Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.
What it Means to Live with Passion
Passion is the human equivalent of the fuel that powers your car. In a similar way passion powers a lifetime of dreams. It is an energy source for living an inspired life that is driven by purposeful action. In more specific terms passion is your vision for your life based on your core values, strengths, skills, interests and talents. With it you can overcome any obstacle, solve any problem, and circumnavigate the endless challenges that life throws your way. Without it, people often succumb to anger, frustration, disappointment and continuously get caught up in seemingly insurmountable problems.
Passion is often born from experience. It’s born from the act of trying new things and from broadening your horizons. In other words, it isn’t something that suddenly finds you while you’re sitting on your couch at home watching television. It is rather something that you must proactively pursue by venturing outside your comfort zone to gain the necessary experiences to trigger that “aha” moment that can change the course of your life forever.
Moreover, passion is something that you develop through either love or hate. It comes through love for your work, for life, for the challenges you face, and for making a positive difference in other people’s lives. However, it can also come through the hate of losing something valuable, through not meeting your expectations and through continuous failed attempts and a lack of results that suddenly stirs up a deep desire within to bring justice to the injustices that life has brought your way. So in other words, passion comes from the experience of both pain and pleasure. But it matters not where it comes from as long as you are able to use it in an optimal way to help support purposeful action.
The Advantages of Living with Passion
It is said that money often follows passion, and yet most people tend to chase money first and foremost and then wonder why they make very little progress. Whether there is truth to this argument or not, there are a number of other things that are worth considering when it comes to cultivating your passions.
For starters, those living with passion are less likely to suffer from fear, indecision and procrastination. Why? Because passion is a natural human fuel that inspires action, and those without passion are unfortunately running on empty, which is why they often succumb to fear and procrastination when things don’t go their way. They simply just don’t have enough fuel/energy to get through the tough obstacles along their path, and so they pull themselves right back into the safety net of their comfort zone.
Passionate people also experience fear, indecision and are tempted by procrastination when faced with uncertainty and the unknown. However, despite these doubts they push through it with a resilient energy that the person without passion simply cannot muster. They are able to get through these challenges because their passion propels them forward beyond the present moment. Their passion allows them to clearly see beyond what is happening right now by giving them a glimpse into a more positive and inspiring future. And that is exactly what drives them forward.
Passion is of course a form of energy that tends to improve our focus and self-confidence as we work in the pursuit of our desired aims. Passionate people are focused because they have clarity about what they want to do, be, have and achieve in life. And because they have this clarity, this helps build self-confidence in their daily choices, decisions and actions.
Above all else, with passion life just becomes more satisfying and easier because you are doing what you love and living your life on your own terms. Yes, you will still experience heartbreak, setbacks and endless challenges. However, as a passionate person you are in full control and take total and complete responsibility for making the necessary changes to improve your life. As such this gives you personal power and allows you to live with a definite purpose that propels you forward each and every day. In fact, often by following your passions what you will find is that it will help enhance all other aspects of your life because passion is a state-of-mind above all else. And as your mindset changes, your life is transformed as a result.
Gaining Clarity About Your Deepest Passions
Let’s now take a look at how to unlock your deepest passions. This essentially means gaining clarity about your personal brand of expertise you will bring into the world. This level of expertise is of course built upon your core values, personal strengths, motivations and innate talents. You of course might not consider yourself an expert in anything particular. However, that doesn’t mean that you cannot grow your expertise in a very specific niche area that is aligned with your core values, strengths, motivations and talents.
What follows is a series of questions that will help you to pinpoint your deepest passions. Take your time going through these questions. Rushing this activity will provide very little value. It’s through deep thought and self-reflection that you will find the answers you are seeking.
What am I naturally good at?
How could I apply my talents creatively?
What makes me feel good about myself?
What do I fear that excites me?
What activities allow me to be creative?
What causes am I interested in?
What do I enjoy reading about?
What do I love talking about?
What would I regret not having tried?
What would I love to teach others about?
What help or advice do others often seek out from me?
What am I most grateful for?
What would I do for free for the rest of my life?
What kind of life do I want to live?
What do I want to be known for?
How do I define success?
What is my real passion?
If after working through these questions you are still struggling to identify your passions, then all this means is that you may need to broaden your horizons a little.
It’s very possible that up to this point in your life you have had a very narrow range of experiences, and as a result you haven’t found anything that sparks that fire within. As such, I would suggest to spend the next few weeks and months, or even dedicate an entire year to trying new things. Go out into the world with a curious fascination and explore new activities, hobbies, and pursuits that help you express yourself in a unique way. Maybe go online and learn something new that you hadn’t considered learning before. Take a class or join a meetup group in your area to connect with people who could ignite your passion-fire.
