You see it everywhere. Teens making out on sidewalks. Entrepreneurs feverishly typing in cafes. Artists forgetting to eat while they perfect their next piece. They’re all passionate about something — and they’re going for it. And it makes you wonder:
Why can’t I have that?
Well, you can.
Life can be passionate, but it can also be chaotic, confusing, and all-consuming.
You may have a boss who wants more work from you, a partner who wants more contributions from you, friends who want more time with you, a dog who wants more walks with you…the list goes on.
No wonder your passion about took a back seat!
But you’ve had enough now. You’re ready to bring passion back into your life. To have something that springs you out of bed each morning. To devote a part of your life to the thing that inspires, challenges, and fulfills you.
And you’re willing to do what ever it takes.
So here’s what it takes:
1. Get real with yourself.
Ask yourself, “What am I passionate about, and why?”
The answer(s) will help you identify your values. Those values will become your roots, and they’ll hold you down when the world tries to steer you away from your passion.
Does your passion simply excite you? Or is it the vehicle through which you intend to make lasting change? Is it designed to make others happy? Or will it help you finally prioritize your happiness? Is it a little of everything?
Write down the values underlying your passion. Write them in bold. And refer back to them whenever your passion project slides down your priority list.
2. Take it off the back-burner.
Your priority list might look like this:
- Must-Do’s: do what boss says, spend time with partner, feed pet, buy groceries…
- Might-Do’s: go to the gym, get a manicure, do laundry, spend time on passion project…
Your list might look very different. But people who put their passion on the back-burner have this in common: their passion project is in the “might-do” category.
It’s easy to say, “I just don’t have time right now. There are too many must-do’s. I can focus on what I’m passionate about later.”
But when you remember your passion project embodies the values you hold most dear? You’ll make time for that.
You’ll make it a “must-do.”
3. Share What You’re Passionate About.
It’s okay to share what you’re passionate about. In fact, those closest to you may prefer that you do so!
By sharing with them what excites you and how that may require a shift in priorities, they’ll likely be 1) happy for you and 2) more prepared for when you’re “less available” to do other things.
Reassure the people in your life that they remain a big priority; you just need to learn how to make room for your passion.
Such conversations will inspire and embolden you. You’ll realize you’ve taken your first real steps towards a passionate life. And you’ll have prepared the people you care about for what’s to come.
4. Don’t be a commitment-phobe.
So you told everyone about your passion, and your determination to pursue it. You’ve committed! Right?
Commitment is more than sharing what you’re passionate about. It’s choosing that passion, over and over again, even when times get tough. Even when you doubt you’re the “commitment type.”
Because anyone can commit. That means you can, too.
5. Choose the right teammates.
Pursuing your passion will require you to change how you think, act, and live.
Change isn’t always easy — even when you’re fully invested in the outcome.
That’s why it’s important to have the right people by your side. Or, at the very least, not the wrong ones.
The right people will not only cheer you on, but also hold you accountable.
They’ll have faith that you can do what you set out to do (if they don’t, read this).
It’s important to take charge of your dream, but it doesn’t hurt to have people on your team.
You will likely fall before you learn to consistently prioritize what you’re passionate about. You can pick yourself back up, but it’s far easier to when someone lends a hand.
6. Laugh at yourself.
Humans are fallible. They run into glass doors, say awkward things, and spill coffee on their shirts.
Similarly, you’ll make mistakes while you pursue your passion. You might quit a job for your dream industry, but choose the wrong company. You might go back to school and fail your first test. You might become a writer and write some crap pieces.
People might give you the side eye for slip-ups, but that’s about it. They’ll ultimately forgive you — even before you forgive yourself. Because they’ll forget.
Follow their lead. If you blunder while pursuing your passion, forgive yourself. “Forget” to the extent your mistake holds you back.
And if you’re the run-into-glass-door type, let yourself laugh! It’s a lot easier — and a lot more fun — than being self-critical. Embrace your humanity.
It’s okay to get knocked down, so long as you get up again.
7. Celebrate That You’re Passionate About Something.
There’s a lot to celebrate when you’re passionate about something:
- You’re excited to get out of bed each morning (yeah, excited).
- You’re driven to invest in your passion each day.
- You get to spend time on what matters to you.
- You’re challenging yourself.
- You’re putting yourself first sometimes.
- You’re prioritizing your happiness and sense of fulfillment.
- You’re experiencing “small wins” along the way.
- And more.
Turn on your favorite song and dance alone in your apartment. Or grab some wine and invite your girlfriends over. Or throw a bash like it’s your birthday.
Do whatever makes you feel triumphant. Because pursuing your passion is a great achievement, and you deserve to feel on top of the world.
8. Use your (early) mornings.
Wake up with the sun. Then get to “work.”
The first hour of sunlight in the day is called “the golden hour” — an ideal time for photographers to take photos.
It’s also ideal for most passion-seekers.
