In modern society, particularly in the western world though the culture is undeniably influencing people from just about every country, we are offered two very contradictory perspectives on what we should be doing with our lives.
On the one hand, we are encouraged to pursue a lifestyle of “hustle.” Get in there, give it 110%, put in the hours, and you’ll reap the benefits. There’s no shame in doing it for the money, because it’s the money that will buy you the newest iPhone and the fancy sports car.
And then we are offered the completely opposite viewpoint when we are told to do what we love. “Don’t worry about the money,” they say. “Do what you love and the money will follow.” But of course it doesn’t. And this is also based on the false pretense that you should be chasing your passion in the first place. That’s how you set yourself up for disappointment. Instead, try one of these alternative perspectives on for measure.
Be Passionate About What You Chase
This was a lesson that Scott Adams learned as he bumbled his way through his varied professional career. The stereotype goes that the thing you should be passionate about has to be artistic or philosophical in some way. That your passion might be painting or music or woodwork.
But there are people who are equally passionate about law or finance or engineering. The actual passion itself doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you are passionate about it. And there’s something about that passion that might surprise you.
If you think that you are passionate about something but you don’t achieve any real level of success when you pursue it, you’re probably going to end up feeling defeated and deflated. You’ll lose your passion. On the flip side, if you go into something that you’re good at doing and you achieve some great success, suddenly you become more motivated. Success breeds passion.
This isn’t going to work in all cases, of course, but it really starts with the mindset that you want to be passionate about whatever it is that you are chasing. Think about the dog running after a frisbee or a tennis ball. The actual frisbee or tennis ball doesn’t matter. It’s the thrill of the chase. It’s the fact that the dog has ascribed a certain value to the activity and has consequently become very passionate about playing fetch with you.
Pick your tennis ball and pursue it with passion.
Explore Your Passions Instead
A big problem with the perspective that you should chase or pursue your passion is that it positions your passion as if it’s a destination. That you’re supposed to get to some point and then you can say that you’ve made it. That there is a defined end game and that’s when you can be done. But that is utterly the wrong way to go about it.
A much healthier approach is to tell yourself that you want to explore your passion rather than simply chase it. Think about from the perspective of visiting a foreign country that you’ve had on your bucket list for a number of years. The simple act of getting on a plane and landing in Venice, Italy is like chasing your passion. You get there and you’re done. It’s an accomplishment, but it feels rather empty.
But what if you decided that you wanted to explore Venice instead? Getting there is only the beginning. You’ve arrived, but you’re not done. You want to go and explore the intricately complex maze of streets and back alleys. You want to explore the various culinary and cultural opportunities that await you. With each passing day, you can dig deeper and deeper, unraveling more and more about the old city. Your passion grows as you gain a more comprehensive and complex understanding.
The act of exploration is both a means and an ends unto itself. You can apply this mindset to just about anything, from blogging to social media to Internet marketing. You start at the surface and then you peel away the layers and continue to learn and adapt. That’s the true joy of exploring your passion. That’s what will give your life meaning and a sense of ever-growing fulfillment.