Monday, February 6, 2012

Life is Short, and you Only Get One Shot!

Finding your passion is not just about your career. It should be about your life.

No doubt that during your search for your passion you've discovered things that your passionate about, or have an interest in, that have nothing to do with finding the perfect career.

There is too much in life to enjoy, and a very short time to pack it all in. I've seen too many people wait until they retire to live their life, only to be hit by illness or tragedy.

Well, I for one am not going too wait anymore. I just booked my first overseas trip! My wife and I have always wanted to travel, so I booked a trip to London for our 18th anniversary.

What would you regret not doing in life? Life's short. Don't wait!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What are you going to do today?

Did you wake up with a plan? What are you going to do today to find or follow your passion?

You have to have a plan or you will go nowhere. I've written before on the importance of a plan, but I can't stress it enough. Plan to accomplish one to two things a day that will get you closer to your dream.

Each step doesn't have to be a profound leap. They can be small steps like reading an article, doing a bit of research, or making a new contact. You can still complete a journey by taking little steps. Just keep moving forward.

So I ask again....What are you going to do today?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You Have to Make a Plan to Pursue Your Passion

“Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.” – Donald Trump

When you’ve found your true passion or calling in life, you undoubtedly have a huge surge of excitement that helps drive you.  This reservoir of energy is what keeps you focused, causes you to dream, and pushes you to advance.  When you tap into your passion, you are willing to take the necessary risks to achieve success.  But be smart.  You would not leap without first looking.  The same goes when pursuing your passion.

Planning is crucial to a good beginning and sustained progress.  What exactly is it that you want to do?  Maybe you want to be a writer.  Perhaps you are an entrepreneur, and have a great idea for a business. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a chef.  It could be anything, because it is YOUR PASSION.

To begin your pursuit you have to be prepared.  You need to ask yourself a few questions to get yourself off the ground and thinking in the right direction.  Here’s a few to start with.

Have I clearly identified my goal?  You need to be as specific as possible.  You don’t need to say “I want my own business”, or “I want to be a chef.”  You need to be specific.  You need to say “I want to start my own Internet security consultant business”, or “I want to open my own Italian restaurant.”  You really need to zero in on your true passion and establish your long-term goals.

Do I need additional training to develop my skills more?  You want to make sure you have the knowledge and skills necessary to make your dreams a reality.  Your passion could be something you’ve always been interested in, or it could be something that you discovered recently.  Either way, you probably have a big hunger for knowledge.  Feed that hunger.  Read everything you can about the industry you are interested in.  Research as much as you can.  Take a course if you need to.  For example, if you want to be a chef, take some culinary classes to enhance your skills or if you enjoy building web pages, take a web design course.  Also, talk to someone that is already doing what you want to do.  Hone your skills and become an expert.  You can never learn too much.

What are the costs?  You need to assess your financial obligations for your new endeavor.  Do you have a reserve of cash you can tap into?  Will you start small and build cash as you go?  Do you need a loan from a bank?  Decide the best way to finance your passion.  Not only do you have to determine the financial costs, but you also need to assess the personal costs.  Pursuing your passion will occupy a large portion of your time.  If you have other obligations, such as a family, you have to realize that this will take a large portion of your free time.  You have to be willing to devote the time.  You may not have extra time to do other things like you did before.

There are many more questions you need to answer.  The main point here is to PLAN.  You will never be able to plan for every situation that might occur, but you need to go into this with eye’s open.  Set your goal, and map out the steps it will take you to get there.  Then get out there and do it!

Share the knowledge!  Post your comments, questions, and encouragement below.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

You Need Patience to Find Your Passion

Some people are very fortunate that they found their passion early in life. Other’s of us hit a few distractions along the way, and didn’t realize we’re missing something until much later. Remember one thing…it is never too late to begin the search for your passion.
As we begin the New Year, many people make resolutions. You know, things like “I’m going to get in shape this year”, or “I’m going to stop smoking”. Finding your passion should not be a New Year’s resolution, because we all know that most resolutions don’t make it past February. Instead, finding your passion is a commitment to yourself.
Each one of the steps I wrote about in my previous posts take time to complete. They don’t happen overnight, and most of the time you do not have some sort of epiphany or eureka moment. It can happen that way, but for most people it is a gradual understanding of yourself, and an in depth reflection of your life up until now. This requires patience.
Your future and your present are too important to rush into, only to become discouraged. And yes, you will have times when you get discouraged, but don’t give in to it. Commit to take an action or step every day to find your passion. As long as you are moving forward, you are not sitting still.
The Internet has created a great opportunity to develop a community of people with similar goals. Each one of us has something to offer. You may be able to help someone else reading this with their search. You never know. Feel free to share in comments.
What is your commitment to yourself?
What steps are you taking towards finding your passion?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Think like a child again!! Pursue your passion.

Remember when you were just a kid?  Nothing seemed impossible….there were no limits to your imagination.  You would come up with silly games to entertain yourself, or come up with wild dreams of what your life would be when you grew up.  A child’s imagination has no boundaries.  However, as we grow up, our schools and the adults in our lives begin to tell us we are being immature and to stop being childish.  We start to cover up who we really are, and we begin to establish boundaries in our thought process.  We began to change how we see things.  We may stop voicing our real opinion.  And the next thing you know, we have let our natural creativity wither to the point that we now think like everyone else.