Hanging around people who are following their passions and making a difference in this world can potentially help trigger a burning desire within you for something you have been longing to pursue all these years. Their energy and enthusiasm can rub off on you in surprising ways. Just maybe you can even get behind a cause that others are fighting for. Yes, it might not initially be a cause that you’re completely passionate about, however being within an environment where other people are passionately pursuing this cause can very well help you gain some clarity about your own passions.
Sometimes the one thing that is preventing us from unlocking our passions is the fact that we simply have too many commitments, obligations and distractions in our lives. There is just too much going on that there simply is no space for anything else. If this sounds like your life, then it’s important to step back and let go of things that no longer matter. Only by letting go will you find the time and space to bring something new into your life that will potentially serve a higher purpose and bring more meaning to your daily activities.
Making a Living from Your Passions
Having identified your passions, it’s now important to determine whether it is something that you can make a living off of.
The reality is that some passions will never be anything more than a hobby. A hobby is something you enjoy doing in your spare time that often doesn’t translate into monetary gains. However, that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your passions. You might however need to tweak things a little if you desire to turn your passions into a business.
To turn you passion into a business it must above all else solve a problem. It must solve a problem that enough people experience. However, experiencing a problem isn’t enough, these people must experience a level of frustration that forces them to actively seek out a solution to their problem. And that’s where your passions fit in. However, you must be able to provide people with the right solution at the right price and in the right way. Your passion business must also be scalable.
The purpose of this article isn’t about how to turn your passions into a business. It’s rather about how to live a life with more passion and purpose. However, if you do want to turn your passion into a business, then I have included several links at the end of this article that explore this topic in greater depth.
Five Ideas for Keeping Your Passions Alive
Once you are clear about what it is you are most passionate about, you can now spend each day living with purpose and intention. However, this is of course easier said than done. Many people have passions, and many people are very clear about what they’re most passionate about, but unfortunately for one reason or another they are unable to keep that passion-fire burning for long enough to make a real difference in their lives.
Within this section let’s discuss how to keep that passion-fire burning long-term. However, the long-term view always begins with a short-term approach and action plan that will help you get to your long-term objectives.
Establish Concrete Goals and an Action Plan
Your very first objective is to establish a set of concrete goals based on your passions. Knowing what you’re passionate about is simply not enough. It is the act of turning your passions into physical goals you can work towards that will make this process tangible and real. For a better understanding on how to set effective goals, please read The GROW Model and also about the SMART Goal Setting Process.
To get you started, it’s helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
What set of goals can I build around my passions?
How could I turn my passions into concrete and tangible objectives?
Once you have laid out your goals, it’s now time to outline a plan of action for achieving them. This plan of action must be built upon your highest priority activities. These are the activities that will bring you the highest returns for your efforts. This is all about working smarter not harder. It’s about establishing a clear path for yourself moving forward. There is no room for “wishy-washy” plans. You must establish a definitive plan of action for each day, week and month that will help you to move towards your desired aims.
Setting Clear Boundaries
People who fail to set boundaries often drift off course due to the endless array of distractions that life presents them with.
Boundaries help you to lay down “ground rules” of what is or what isn’t acceptable and about what you will or won’t allow yourself to indulge in. Having clear boundaries in place allows you to take control of your time and space with minimal distractions from the outside world and other people. With boundaries in place you are no longer at the mercy of outside circumstances, and that will give you the space you need to “zone-in” on your deepest passions.
Working Through Roadblocks and Challenges
Pursuing your passions will rarely be a smooth ride. You will undoubtedly experience several roadblocks in the form of limiting beliefs, unresolved emotions, self-doubt and other obstacles that might hold you back from living the life you seek. You must successfully navigate through these challenges in order to free your mind to focus primarily on your passions.
Of course, navigating through these challenges will not be easy, but there are a number of things you can do to help you work through these roadblocks successfully.
For starters, it’s absolutely paramount to take good care of your health. When you’re feeling healthy you will have the physical energy and mental stamina you need to face any challenge head-on. You will be more alert, more focused, and therefore able to make better decisions in the moment. That is above all else the single most important factor you need to address. I’ll bet that you have never seen a passionate person lacking in energy. 🙂
Secondly, when the going gets tough while pursuing your passions it’s critical to stay focused on the journey and not the end result (your goal). When you focus on the journey you are concentrating on the process of getting things done, which helps build momentum. The alternative is to focus on the end result, but that’s when doubts often creep in because when faced with adversity there is just too much uncertainty about the end result, and this can of course lead to self-doubt and fear that you might not reach your desired destination. It’s therefore paramount that you focus on the one single task that you are working on right now and do that to the very best of your ability before moving onto the next activity.
