The Profound Lessons I Learned By Obsessively Following My Passion
The unbelievably tangible steps you can take to uncovering your life’s purpose.
I’ve had a lot of up’s and down’s in my life.
As far as the up’s go:
- I’ve met many of my heroes in life- Joe Rogan and Dave Chappell
- I’ve been able to write the articles I love to write and even have been able to supplement some of my income off selling my first ebook.
- I have a great girlfriend who treats me well and encourages me to work my ass off (in a good way of course).
- I have an amazing and supportive family that keeps me inspired to follow my dreams.
- I am in the best physical and mental shape of my life thanks to my change in diet (lifestyle) and the training with my boxing trainer.
As for the bad’s:
- I have been fired from a job I once loved.
- I have been cheated on and left by lovers multiple times.
- I have been homeless.
- I have slept on friends’ floors and on friends’ couches.
- I have had moments where I wasn’t sure if I could necessarily pay rent.
- I’ve been 30 pounds overweight, smoked cigarettes regularly and drank myself to sleep for months at a time.
For much of my adult life, I have had no idea what I was doing. I was experimenting with different interests. I was falling on my face when learning a new facet of life. I was making mistakes over and over that perhaps set me back from a certain level of “success.”
About two weeks ago, I sent out an email to my subscriber list.
I was curious what my followers have been working on. I wanted to know what pain-points and struggles they have been experiencing.
- If they were working on a blog or a project, what obstacles were in front of them?
- If they were working on their physical health, what challenges were in front of them?
- If they were working on their mental health, what demons were staring back at them?
I got an email back from one of my followers who sent me something that got me thinking.
His challenge is profound. After reading the email response, all I could do was sit back in my chair and think for a moment in silence. Below is a snippet from our email exchange (hopefully he doesn’t kill me for this…)
“…Reading influencers like you I glean that the one thing most important is to follow your passions (goals) and then let hunger take over. This is followed with content on how to achieve your goals, things you are passionate about.
The challenge I face is that I am happy, content, peaceful, share a loving relationship with my wife, we travel and enjoy together… and I am unable to find my passion or goal. I realize I don’t have those big dreams, I was always a simple little fella lacking in ambition. I feel sometimes, after premature retirement, that I am enjoying something close to Nirvana, a simple life of joy, especially when I see everyone around stressed and struggling and in genuine pain. So how do I find my passion? Currently I am simply faking it and getting a lot of exercise to stay healthy and happy…”
I thought about that question for over a week before writing this article. I think even in breaking it down, I am still going to ruminate on how to fully find your passion and it will take a lifetime to fully come to a distilled answer.
In breaking this question down, I am going to speak a lot through my own experience in finding my passion — writing about, conversing with, learning from, and teaching people about how to better their lives and be the architect for a designed life that you love and that grandly inspires you.
After each section, you are going to see Action Points you can take in applying tangible steps in your life to uncover your potential passions.
Take note of your interests.
“A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.”
— Napoleon Bonaparte
This may sound cliche or perhaps too simplistic, however, I truly believe this is the foundation in discovering your passion in life.
I was trying to dissect this question with my roommate and best friend. We talk a lot about life and critical think about The Hero’s Journey and how we can reflect it on to our own lives. We have known each other for years.
He told me about the smallest inclinations of interest and recalled roughly 6 years ago when we were roommates in Boston. I would spend all my weekends at the local Barnes & Noble store and use it as my personal library. I would go there for a few hours and just read. I wouldn’t buy the book, I would just return it to the shelf when I was done and write a note about what page I left off with (hell, times were tight back then. I couldn’t afford the luxury of even $15 to purchase a book).
I didn’t think too much of what I was doing back then.
I also bought a personal journal from that Barnes & Noble. I remember my first entry was on Easter Sunday of 2013. I reflected on the thoughts in my head. Again, not thinking much of it all.
I found it enjoyable to simply read and write.
To me, reading is like an intimate conversation over coffee in solitude with some of the greatest minds our world has ever seen.