One of the biggest problems I see is that our educational system does not value creativity or imagination.  Yes you do have the occasional exceptional teacher, but as a whole, they don’t. Mostly, they want to make sure you can pass the state required test so they receive an acceptable mark.  I was in one of my kid’s schools the other day and I was absolutely floored by the award the school so proudly hung in the main office.  It was an “Achievement Award for Adequate Yearly Progress.”  I had to do a double take.  They actually give out awards for adequate?  The award was not for “Outstanding” yearly progress, or “Superior” yearly progress.  It was for “Adequate.”  The dictionary defines adequate as barely sufficient or suitable.  I sat there and thought, “They are teaching my kid to be adequate?”  Why don’t they just put a banner in the hallway that says “Reach for Mediocrity!!”

You have to reclaim your imagination.  You have to resurrect your creativity.  You have to shake off the limiting perception of others and break down your barriers.  If you’ve been following along with the previous posts for pursuing your passion, you’ve already started to open your mind up again to other possibilities.  You actually have to give yourself permission to dream again.  Ignore the negative people.  Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing again.

  • Take time for yourself.
  • Remove yourself from your daily grind.
  • Turn off technology.
  • Go for a walk/run/bike ride.
  • Start a new hobby or revive an old one that you enjoyed.
  • Take a class (Art is always good).
  • Be willing to take a risk. New experiences can be energizing.
  • Look through the information you’ve collected about yourself so far and reflect.
  • If you have a young child, take time and play with him or her. Their imagination has no boundaries.

How are you regaining your imagination or discovering your passion? Other’s reading this may be having the same struggles you are having.  Share your comments on what is working for you, or if you are the struggling, share what has you stuck.  Surrounding yourself with like-minded, freethinking, positive people will help you open your own mind.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Do you trust your intuition? Discovering your passion by following your gut.

“You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs

Do you ever get those strong urges? You know the ones that you feel deep in your gut?  How good are you at listening to them?   Hopefully by now you know a lot more about yourself than you did when you began.  I know that I catalogued a great deal of information about myself throughout the search for my passion.  Some of it was quite eye opening.  One thing I noticed was that I was not very good about trusting myself, or listening to my intuition.  I was very good at over analyzing the situation and then rationalizing it away.  I liked to call it paralysis by analysis.  You spend so much time thinking about it, you never do it, or you just talk yourself out of it.

You know yourself better than you think you do.  If you take the time to just listen to your thoughts, you will find yourself drawn to certain things.  These urges are very important in the discovery and pursuit of your passion.  Don’t trivialize your own intuition.  And by all means, don’t let others discourage you or talk you out of it.  Remember what I said in the previous posts?  This is your life; don’t let others live it for you.  Here is another Steve Jobs quote that I read quite often.

“Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

You’ve probably guessed by now that I am a fan of Steve Jobs.  Anytime I need that extra bit of inspiration to help me regroup when following my passion, or deciding to take a leap of faith, I listen to his 2005 Stanford Commencement speech.

Trust yourself.  Listen to yourself.  Follow your intuition.  What you truly want to do is already inside you.  When you find it, you will know it.  There is an excitement that you feel.  Time seems to fly by when you are engrossed in your passion.  It is on your mind every day.  You will be making time each day for the pursuit of your dream.  It doesn’t drain your energy, it boosts it.  This feeling gives you the drive you need to succeed.  Remember, it is your passion, and your life, not anyone else’s. 
Take the time to listen to yourself:
  • Find a quiet place away from your everyday distractions (work, home, outside responsibilities).
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breathes.
  • Clear your mind of what happened earlier today, and what you have to do this evening.
  • What has your intuition been trying to tell you?
  • Now listen. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

If you are afraid to fail, you will never follow your passion

When you were growing up, you were taught many things.  You were taught how to read, how to write, how to do math, etc.   Did anyone ever teach you how to fail?  As a matter of fact, you were probably taught just the opposite.  We are all taught to avoid failure.  Failure is bad!  So now we find ourselves avoiding anything that involves risk, or at least, the risk of failure and embarassment.  Look around at what society is teaching kids today.  They are being taught that “everyone is a winner.”  How many times have you gone to a little league game and everyone gets a trophy just for playing.  That drives me crazy!  Kids need to learn how to lose (fail) so they can see that it is okay, and so they know what they need to do to improve.  We need to change people’s mindset when it comes to failure.  Failure is not bad.  Failure is good!  It is a great teacher, and it is nothing to be afraid of.  It just teaches us that we need to do things differently next time.  There is a lesson in every “failure.”

 Look back through history at any great inventor.  They never succeeded at everything they tried.  There are many things that did not go right.  One famous account is of Thomas Edison.  A reporter once asked Mr. Edison how it felt to have failed 10,000 times before he successfully invented the light bulb.  Edison replied “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”  Now that’s how we all should think!

If you can change your view of what failure is it will completely free you.  You will not be bound by the conventional thoughts of failure, and you will find yourself actually doing instead of dreaming.  You never fail if you try.  You just learn new lessons.  Every successful person will tell you that their success was preceded by a series of failures.  If you are afraid of failure, you more than likely have "fear of being embarrassed" on the fear exercise from the last post.

So how do you go about changing your mindset? 
  • Look back at everything you have collected so far from the previous posts. 
  • Examine your list of things you would regret not doing in your life.
  • Look at your fears and how you can overcome them.
  • Start small, plan appropriately, and take action. 
  • Remember, if it doesn’t work the first time, learn from it, modify your plan and try again. 

There is a great new web series by Morgan Spurlock dedicated to this subject called Failure Club.  The entire purpose of the series is for its participants to fail.  You can follow it by clicking here.   

Please share your thoughts in comments.  I am a big believer in sharing your own experiences or advice to help encourage others.