Thirdly, it’s important to always stay open-minded to the possibilities. The roadblocks and challenges that arise might seem unfortunate on the surface, however within every problem there is a seed of opportunity. However, you must stay open minded and vigilant to the fact that these opportunities exist. You can learn more about this process by studying how to unlock opportunities.
Finally, don’t take yourself so seriously. When we take ourselves too seriously we often lose that sense of curiosity and wonder that sparked our passions in the first place. However, when we learn to let go and have a little fun no matter what obstacles we face in the present moment, we naturally become more open and receptive to what’s going on around us. And as a result we have more clarity and can make better decisions moving forward.
The Mindset of a Passionate Person
Passionate people live a very specific way. They live this way because of a very specific set of qualities that consistently drive them forward. These qualities are expressed in their daily choices, decisions and actions. However, they are not qualities that people are naturally born with. They are instead qualities that you can learn to cultivate within yourself with a little practice, patience and dedication.
In no particular order, here are the qualities that the most passionate people possess: dedication, confidence, courage, singled-mindedness, determination, discipline, generosity, optimism, curiosity, flexibility and a light-hearted approach.
In order to instill these qualities into your own persona, take time each week to select just one quality that you would like to cultivate and ask yourself the following set of questions. Let’s use curiosity as an example.
What is the value of living with more curiosity?
How will it help me live a more passionate life and attain my passion-goals?
How will I live with more curiosity this week?
What specific habits and rituals could I develop to help me become more curious?
In what specific situations will I try and be more curious?
What specific questions will I ask myself to spark my curiosity?
Now make a conscious effort over the course of the next week to live with more curiosity based on the answers you gave to these questions. Then in the following weeks move on to another quality you would like to cultivate and ingrain into your persona. Patience is of course the key here. It might very well take you several weeks to develop the habit of living with more curiosity. And that’s okay. Habits take time to develop. Be patient with yourself and only move on when you’re ready for the next challenge. Trying to cultivate too many of these qualities at once can quickly become overwhelming as it requires a huge mental effort. Taking small gradual steps is the way to go. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
The Requirements for Passionate Living
To live a passionate life not only requires a mental shift, it also requires massive action. Yes, passionate people are massive action takers. They don’t procrastinate, and they certainly don’t succumb to their fears. They instead make an effort every single day to step outside their comfort zones. Moreover, they show a willingness to take chances and calculated risks that help move them forward. However, above all else, passionate people view life as an experiment.
Passionate people tackle life head-on from an experimental perspective. In other words, they treat everything as an experiment that they can learn and grow from. The value of living this way is that there is no failure. There is only feedback. Just like a scientist who tries an experiment that doesn’t quite go as planned. This experiment provides the scientist with feedback that helps them make adjustments before conducting their next experiment. And they will continue running experiments and making adjustments until they finally get the results they originally expected. It’s as simple as that, and that is why passionate people get so much accomplished. It’s because they aren’t afraid to fail or make mistakes. Their entire life is an experiment, and they are the head scientist within the lab of life.
Common Passion Traps and How to Avoid Them
Living with passion can certainly enhance our lives and most often leads to more happiness and greater levels of fulfillment. However, passion can also become a very dangerous trap that can lead us down a less than optimal path. You see, living with passion requires a delicate balance between enthusiasm and logic.
When we’re passionate about something we naturally have this zest, energy and enthusiasm (aka blinded optimism) that makes us feel as though we can be, do and have anything our heart desires. This is all well a good. A little confidence of course goes a long way. However, this is where many people go wrong. They get so absorbed in their passions and so deeply lost in their uncontrolled excitement that their passions literally cloud their judgement.
When we’re overly passionate about something we tend to develop a set of belief systems around our passions. In many instances these beliefs turn into unshakable convictions that influence our perceptions of reality. These convictions shape how we see things and consequently the decisions we make. The problem is that when you have a steadfast conviction nothing else matters. In reality things might be one way, however in “your reality” you see things very differently to your own detriment. And then of course you make choices and decisions based on your own perceptions of that reality. In other words, when we’re overly passionate about something we don’t see reality how it is, but rather how we make it out to be, or how we desire to have it.
In order to avoid falling into this trap, it’s important to stay vigilant of your thoughts and emotional tendencies. Don’t get drawn into making irrational decisions based purely on your passionate feelings. Instead, think rationally and logically about every decision you make moving forward. Only in this way will you avoid falling into this dangerous passion trap. There are however still other passion traps that you must also avoid falling into. These passion traps include:
- Focusing only on money.
- Waiting for passion to materialize.
- Succumbing to the fear of success or of making mistakes.
- A workaholic lifestyle that throws your life out of balance.
