Tag Archives: passion

The Moment the Light Went On

As anyone who’s been reading this blog since its inception will have noticed, I have been a very sporadic blogger at best.

Blogging is something I am meant to be doing. Frequently, that little lightbulb goes off in my head that says “this would make a great blog post topic!” and though I want to blog, and sometimes even intend to write that post when I get home, I nearly always have shoved the idea away, consciously, and have been avoiding this blog at all costs.

I haven’t been sure why until just recently.

A little backstory here to catch you up on my life at the moment: I’m currently on a working vacation in Hawaii. Vacation, because it’s been four years since I’ve taken a real holiday. Hawaii, because I have never been to a tropical beach location and have been dreaming about it for ages, and it fits the bill for the type of activities that jive nicely with a work retreat. And why am I working on vacation, most of all? Because I needed to work on my business rather than in it. To do that, I needed to get away from work and away from all my regular life distractions, so I can strategize… and if I’m going away physically, I’m killing two birds with one stone and taking a holiday!

I needed to do business strategizing because I’ve been unhappy with the process and results of two specific parts of my business, and I needed to find a way to make them work for me instead of feeling like I’m fighting against them all the time.

It’s become clear to me while working on this strategy that:

  1. I had resigned myself to mediocrity in my career due to my lack of solutions to these business processes that weren’t working.
  2. I’m not actually okay with mediocrity, however.
  3. There are still avenues I haven’t exhausted for new processes in the areas of my business I’ve been unhappy about, so I have no business throwing in the towel and pretending they’re unfixable. And, interestingly:
  4. While my primary focus with this strategic planning session on my day job, I’ve been hearing this clear voice that keeps telling me that blogging needs to be a regular part of my life. It doesn’t need to be part of my job strategy, but it needs to be a part of my life strategy.

And in seeing all four of these insights together, I realized that the avoidance of this blog has been due to my resignation to mediocrity. I may have settled in some aspects of my life, but I am really passionate about blogging (I know! I don’t actually even participate in my passion. The irony is not lost on me) and I was not okay with having a mediocre blog. And I think I had started to believe that I could do no better than mediocre, so it was easier to just not blog at all than to do it poorly. There’s also some fear that this blog will not measure up to the one I wrote previously, before starting my business. If you don’t try, you can’t fail, right?

WRONG. So, so, so wrong. Not participating in your passion = GIANT FUCKING FAIL.

Another thing I do that is pretty dumb, when I have the presence of mind to actually think about it? Believing that past results determine future results. It’s a sign that I’m a bit jaded and have been bashed about by life a little bit, but that doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t matter how many times I have failed or will continue to fail at things in the future, or how many times I don’t live up to my own hopes. That doesn’t mean I should lower the bar, and it doesn’t mean I can’t ever succeed at anything, though I’d say it’s pretty likely that I won’t if I stop trying.

In the words of Thomas Edison,

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With Apologies to Sean Kingston

Photo credit: Life’s a Blog

Drive. Spark. Fulfillment. Joy. Fire burning, fire burning on the dance floor. It’s all about one thing: Following your passion. Can we talk about this for a minute? I have a beef with it.

Follow your passion, say all the career advisors and life coaches and self-help junkies. Do what you love and the money will follow. If your job is not related to your purpose for being put on this earth, you will regret it. It’s pinned all over the “words of wisdom” Pinterest boards, for Pete’s sake. And, cue eye rolling. It happens so often these days I’m afraid my eyes might get stuck back there like my mother warned me as a kid.

In my life, I’ve held 17 different jobs. 10, if you don’t count the ones I had for 3 months or less. In that illustrious collection of employers, I have had exactly one job that I genuinely loved. (Coffee barista, for the record). I hated one job so much, it left me with more damage than the emotional baggage accumulated by the combined sum total of my teenage years and the endings of three serious romantic relationships. Man, that job really was toxic to my soul. But the rest… well, meh. They were fine, I made some friends, and I was glad they afforded me the ability to do some interesting things with my time when I wasn’t on the clock.

One of those cool things I’ve been able to do is travel. And I’ve done enough of it to learn that people in most countries view work as a way to pay for the things you need and want in the parts of your life that aren’t spent working.

Somewhere along the way our culture has become OBSESSED with the notion that your paid work must also be your one true passion. And ironically, while we have collectively deemed this the most worthy way to spend our working life, we also accuse each other of “selling out” when we accept compensation for doing what we love. Maybe it’s inevitable that we’ll attack those who have managed to achieve the dreams we have for ourselves, as a way of offloading the jealousy without having to acknowledge it; I don’t know. Regardless, this business of following your passion during your working hours has become the new golden standard.

Now, a disclaimer: If you have a job that feeds your soul as well as your bank account, hats off to you. I’m not saying we should AVOID doing this for a career. But, I do think it puts a lot of pressure on people who probably already have perfectly decent jobs. I think it might be harmful to insist it is the only route to happiness (as though Happiness is some sort of destination with only one correct route… be careful, stay left at the fork or you might inadvertently end up in Hell! And you can’t retrace your steps if you go the wrong way, it’s all or nothing!)

What I’ve learned from my own work experience is this: the only REALLY important thing is not to spend half your waking hours doing something you actively loathe, that conflicts with your core values and makes you feel like a miserable failure with nothing to offer the world. Don’t take that job, and if you have that job, find another. You can take any other job, because you don’t have to get all your joy and fulfillment from the thing you’re paid to do. And I am SO SICK of feeling like my job is not good enough because it’s not my “calling.”

I have several problems with this, really. For the sake of brevity, which I’m failing at miserably with this post, let’s go with bullet points:
  • This notion of having just ONE true passion is silly. You can be happy doing any number of different things. (Guess what? I like my job just fine!)
  • I have a feeling that my “calling,” if I have one, is to be a mother. But the time is not right for me to have a child yet. So does that mean I should just crawl into a hole and not work until I have a child to care for? Does my work in the meantime have no value?
  • Tying your earning power to the activity you are most passionate about can put a lot of pressure on the object of that passion. Now you’re not  just doing it out of love – you are required to, even if your creative reserves or ideas are dry.
  • Some passions can only be monetarily successful if you are an expert (i.e. acting, writing, singing, cooking). If you are passionate about something for which your enthusiasm exceeds your skill, this may not make for a very fulfilling career.
  • The argument for following your passion as a career is often that it takes up half your waking hours. Well, what about the other half? What’s wrong with devoting that time to your passions instead?

In the end, this is all a very self-indulgent argument. We worry about these things because we are privileged enough that we don’t need to worry about food, water or shelter, so we have time to think about our maximum potential beyond just staying alive. But have you ever noticed that with options comes a lot of stress? The happiest kids are the ones kicking around a soccer ball in the dirt in rural Africa, not the ones being shuttled from piano lessons to baseball practice to a math tutor.

Don’t put so much pressure on it. Just have fun with your life.