Most of the world is quiet during the golden hour. Use that hour to focus on what you’re passionate about, free from the influences or demands of others. Use it to reflect, strategize, or work.
Don’t impose high standards on yourself, at the start. Just get out of bed and know that one hour will be devoted to your passion. Even if that means you just sit at the kitchen table and think about it.
Prepare yourself for this hour the night before. Lay out your clothes by your bedside. Put coffee grinds in the coffee maker. Eliminate distractions. Make it as easy as possible to start your day before everyone else.
With repetition, you’ll form a habit. The hours will add up. You’ll find yourself more invested in your passion, and that will likely inspire you to invest more.
So make mornings work for you. If your schedule forbids it, find your golden hour. Show up until it’s a habit you don’t want to break.
9. Say no.
Thankfully, most people won’t interrupt you during the golden hour. But they’ll come find you later — sometimes, when you’re preoccupied with your passion.
At times like this, you’ll have to turn people away. You’ll have to say “no.”
It’s not fun to do, but it’s worth the discomfort. As Greg McKeown said in “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less:”
“[S]aying no often requires trading popularity for respect. When you say no, there is usually a short-term impact on the relationship. After all, when someone asks for something and doesn’t get it, his or her immediate reaction may be annoyance or disappointment or even anger . . . The potential upside is . . . when the initial annoyance or disappointment or anger wears off, the respect kicks in. When we push back effectively, it shows people that our time is highly valuable.”
Further, saying “no” will remind you that your time is valuable. That’s just as important.
10. Support dreams that aren’t yours.
Your passion is important to you. Not only because it aligns with your values, but also because it excites, challenges, and fulfills you.
It means a lot when someone supports your dream. Even if they don’t completely understand it.
So return the favor.
Passion makes the world brighter. Pursuing what you’re passionate about helps. But if you support others pursuing their passions, too? You’ll light up the world.
11. Become the master.
Chances are, people share your passion. And some have pursued it before you.
So learn from them! Learn what approaches they took. What inspired them. What kept them motivated after setbacks. What helped them succeed.
Build upon your knowledge as you go. But remember to add your own flair. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table.
A true master of the craft not only knows the fundamentals, but also capitalizes on her strengths. So take advantage of yours.
12. Keep tabs on yourself.
Plan ahead. Hold yourself accountable. Check in with yourself to ensure you’re consistently moving toward your goal: a life of passion.
One way to do this is by keeping a journal. Each night, write down what you did to pursue your passion that day.
How does it stack up to what you did yesterday? Are you doing enough each day to achieve your goal? How long will it take, at the rate you’re going, to feel like you’ve finally made your passion a regular part of your life?
Be honest with yourself. Adjust your approach where you fall short. Keep track of your level of commitment so you can ensure you stay fully committed.
13. Pump yourself up.
Each day is another chance to invest in a life you love. That’s awesome!
So get pumped about it. Before you set out to pursue what you’re passionate about, blast a song that energizes you. Tell yourself you’re awesome, because you are. Imagine how great you’ll feel when you achieve your goal.
Paint a picture of what success looks like to you. And know you’re going to make it your reality.
Self-doubt is a downer. Confidence is an upper. Focus on how excited you are to live a passionate life — and how capable you are of living it — and the confidence will come.
14. Love who you are and who you’re becoming.
The more you invest in the future, the more you may want to dismiss the present. You might think, “I’m not going to be this person forever.”
But you will be. You’re just evolving.
Even when you reach a point where you’re filled with self-love, passion, and fulfillment, you’ll still be who you are now. You’ll just have a better outlook.
Pursuing a “better” you does not mean who you are now is “bad.” Far from it. First, “bad” is an oversimplification. Second, if people could even be characterized as “bad,” you wouldn’t be; “bad” people don’t seek “better.”
Embrace who you are, faults and all. Because you’ll still have them when you become who you want to be.
15. Recognize how lucky you are.
It takes courage to change your life — not luck. But having the freedom to change it? There’s a little luck involved.
Not everyone is born into a society where freedom is in high supply. To some, freedom is an abstract ideal — not something to be exercised.
Freedom shouldn’t be a privilege. It should be a given. Tragically, it’s not given to everyone.
So use your gift wisely. Every time you feel afraid to take a step forward, or fight for your dream, remember how lucky you are. You have a choice.
Thankfulness breeds courage. So use it to achieve your dreams. Show the world why freedom should be given to everyone.
Passion Is Right up Ahead
Life is like a great highway; passion is one of the exits.
You have your map now, and you’re ready to get to Point B. You’re ready to rediscover what makes you feel truly alive.
But man, is that highway crowded. Passion isn’t the only exit, and everyone’s headed to their own Point Bs.
Some people will cut you off. Some will give you the finger. Some will roll down their windows, releasing your favorite song into the open air, and ask you to sing along.
It’s okay to sing along, here and there. Heck, give the finger too, if you must. But don’t get too distracted.
Remember the 15 tips above, and you’ll beat the traffic. Before you know it, you’ll reach your exit.