Find your passion and live the life of your dreams. Ah, how nice. Good advice. Lovely advice indeed. In fact, I bet you saw a that very message on the sliders of this website, didn’t you? Sounds like a delightfully lofty, pie-in-the-sky idea, doesn’t it? I love the message, myself. I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t.
But sometimes, hate to say it, but that well-meaning advice doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Actually, it leaves out some very BIG chapters, I’m not gonna lie. As in, OK, so I need to “find my passion and live my dream life”. So what does that even MEAN? What’s a “passion”, and how do I make it a business if I don’t even know what the hell it means and if it’s even possible to live this “dream life” everyone carries on about??
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a beautiful thing, this “live your passion” stuff. It really is the goal, the bottom line, the endgame to live your life dedicated to what lights you up the most. And I know I’ve put what I do that way many a time, sometimes I still do. BUT here’s the problem: for most of us, it’s just not specific enough. It’s like telling somebody to “do the right thing” in a situation without knowing ANYTHING about what’s going on in their life. Of course you want to do what’s right. But what “right” actually ENTAILS can’t be determined until know what the actual situation is, who YOU are, and what you are really all about.
Secondly, in order to actually jump in and make things start to happen, what has to change? There has to be a shift not only in your ability to take action but also the intention behind the action. Where are you coming from? A place of love? A place of fear? Of anger? Of joy? It could be any of them. When you dream about what it is that you want to spend your days doing, is it your biggest and most exciting thing you can imagine? Something that makes you look forward to Monday mornings and getting back to work? Would you be willing to devote more than a 40-hour work week to this thing, if it demanded it? Is the fear of losing a steady paycheck nothing to the fear of NOT chasing this thing that you love so darn much?
So in my experience, leaving the advice to “Follow Your Passion” without any specific elaboration seems to fall short for two reasons:
1) It isn’t specific enough–what does your passion mean to you, what IS it, exactly, and what does following it actually entail?
2) Sometimes it takes more than just a lot of motion and action to really get things started. Sure, action is vital, but the intention behind it–and the impetus that sparked it–matters just as much. (Cause every revolution begins with a spark, doesn’t it?) Something has to change on the INSIDE to show up on the OUTSIDE. And just to “follow your passion” doesn’t quite cover it.
This Week and next, we’ll break both points down a bit further. With any luck, I’ll give you some hints on how to figure out just what this “passion” of yours is (’cause I know that you have at least one or you wouldn’t be hanging out with me right now!) and how to determine if it’s got the right stuff to be the basis of your first (or next) jump into the entrepreneurial pool. (Because after all, this whole thing starts with YOU!) This week we’ll dive in with the first point, then next week the second, and we’ll see what comes of it for you!
So what exactly is your passion, anyway?. You might think that you know what it is–but do you, really? A lot of us know that we want to do something amazing, astonishing, fulfilling, yadda yadda…..but try to put it into words and onto paper and we’re just stumped. Uh….something cool. That’s my passion. Or maybe there are MANY things we love to do, that fire us up and make us want to charge the hill. Some of them would make excellent business ventures. Some would not. And that’s OK. Not all passions are intended to be businesses. There’s a certain way that you have to feel about something that will give you the drive to give to it what a business demands. Not every passion can carry that weight.
I ended my first business for that very reason.
My first business was all about personal training. Workouts, boot camps, diet plans, health and movement, la la la. I’d been involved in the fitness world for years, had been going to gyms, running races, and loading up on vitamins and super-foods back when nobody was doing it but Richard Simmons and Ah-nold. Personal training seemed like the perfect business for me. And why not? I loved it, I was good at it, and people needed it.
Only I didn’t love it in the right way. Not to make it a business.
I was quickly worn out by designing routines. Trying to stay ahead of the curve by being better than the box gym down the street. Playing round after round of “my workout can beat up your workout” with local gym rats and skeptical potential clients. And being swallowed up by the often religious-like zeal that seems to permeate the health and fitness industry. (Arguing ideas about weight loss and diet can sometimes go from friendly exchange to the likes of a political debate faster than you can say “tabata”.)
I loved working out and staying fit. Just not..that…much. And that’s why that venture folded. I folded it myself. And not only starting it but also ending it were both MAJORLY important steps on my path.
What I DID discover along the way was how much I loved the CREATIVE process of discovering passions. And finding ways to share them. And learning about and teaching entrepreneurship. And most of all, seeing others burst with excitement when they discovered the thing that they loved enough to make a full commitment. And discovering WHY their thing was just so damn important. And when I discovered this about myself, well, the next steps just sort of appeared. Kind of like magic.
So what is the difference between something that can be turned into a business and something that is better off as a hobby/interest/weekend-warrior engagement?
The one you commit to as a business has to be something that you’re willing to devote a lot of time and effort to, yet sometimes if feels like no effort at all. The one that feels as though a place in your heart opens up and the light rushes in. And the fire begins. Yeah, I know…sounding all “self-helpy” and “airy-fairy” again, right?
But really, what it is is that moment where you KNOW you’re on the right path, and walking it brings you great joy. It is a shift in attitude, energy, and Soul. Sometimes it happens immediately. Others more slowly and subtly. But it really doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t stop looking for it AND continue believing that it’ll show up. Both.
This doesn’t mean that you sit there and wait for the perfect idea. Nor does it mean that you flail around and latch on to everything that comes down the pike just for something to do. But if something has even an inkling of that feeling–if an idea starts to show a bit of sparkly potential, look at it, give it a chance. Take some action based on it and see what happens. Chances are you’ll know pretty quickly whether it has the right stuff or not. And if it doesn’t pan out, no worries, try something else!
So I am NOT saying wait for the PERFECT or not-at-all idea. I’m just saying wait for the RIGHT one. And that one might not be even the last one, so don’t worry about committing too soon. Then again, maybe it will be the big one, the end of the road, the be-all. Chances are it will fall somewhere between the two. And whatever you choose will always be evolving, so don’t let that stop you, either. But at some point, jump in and try something. It won’t be wasted time, not if you go all out and give it your best shot. I guarantee that either way you’re going to learn something, and that you’ll get closer to the real deal for your efforts. Bottom line here: don’t use waiting for perfection as a reason not to start. But at the same time, don’t bang your head against the wall trying to make a square peg fit a round hole, either.
So do you have some ideas that you’re kicking around but nothing has stuck yet? Or maybe you went all in with an idea only to crash, burn, and rebuild?
Next week we’ll dive in and take on point #2….what has to happen on the INSIDE…