I loved this past time.
As time rolled on, I began to experiment with different things. I got a job and then was fired, I took improv classes, I met new people and life started to take hold. Whenever things got tough, I would open up a new book to become inspired.
It started to become very clear that I wanted to join this community — the community of writers, thinkers, doers and creators. Over the years, this started to become my passion.
At the most granular level of your behaviors, how do you like spending your time?
I have a friend whose passion is riding and racing on bicycles. I have a friend who loves buying thrift clothing, altering it and flipping it for a profit. My best friend loves having deep conversations with people and finding out what drives them.
There is no wrong answer here.
Write down on a piece of paper what your interests are.
Don’t censor yourself with this step — if something is coming across your mind, you probably enjoy on some level the activity.
Write down about 10–15 things.
After you get a fresh list, start to rate which ones you enjoy most from the least. Give a “1” to the activity you think you most enjoy participating in.
Post this list to your bedroom wall or perhaps your refrigerator.
Over the next week, whenever you engage in one of the activities, put a tally mark next to the activity on the sheet.
We are a product of the behaviors and decisions we make through the day. You will see where your interests are taking you with this activity.
Take one step back to take two steps forward
“You have to fight to reach your dream. You have to sacrifice and work hard for it.”
— Lionel Messi
When I first graduated from college I abandoned my interests for the allure of the dollar.
After getting my business degree, I took my first job offer working for a company that was just past start-up phase and began making money hand over fist.
I was selling a product that I didn’t believe in for people that didn’t really care about me at all.
I was making the most money in my team and was making that sale regardless if it could truly solve the client’s problem — I really just cared if it solved my problem: increasing that never ending number in my checking account.
Looking back now, it’s funny how blind I was to it all.
My priorities were all out of whack.
I was pursing what was expedient over what was meaningful.
It eventually caught up with me and I was suddenly fired from this job. I say “suddenly” because it happened so quickly, however, the writing was on the walls. I wasn’t performing as well as I could because I didn’t believe in the work and it finally caught up with me.
After I was fired, I found a job waiting tables. I was working for a fine-dining establishment in Cambridge, Ma. I fell in love with food and wine. I reconnected with people. I fought the stigma of being a server rather than working and furthering my career.
The joke — this sacrifice was bringing back closer to my passion. Working in a restaurant, meeting interesting people and discovering interesting food brought me back closer to who I am as a person. Sure it’s not writing life-changing books but it’s better than selling a product I could give two shits about. It also opened up more liberties with my scheduling so I could read more and write more.
What short-term sacrifice can you make now that will open up more resources for you to pursue what is meaningful?
In his book The 4-Hour Work Week Tim Ferriss illustrates opportunity cost when it comes to salary and making money over a given period of time. If you are making $100k over a year and it takes you 80 hours a week to make that, you have a similar purchasing power over the time worked if you made $50k over 40 hours a week.
Just because you are making $100k doesn’t mean you are fully rich or well off or even “successful.” In what ways are you killing yourself and wasting your precious time in making that money?
This may be one of the scarier actions to take in opening up your life to designing and then realizing your passion and how you can use that to catalyze a living, however I believe it is paramount.
- Are you able to subsidize some of your monthly expenses with becoming a ride-share driver?
- Can you take up one or two shifts waiting tables on the weekend to help build your nest egg?
- Can you freelance some of your talents on sites such as Fiverr or Etsy?
If you really want to uncover and build your passion, you are going to need to sacrifice what is easy now with what is meaningful later on.
Reconstruction of your community and surroundings
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
― Jim Rohn
I remember exactly what my life was like before I came back to listening to and following the voice in my head.
- I was smoking cigarettes.
- I was working at a job I hated.
- I was dating and sleeping with people I didn’t care about.
- I was “friends” with people I didn’t even like.
- I was drinking myself to sleep.
- I was stressed out.
- I was aimless.
All of this was due to the way I constructed my surroundings.
How can you hear the passion calling out from your soul if there is too much other noise drowning it out?
