3 Priceless Lessons Pursuing My Passion Has Taught Me
#1 — Shoot for down the street, not the stars.
Leaving the bubble of my university was a scary experience. At first, it filled me with excitement. No more coursework!
Then reality kicked in.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and ended up applying for an endless stream of marketing roles I knew I didn’t want. My heart was never in it.
By Christmas time last year, I was in a rut. My life had no purpose and no process to keep me going.
I knew I liked writing, but I initially thought it was oversaturated and impossible to make a success from.
Well, here I am. I decided to do it, and I’ve become a top writer, regularly curated and well on the way (I believe) to success. Not that it has been easy, and I’ve faced some harsh realities:
- I was rejected so many times.
- I am still learning — every single day.
- I still get rejected plenty of times.
- It often isn’t rewarding. I spend a lot of time waiting for rejection emails.
Although my career is only in its fledgeling stages, I am still grateful to be in a position where I don’t have to be overly concerned with bills and finances and have a reliable support network that supports what I’m doing.
No one I know has pursued their passion, that I know of anyway. So it is unchartered waters for me. I have, however, learned plenty of valuable lessons.
Here are the three that stand out most.
Shoot for down the street, not the stars
A mere 13% of surveyed workers feel engaged at work, feeling they have no real directive.
To be honest, I didn’t think doing something I wanted to do even remotely possible. I assumed that it was merely reaching for the stars, and if it did happen, it would be an accident.
The thing is, everyone has got to start somewhere, right? There was a time when Steven King hadn’t written his first book, and Mohammed Ali hadn’t thrown a single punch.
“You don’t need to see the whole staircase, just the first step.”
For far too long, I was looking at the achievements of other writers and making that my goal. Sure, it provided initial motivation, but the slower progress got, the more those goals became demotivators.
I wasn’t going to get 300,000 views within my first four months of writing. I could, however, focus on what I can control. I can write daily, publish frequently and keep on progressing.
Besides, research has shown the downfall in setting unattainable, lofty goals.
Right now, I don’t have thousands of followers or 300,000 views. Instead, I have a focus on what I need to do, one street at a time.
You need to invest in your progression
The best piece of advice I have received?
“Invest in yourself.”
A former colleague of mine told me this. I was envious of his successful fitness business and wanted a viable project I cared about for my own. He said that to me one day, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
To be honest, it’s something I had never taken seriously before. Partly because I never liked spending money, instead preferring to stick it in my bank account and watch the numbers gradually rise.
Sure, it’s great to see your savings grow, but if you’re going to use your money, it might as well be for something worthwhile. Specifically, invest in something that will benefit you every single day.
For example, to get my writing career going, I needed to produce a lot of content. I didn’t understand the platform, so I invested in a writing course. It gave me a huge headstart, meaning I didn’t need to figure out everything by myself.
Then, I realised it’s not just the educational side that needed addressing. If you’re going to write a lot of content, you need a healthy environment to do it from. So, I promptly bought a desk and office chair, giving my back it’s long-awaited lumbar support. I couldn’t tell you specifically by how much, but it boosted my productivity a lot.
From all of this, I learned that yes, it might be scary to part with your hard-earned pennies, but if you invest them, you’ll be refunded ten-fold in the future.
Besides, when you’re investing in pursuing your passion, the course, laptop or new journal you buy will bring you enjoyment. Purchasing the Medium course enabled me to quickly get a foothold on the platform so I could do what I enjoy most.
Don’t focus on results and reward yourself
I don’t profess to be a writing veteran. Even so, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my short career. One of them was my constant desire to click on the stats page.
Every time I posted, I couldn’t resist. Despite having 60 followers, not getting curated and checking a mere two hours after publishing, I’d still get slightly disappointed if I didn’t see results.
Most businesses need between 18 and 24 months to see a profit, and you have a 25% chance of failing in the first year. So looking at your performance, particularly in your passion project’s infancy, is going to do more harm than good.
For my second month, I made a vow to not look at my stats until the end of the month. It was difficult at first but extremely rewarding. I was able to see what worked and what didn’t and reward myself for the successes.
Now, I can compare the data and track my growth more efficiently than if I were to look every five minutes. Because writing is my passion, it was difficult to pull myself away from heavy self-criticism. Now that I have some self-discipline, however, I can focus on doing what I love.
Rewarding myself also felt a bit futile, and sometimes still does. Although it’s vital to not rest on your laurels, patting yourself on the back can make you feel energised and cared for, which is particularly important when pursuing a passion. You need self-drive if you’re going to stand out.
Pursuing a passion is a dangerous and insecure venture, but that is what makes it so exciting.
As it is something you are no doubt incredibly passionate about, it can be difficult not to view every campaign as a life or death scenario. Remind yourself to take a step back, and remember that you’re doing something that matters to you, which is more than most can say.
The above lessons are the most important, I think, to keep in mind if you’re thinking about pursuing a passion, but don’t let them discourage you.
It’s a brave thing to do, and I am beyond glad I’ve taken the plunge. Remember, shoot for what is within your grasp, invest in your progression and don’t go crazy if things aren’t going as well as you’d hoped.