning. Some of the most meaningful things in life come on the other side of the scariest decisions. Trust your instincts and know that you’ve done your homework. Make whatever sacrifices you need in the time that is right for you.
Passion & Grit
Here’s how it worked for me: I completed this fluid process and started working in real estate, teaching yoga, and teaching English. I took each piece as it came to fruition and expanded each the best I could.
Through the past three years I’ve done each one with different measures of effort and have found equilibrium and joy in each realm. I came to the realization I didn’t want to be a yogalebrity or own an English Language School (not yet) and the best investment in my sanity and success was to do real estate full time. The other two jobs I do part-time. They’re my passions, but they’re not my breadwinners. So far, it’s lovely, balance comes much easier these days.
Keep dreaming. Dreamers make the world go ’round, we create, innovate, and invent, but only if we keep roots in the ground. Trees grow strongest in the soil in which they’re intended. If you’re considering multiple jobs, read this first.
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