Every morning, before you open the door to your bedroom and expose yourself to the world around you, you have that voice in your head — the one that is screaming at you to follow it.
If you are waking up in a fog because you drank the night before, you won’t hear it.
If you are waking up next to someone you don’t care about, you won’t be able to hear it.
If you’re eating shit food your brain will be foggy and you won’t hear it.
If you have people in your life always clawing at you to help them and have you give them things, you won’t hear it.
Listening to that voice takes a firm stillness in your mind. It takes clarity and astute focus. The rigmarole of the outside world is generally too loud and will silence your passions.
Take another piece of paper and fill out the names of 10 closest people you have in your life — I mean “close” in terms of depth of relationship, not proximity.
After you’ve filled out this list, draw two more columns to the right of the names. In one column put “positives of this person” in the next column put “negatives of this person” then write out what you feel the person gives you in your live in both a positive and negative light.
While this exercise may be extremely difficult, it can be positively eye-opening.
After taking note of the two columns you will begin to see a clear picture of what individuals are contributing positively in your life and who may be holding you back.
As hard as it may be, distancing yourself from the negative people will help silence the static noise around you and allow you to focus on fostering your potential passion.
You can do this with your surroundings as well:
- What rooms in your apartment/house are affecting your moods positively/negatively?
- What about your job helps your progress and what holds you back?
- What foods do you feel diminish your energy levels and what foods are helping fuel your mind and body positively through the day?
While so much of the work you are going to put into developing your passion comes from the internal forces of your mind and soul, the external stimuli plays a key role as well — make sure you control the external as much as you properly can.
Finding your passion may be extremely difficult at times.
Perhaps you are chasing the wrong “carrot” in your life. Maybe you haven’t critically thought about how much better your life can be if you do follow that voice that is calling to you. It’s possible you’re even terrified to tell the world that this specific activity is what makes you happy.
Regardless of the reason, at times you may feel hopeless.
In my experience, I have found there are key facets of my life that need to be considered and transformed in order to develop and then catalyze my passion.
Take inventory of your interests:
If I like doing something — it’s probably for a good reason.
I shouldn’t silence what brings me joy just because it doesn’t pay well or perhaps society thinks I’m stupid for liking it (haters gonna hate).
If I don’t know what I necessarily like doing, take note of what you do during the day and compound that over the weeks and over the months. You will start to see what behaviors you engage in and make up the majority of your time.
Sacrifice the immediate lust for the delayed gratification:
Sometimes you need to sacrifice the dollars for what makes you happier.
If you are at a job and you either repeat to yourself or post on social media the mantra, “I hate Mondays” you probably have to reevaluate what you’re doing with your job.
Money is measured in numbers — numbers never end. Joy and fulfillment can be felt and experienced — following your passions can help you experience said joys.
- Maybe you need to leave your job and take a step back financially that can open up time resources in following your interests.
- It’s possible you’ll need to take a job that isn’t as glorious as the traditional career path jobs.
- You may even need to sacrifice the play on the weekends for extra work.
In the end, it will be worth it.
Optimize your community and surroundings:
You are the average of your surroundings as well as the people you let into your life.
These people will either help you and aid in fostering your passions or they will work against you in the effort (a person being indifferent to your life and passions is working against you).
- Are you surrounding yourself with optimizing food?
- Are you consuming optimizing content?
- Are you optimizing your sleep?
- Are you optimizing your conversations?
The sum of all of the above culminates into a formula to help bring out your passions.
So what have you been working on?
What are your passions if you have been able to actualize it?
I would love to start a discussion about this and flush out any ideas I’m dead wrong on or perhaps overlooked.
👋🏻Hey there — I’m Jon
And I'm on a mission…
To help 1 million people become their own boss. If this sounds like you — you must know how to use your passion and blend that with what people want. Join 1,300 other people and get my FREE 6 day “Entre-Blogging” Course, you’ll learn the building blocks of how to financially actualize your passion.
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