I’m pretty sure that at this point in the game finding one’s passion has become one of the latest and greatest “passions” out there. But you see, that’s just the problem. No one’s actually finding their passion, they’re just passionate about looking for it. I can’t tell you how many books, blog posts, or even websites I’ve read that are dedicated to the subject of finding your passion. There are even more quotes and sayings that discuss how you cannot fully be happy in your work until you are doing something you are passionate about. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great to do something that you like or even love for a living. If you are in that kind of a fortunate situation then you should absolutely be grateful for it. However, when it comes to all of this media pushing finding one’s passion, I’m here to tell you that this is all a bunch of crap. Here’s why. If trying to find what you’re passionate about prohibits you from accomplishing things in life, then you’re truly wasting your time. It’s that simple. And I think all too often we find ourselves doing that. It’s as if the process itself is an excuse to not do anything about it. People almost feel like they’re busy or doing something meaningful just because they exude so much energy trying to find that one thing that’ll get them over the motivational hump. Frankly, they are kidding themselves. It’s like the person who checks 50 emails and thinks they’ve accomplished something when in fact not one of those emails was meaningful or couldn’t be pushed off until another time. One of my favorite quotes comes from none other than Tim Ferris who said that it’s not about finding your passion, it’s about doing what excites you. I couldn’t agree more. And that’s what I’m here to talk about right now. Screw finding your passion. Start doing things, it’s way more effective.
I was addicted to finding my passion
I cannot tell you how many times I prevented myself from doing anything because I said to myself “well, I’m not passionate about it so why bother?” I spent considerably more time reading articles, quotes, and watching videos simply searching for a spark that would get me going than actually experimenting and taking action. Here’s the thing. I don’t have the numbers but I’m 99% positive a very very small percentage of people out there make a living doing something they love. Often times those that do make a living doing something they love make many sacrifices to do so. Some take less money. Some travel away from their families. And some wind up living in lifestyles that make their lives much more difficult than they anticipated. And let’s not forget about the people who were doing what they thought was their passion and somewhere along the lines they lost said passion for it. What about that crowd?
For all you aspiring entrepreneurs out there, let me set the record straight. Finding your passion is a great thing. But occupying your time obsessing about doing what your passionate about will get you nowhere. In fact often times it leads to excuses in one’s life for not doing anything. I’ve spent hours upon hours agonizing about the whole “what’s my purpose in life?” conundrum. And after contemplation I realize those hours were all entirely wasted. I could have been doing something. But instead I was obsessing on finding the right thing. You know what that is? It’s external.
It’s saying “if I find this, then I have meaning and everything is fine.” Not to get too philosophical on you here but if you truly want to find your passion then it starts from the inside. It begins from knowing you have what it takes to do anything let alone what you’re passionate about. You need to prove to yourself that you’re capable of completing tasks, having experiences, taking action, not just formulating and ruminating. It’s only through action, will, and accomplishing what you set out to that you will start becoming successful and passionate about anything. And it is only through acting that you will open new doors to passions you may not have discovered otherwise.
I’ll take a person who knows how to get the job done and has a constant hunger for more than one who suffers from inertia and can’t take action because they think they’re only allowed to when it’s about something they have a “passion” for. How about being passionate about yourself? You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish when that’s working for you.
Why Don’t We Pursue Anything?
So then why is it that most of us live inside of our heads rather than get out there, be around people, pick up the phone and make that call, or get on that plane to visit that place you’ve never been? Simple. Fear. More succinctly: fear of failure or fear of being let down. I have this fear in a big way. We all have it. If I didn’t have this fear I think I would have visited thousands more places and tried to connect with thousands more people over the years. Think about this. What’s easier? Thinking about a life of happiness and success or actually doing what it takes to achieve that success? The answer is a no-brainer and it’s what keeps us from doing anything. God forbid you actually get disappointed. God forbid you actually stumble when you try something new. It’s that fear that keeps us from not moving. And it’s that not moving that keeps us from finding anything we like. If you’re a parent and you’re trying to get your child to eat something they’ve never tried before, what do you tell them? You tell them, “if you don’t try this you’ll never know what it tastes like.” You usually follow up with, “if you don’t like it, that’s OK, at least you tried it.” So then why don’t we approach things in our lives this way? Well, for the same reason your child won’t put that piece of salmon into their mouths. It’s simply easier not to. If you don’t take action, you can’t fail. If you don’t take action, you can’t experience something bad. But is there a way out of this? Of course there is.
How Do We Break the Rut?
So then if most of us live in a fear or failure or something bad happening, how can we actually take action? How can we find our passions? The answer is a simple but very tough thing to do: get out of your comfort zone. Getting out of your comfort zone means doing something, anything that you either normally wouldn’t or that would make you a little bit nervous, scared or (obviously) uncomfortable. The trick to all of this is starting small. It’s the only way. I’ll give you a perfect example. I’m starting boxing lessons this week. I’ve never boxed. I don’t even know if I care about boxing. What I do know is that I’m kind of interested in it. So I said to myself, “what the hell?” I bought 4 training sessions so I didn’t spend a crazy amount of money. It’s a 4 hour time commitment spread over 4 weeks. What could possibly be bad about this? I could get hurt. Sure. I might hate it, yup. But at least I’ll know. At least I’ll know what that salmon tastes like before saying no. On the other hand I just might enjoy it and pick up a skill that’s kind of fun. I just might meet some interesting people along the way. I just might become “passionate” about something. But I simply won’t ever know until I try it. And you can start way smaller than that. Try reading an article about something you’ve always wanted to learn about. If you like the article, read another one. If you like that one, watch a video. If you like the video, maybe call an expert in the field? The point is, you can stop anytime, but at least START.
So don’t just think about your job, think about your life. Want to be passionate about something? DO something. It’s the only way.