- The pitfalls of procrastination and perfectionism.
To conclude our discussion, let’s now take a look at some of these traps in a little more detail.
Focusing Only on Monetary Gain
It is said that if you follow your passions, the money will sort itself out. There is certainly some truth to this, however it does depend significantly on making sound and educated business decisions along the way. You simply won’t be able to turn your passions into profit if you don’t have the right business model in place. But what about money? What about focusing all your passions on monetary gains?
The trap with focusing solely on monetary gains is that money is only the by-product of something. It is the effect that originates from a cause. In other words, it is something that only comes as a result of something else.
You might for instance tell me that you are a stock trader, and that you’re passionate about money. However, in reality the likelihood is that money isn’t your passion. Stock trading is your passion and money is the reward you get from trading stocks successfully.
The trap with pursuing money for the sake of your “love for money” is that you will often fall into the trap of chasing “get rich quick” schemes. And we all know how they end up. What often happens is that in their pursuit of money people get into a whole lot of debt. They get into debt because they end up chasing the “next big thing”. The problem is that they don’t have passion for this “thing” and instead end up making decisions based purely on financial gain. And when money doesn’t come in as expected, they move onto something else. In other words, they are constantly scattered in their efforts and never stick to anything long-term. And that’s how they end up in a whole lot of debt.
It’s therefore important to find a passion that solves a problem and provides high levels of value for a profit. Focus all your passions on this venture and the money will tend to work itself out.
Waiting for Your Passions to Materialize
Another trap that many people fall into is waiting for their passions to suddenly materialize. They wait and wait for something or for someone to light a spark that will get their fire burning. But the truth of the matter is that these people will most likely end up waiting a lifetime and unfortunately very little will materialize in their life.
Instead of waiting for your passions, you must chase them down. The best way to do this of course is to go out into the world and try new things, experience as much as possible, learn and dabble in unique experiences, and interact with a variety of people who are pursuing their own passions. This is by far the best and quickest way to find what you’re truly most passionate about.
Succumbing to Your Fears
So many passions never truly materialize because of fear. People fear taking risks because of uncertainty. People fear making mistakes, and so they fail to follow through with their actions. People also ironically fail to pursue their passions because of a fear success and as a result stay within the confines of their comfort zone. They fear success because success means change. And change brings discomfort. They are just too comfortable where they are. Yes they want almost nothing more than to pursue their passions, but pursuing their passions means that their life will need to change, and unfortunately they are not ready to take that step. As a result they procrastinate and succumb to their fear of success.
A Workaholic Lifestyle
Another common passion trap results in a workaholic lifestyle that throws people’s lives out of balance. These people are so intensely passionate about a certain aspect of their life or career that everything else goes onto the back-burner. What these people fail to understand is that living with passion is a lifestyle choice. It’s not about choosing to be passionate about one particular area of life. This kind of passion is self-destructive because it negatively affects all other areas of life in debilitating ways.
The key takeaway here is to find balance by infusing your passions into all the major areas of your life. This essentially means finding ways to express your passions with your family, in your relationships, within your career or business, with your health, and in all other important areas of your life. Therefore choose to live with passion, but be sure to spread it out evenly through all aspects of your life.
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- 3 Ways to Live Out Your Passions in Ways You Wouldn’t Expect @ Fast Company
- 5 Keys to Living a Passionate Life @ Wake Up Cloud
- 5 Mistakes You Must Avoid When Following Your Passions @ The Change Blog
- 5 Things I have Learned About Living Your Passions @ Forbes
- 6 Clues for Finding Your Purpose and Passion @ Psych Central
- 6 Lessons Learned from Turning My Passion into a Business @ Forbes
- 6 Tips to Turn Your Passion into Profit @ Entrepreneur
- 6 Ways to Live a Life of Passion and Adventure Right Now @ Tiny Buddha
- 7 Steps to Living with Purpose and Passion @ LinkedIn
- 10 Surprising Truths About Finding Your Passion @ Mind Body Green
- 10 Things that Truly Passionate People Do Differently @ Elite Daily
- 10 Ways Finding Your Passion is Good for Your Confidence @ Pick the Brain
- 15 Tiny Actions to Strip Yourself Bare and Reveal Your Passions @ Live Bold & Bloom
- Are You Ready to Turn Your Hobby into a Business? @ Wise Bread
- How to Find Your Passion Using 5 Creativity Exercises @ Entrepreneur
- How to Turn Your Passion into a Business @ Inc.
- The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Passions @ Wake Up Cloud
- Top 8 Reasons You’re Going Broke Pursuing Your Passions @ Forbes
- Turning Your Passion into a Business @ Forbes
- Why “Follow Your Passion” is Bad Career Advice @ Huffington Post