Time flies... I am realizing this time and time again. I've started to take university courses earlier this month and I put time and focus on these courses for the past few weeks. Now it's getting late again in the week and I still haven't written my blog... It's not easy to continue if there are seemingly more important things on schedule.
But I need to continue. I feel that it is important. Sometimes I am not sure why but this morning I received an email from a former colleague. He said he's reading my blog and had some book recommendations for me. That was unexpected and it gave me the motivation to write this blog.
So, how do you continue with something that nobody requires you to do except for yourself?
Well, there needs to be something that I like to call passion. No passion, no progress and continuation. I am not talking about a crazy amount of passion that makes you run around and tell everybody about "it"... I'm talking about a little spark of passion that needs to be there, somewhere inside. You can find it and feel it if you search for it. And when you don't think about it you might not even know that it's there. There are certain things in life you have a passion for. It's important to find them!
But how do you find them? There are many ways, I assume, and I want to share my own way with you.
Recreating that special feeling...
I had a passion for my job, I still do when I think about it and I would do it again if I had the chance. I believe that I was good at what I was doing and that I could take my little spark of passion and light up big fires around me, inside of colleagues, clients, family... motivating and convincing other people to do what I felt was the right thing to do created this constant feeling of achievement and happiness. I created my own picture of how consultancy should work. It worked for me, and I think it worked for others. And it didn't require me to do anything to motivate myself in the morning. I woke up - I knew what I had to do - I wanted to do it - so I did it. Win-win.
But what does that special feeling, that passion, feel like? Well, I guess it feels a bit different for everyone. For me, passion for something expresses itself in two ways:
1. It's something I want to spend time on - especially when I don't have time... everybody knows that feeling of "I'd rather be doing something else now."
2. It's something that my mind wanders off to/makes me do especially if I am not particularly busy...
Let me explain the second one... Finding your passion can be connected to realizing what your mind subconsciously leans towards. If you are day dreaming for example... what are you thinking about? What comes to mind? What do you dream of? When you pick up your phone and scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook... what kind of information and pictures do you look at? Watches? Cars? Electronics? Clothes? Cats and dogs or other animals? Stocks? Haircuts? Maybe even books, video games, pottery, bakes, firetrucks, furniture, paintings... think of how you feel about these things. What kind of feelings do they create? Do you ever think "What would it take to *enter action verb here* this..."? Why not take it a step further? Find out what it takes... find out if it's your passion beyond watching others do "it". Feed that spark and try to recreate that special feeling!
Ideally it is something useful. Sometimes there's a fine line to define what's useful and what's not. I'd say binge-watching a TV-series is not a useful thing. Nor is playing video games - at least at first glance. However, if you are very passionate about video games, why not dig deeper, critically review them and start a blog about video games? Or learn how to program a video game? These things might be useful not only for you, because they feed into your passion, but also for others...
Step 1: Explore the past - and the future...
After leaving my job I tried to find something new that made me feel the same way, provided me with a high level of energy and created the special feeling that I can make every day turn out to be a good day when doing "it". So I started reflecting on the key factors of my previous job that created these feelings.
I realized that one of the key aspects of my job that made me feel passionate about it was to create and send messages containing my views, thoughts and emotions in a way that other people could benefit from it. I think this was the main focus of many presentations, emails and other forms of written communication that I "produced" throughout my professional career... "delivering a message"... "creating something impactful". Some people criticized me for being too outspoken and "communicative" - well, at times I might have been - but in hindsight I am truly convinced that without being that way I would have had less success.
So, writing... getting a message across... sharing my thoughts... learning new things to share... these things make me feel good and energized. Seems like I have a passion for communication!
There are many ways of looking back at your life. You can look at different episodes and one by one dissect them to look for what made you feel passionate about your job, family life, how you spent your free time or vacation, etc.. There's also the option to look at it from a higher point of view. What's the overall theme? What are the things you always returned to in all the different phases and episodes of your (adult) life? What have you been particularly good at? Look into it, learn from it.
However, there's no rocket science to understand that some things only develop later in life. To find out if you have a passion for something it might not be enough to dig in the past. One needs to try out new things. For example, if you've never tried to cook in your life, you should try it. Some people have a hidden talent. There are cases of business people who though they'd be working in an office all of their lives - and now they are chefs!
Step 2: Realize what it's for...
The next important thing I realized is that one needs to understand what "doing something you feel passionate for" provides you with. Starting out by following your passion to make it pay your bills is just plain stupid. You will soon realize that by doing so you are extinguishing every little spark of passion by falling for external factors like recognition or money. That's just not how it works.
Many people claim that they followed their passion and made it their job so it started to pay there bills. What they don't tell you is that they've had a fair portion of luck to help them get off the ground with whatever they wanted to do. No, I'm not saying that they didn't put in a lot of work and concentrated of making a living following their passion. They most probably did BECAUSE it was their passion and they did it for themselves. But so did a million others. The ones that live to tell the tale probably didn't have much more passion than the ones that didn't make it. They'd rather had more talent, a good amount of luck and good fortune that helped them along the way. And probably the right contacts, good timing, etc... If you don't believe me, you might want to read the book "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.
I keep telling myself that all I'm doing right now I'm doing for myself. The good and the bad things, playing video games, eating bad food but also writing my blog, reading and learning, running and working out... and this is key. "You do it for YOU - for your own mental and physical health. Everything else comes second..."
Step 3: Ask the right questions...
Another important aspect is that you need to create an environment that feeds into the passion you have. At the beginning you might need to create special time slots to feed that little spark so that it doesn't burn out. After feeding it for a while you will realize that you start to see certain things in a different way: you will start to judge the things you do by how much they feed into your passion. At this point you should try to minimize amount of time you spend on things that doesn't "feel right". You might want to get rid of things that occupy your brain and keep you from doing what you feel passionate for. Don't get me wrong, it takes a while to get there. There will be distractions and things that are "more important" for a good while...
If you are not sure if you are passionate for the things you are doing, ask yourself:
"Why am I doing this?"
"Who am I doing this for?"
"What's the outcome?"
"What does it provide ME with?"
If the answers don't revolve around YOURSELF, don't do it.
But if you've found it, feed it. Let there be no "zero days". A little bit is better than nothing - no matter how small the effort is, it will pay off on the long run...
Feeling good about yourself...
Writing about all of this off the back of a message I've received from a former colleague makes me realize how passionate I feel about writing. No matter if 10 or 50 people are reading this... I've done what had to be done. I've achieved what I set out to do. If only one person gets back to me in regards to one of my articles, no matter if it's a compliment or criticism, it was worth writing all 50 of them and putting time in. It makes me feel good about myself.
Yes, it might be coincidence that all of the things I feel passionate about are things that imply doing something that others can profit from, but to be honest: I don't care about others too much. Why? Because if I'd only care about everybody else and never think about myself, how can I ever find out what I feel passionate about? This might sound a bit selfish and egoistic. "Do it for you", "Feel good about yourself", etc..
But I want to make a different point: ultimately, having a passion always involves doing good for others - by doing good for yourself. The starting point is that you think about yourself and find out what it is that makes you feel good. Only then you can share good feelings with others. I've realized that the foundation for everything good that comes out of my mouth and that I create with my own two hands hands is mental, physical and social health. The first two I can achieve by taking care of myself, the last one is - in my humble opinion - a result worth aiming for.