What excites you?

by Tobias van Schneider
first appeared
on my private email list.

One of the phrases I heard the most in the recent years is “Follow your passion”.

I used to say it too, when friends asked me about how they could find their dream job I would say: “Well it’s easy, just follow your passion”.

It’s such an easy thing to say. When you found something you love and others ask you how they can find it too, you just say “Follow your passion” and think it’s great advice.

But really, its bullshit. Follow your passion doesn’t mean anything. Because what if I don’t have a passion yet? I mean what is my passion? Do I need to have one? Is finding your passion a one way street?

Telling someone to “Follow their passion” essentially is just a different way of saying “Well I don’t know, it’s your problem lol”.

Maybe because “passion” is such a loaded term I dislike it so much.

For the last few years I’ve been trying to ask myself better questions. I stopped searching for my passion and just starting doing things I like. It’s easy to do things you like, because you just do them.

As a kid I never thought deeply about my passions. I started skateboarding because it was fun, and then I stopped it because it wasn’t fun anymore. I wasn’t thinking much about my decision, I just did the things I enjoyed doing. I did the things that excited me.

But then somewhere along the way I grew up, I became an adult and life became pretty f*cking serious. Now it was all about finding my passion, especially one that pays my monthly bills. (and that even sounds like a luxury to most)

After thinking about this a lot the last few years I tried to come up with something better than “Follow your passion”.

Today I ask myself a new question: What excites me? What excites you? Personally, I find this question way easier to answer than trying to nail down my one and only passion.

I recently watched this documentary about Paul Newman and his life as actor and race car driver. Paul Newman was already an established actor in the movie industry when he agreed to a role in a new racing movie called “Winning” in 1968.

He took racing lessons for the first time in his life and it went straight to his heart. He was excited. So excited that he starting racing professionally.

He was so excited that he couldn’t think of anything else anymore. He forced movie producers to re-schedule entire movie productions because racing came first for him. Paul was knowingly putting his current acting career at risk.

Paul Newman went on to win countless races and even built his own racing team while trying to juggle his acting career at the same time. Still, you could always see that racing came first to him. It was what excited him the most.

Arnold Schwarzenegger grew up in a small village in Austria as a normal middle class family boy. In his spare time he had fun working out with his friends by a lake close to his house.

His excitement for working out led him to become one of the worlds most famous body builders. But at the height of his bodybuilding career, Arnold changed his mind to pursue a career in acting.

The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.
 — Arnold Schwarzenegger

Fast forward: At the height of his acting career (which you can actually say he had two, one for action, one for comedy) he changed his mind again to pursue politics, and ultimately become governor of California.

You can say what you want about Arnold, but being at the top of three completely different industries only shows how much Arnold believed in doing what excites him.

Of course these are rare and over the top examples, but those are the ones that inspire me to always keep asking: What excites me?

And next time you meet someone new, instead of asking them what they do for a living, or what their life plans are, ask them what excites them. You will be surprised how different the answer will be to what you usually get in return.

But first, what excites you? Let me know on Twitter!

Have a fantastic week,
Tobias

PS: I usually send out these articles via my personal email list right here. You can sign up anytime, I won’t spam, promise.

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Tobias is a Designer & Maker + Co-Founder of Semplice, a new portfolio platform for designers. Also host of the show NTMY — Previously Art Director & Design Lead at Spotify & Board of Directors AIGA New York.