How can I hold on to my passion
Why it is not always enough to follow your passion
Perhaps you are one of those people who knew exactly what they wanted to achieve in their lives as a child - from the first time you put on ballet shoes or scored the winning goal in a game on your youth team. Or maybe you are still looking for what you want to do when you have "grown up" - even though you crossed the threshold of adulthood years ago.
Regardless of whether you are already working towards your goals or are still looking for “your thing”, it can hardly be denied that today we live in a society in which “following one's passion” is a central aspect. It almost seems as if everything in our culture is geared towards helping us to discover our true "purpose" in life. And if you fail to develop your true passion, for whatever reason, you are doomed to an unfulfilled - and ultimately unsuccessful - life.
But the advice to just "follow your passion" is rather vague. What exactly is passion or passion? How do you know that you've found your own? And what do you do when you can get excited about more than one thing? Do you then have to choose one and hope for the best?
And then there's the part that comes after that. Is Success Guaranteed? And if your own passion does not lead to success, does that mean that you have failed? Or does it just mean it's time to tap into a new passion?
There is a lot to consider, and the truth is that if you pursue your passion, you can get into pretty rough waters - and there are bound to be some bumps and unexpected twists along the way.
Passion isn't a guarantee of success, but an understanding of the relationship between the two can help navigate the uncertain journey - and discover new things about yourself, your passions, and the true meaning of success as you go.
What is passion and how do you find it?
Some define passion as a “strong and barely controllable emotion”. It's the overwhelming feeling of being determined to do something - regardless of whether it's creating wedding dresses like Vera Wang that brides just feel beautiful in, or putting a smile on people's faces like Ellen DeGeneres (often through their cool dance moves) or throwing some of the best baskets ever like Stephen Curry.
Passion is a universal experience - but the way in which you discover your true passion varies from person to person.
According to Eat, Pray, Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert, there are two types of people in this world: Jackhammers and Hummingbirds. And the way in which they find, experience and embody their passion differs significantly from one another.
Jackhammers are people with a single passion that they pursue single-mindedly. Once jackhammers find their passion, they tend to hold onto it through good times and bad. Usually they succumb to their passion early in life and devote every free hour to it (for example, the football player who spent countless hours on the football field as a child after school - and still today spends several hours a day training outside of the season) .
Hummingbirds, on the other hand, flit back and forth between diverse life experiences from interest to interest. Hummingbirds are the kind of people who work on Wall Street for a few years and then write a book, only to decide to take part in triathlons in the future, before finally opening their own café with cocoa specialties at the foot of a ski area (side note: hummingbirds are excellent guests at dinner parties).
There is no right or wrong way to discover your own passion. But understanding what group you belong to can help you find a way to pursue your passion in a way that is true to yourself.
The recipe for success consists of more ingredients than just passion
But let's stay realistic: To be successful, you need a lot more than just discovering your own passion. "Passion drives us to do the things we really want ... but passion isn't everything," said composer, sound designer and two-time TEDx speaker Akash Thakkar.
Commitment, talent and perseverance are also hugely important factors. You will never become a successful musician if you don't learn an instrument and don't practice every day. And if you lack even the slightest eye-hand coordination, the chances of becoming a basketball star are pretty slim. No matter how much passion, dedication and talent you bring, you also have to be willing to work every day to achieve your goal.
You have to have the ability to keep going when the going gets tough - because no matter how passionate you are, the path gets a little bumpy at some point. "We feel the urge to do something, but as soon as our brain tells us, 'It's hard," we tend to give up, "said Thakkar. "Then we may get the feeling that we were wrong about our passion and think 'This is probably not for me.'" Just because you have developed a passion for something doesn't mean that everything else will come by itself .
When should you continue and when should you throw in the towel?
So there are “crises” or times when your own passion feels more like a chore than something you are passionate about.
“We will all have moments when it is difficult for us to follow our passion [when] the shining light at the other end of the process begins to fade. Top performers… overcome these 'crises' even if they don't enjoy it, ”explained Thakkar. "But most people just stop when they have a setback."
And with good reason. “It's like life is designed to make you stop. There are always new temptations, financial considerations, the realities of everyday life ... ”said Thakkar. "But it's worth bottoming out and you stand out from the competition on the other side."
Getting through a crisis may not be easy, but it's worth it. Setbacks are temporary; once you have overcome it, you can rediscover your passion on the other side - and success is never far away.
However, you also have to recognize the situations in which your own passion just doesn't work - the moments in which you hit a dead end.
"You have reached a dead end when there are no more opportunities for further development," said Thakkar. When your passion comes to an end, there is nothing left to pursue and the heart tells you to go in a different direction. And what's the best thing to do for yourself when you hit a dead end? Give up.
Yes, exactly: give up!
Giving up has a bad reputation, but sometimes it's the best move you can make. “It's about giving up at the right time for the right reason. It makes us feel better and we can start doing the things that are important to us, ”explained Thakkar.
This means that if you are experiencing a crisis phase while pursuing your passion, the best way to work your way through it. If, on the other hand, you have reached a dead end, it is best to turn away from your project, sort yourself again and look for another path to success. However, crises and dead ends can look pretty similar, so how can you tell the difference?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Is my desire to give up a result of short-term stress or the fact that the passion I am pursuing cannot be sustained over the long term?
Can I still get excited about what I do? Am I excited to continue learning and growing in this area? Am I excited to see what's next?
Does the thought of giving up panic or does it give me peace of mind?
Am I just doing all of this for the recognition I hope it will give me? Would I be happy if I was never recognized for my efforts?
Is there any progress on this path?
What progress have I made so far? Do I see further progress for myself in the future?
Asking yourself these questions (and coming up with clear answers) is important in deciding whether the frustration you are experiencing is just a stumbling block on the way to success - or whether it is an indicator that you are going in the wrong direction And it's time to take a different path.
There is much more to being successful than just “following your own passion”. It's about having an understanding of how to find your passion, which passions are worth pursuing, when to face challenges, and when to throw in the towel.
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