My wife is away for the weekend, giving me some extra time to stare at the wall at night when I come home from work…just kidding. In fact, I’ve been working. Something I haven’t mentioned yet is that while I was on my blogging hiatus, I got this SWEET opportunity to run a couple of blogs for a company that I’ve been writing for since November. One is their German blog and the other is an instablog on Seeking Alpha, both of which I’m basically building from the ground up–and I’m making more now on the side than I thought I would at this point in the year. I’m learning a lot and am really enjoying it.
But anyway, after I finished my writing for the evening, I hopped on over to one of my favorite personal finance blogs, Club Thrifty. It has been ages since I’ve read any of Holly’s posts, and I’ve definitely missed them (I also owe Holly a lot since she helped me overcome any fears I had about taking the aforementioned writing job back when I first started–so thanks mucho!).
As I was scrolling through her most recent posts, I came across this one about finding your passion, and I realized I won’t be able to go to sleep tonight until I write about it. The difference between Holly and me is that, while she doesn’t feel like she really has any passions at the moment, I feel like I have too many passions. Among them are (in no particular order):
- Humanitarian Aid
- Personal Finance
- Foooood (Actually, if I just group all food into one, that decreases the number of passions significantly)
- Health & Nutrition (don’t let the belly fool you)
- Sherlock (this obsession is in direct response to Holly’s obsession of Game of Thrones)
- and the list goes on…
I want to write books–novels, faith-based, self-help, etc. I want to start my own non-profit organization, much like the one I was privileged to work with when first introduced to the NGO sector. I want to travel the world. I want to teach people that education is so much more than what our education system has to offer. I want to learn languages and absorb their cultures.
And when I think about all of these things while sitting in my tiny apartment, coming up on 28 years old and feeling like we’re like the Wright brothers struggling to get off the ground in our first attempts at flight, I have to remind myself of this:
A passion without patience isn’t a passion at all
It’s easy to look around you and see other people living their dreams and get caught up in the envy and impatience of it all. Some people may begin to think that there’s something wrong with you. Or at least that what YOU think they think about you. But Tim Ferriss didn’t switch to a 4-hour work week in a day. It took years of work, failure and disappointment before Steve Jobs finally reached the pinnacle that he had first envisioned.
If you’re passionate about something, it’s worth waiting for. It’s like that time I fell in love with this girl I barely even knew. As I got to know her, every time we started to get close to something more than friends, she would shut me down with things like, “I think you’re attractive but I’m not attracted to you”, “You’re not confident enough”, and “You’re too short”. But something inside me felt like she was too special to give up on. Unlike past crushes or whatever you call them when you’re no longer in high school, I felt the need for patience and persistence. It was hard work sometimes and I felt extremely vulnerable to getting my heart stomped over and over again. But, four and a half years later, I have the sacred privilege of calling that girl my wife.
Complacence is a dagger
Whether you’re like Holly and feel passionless, or like me and feel like you’re never going to be able to live all of your passions fully, the only thing that will cause you regret in the end is complacence.
I read once that a job with benefits is poisonous to someone who is an entrepreneur at heart. After all, how difficult is it to give up 401(k) matches and subsidized health insurance? There’s a certain measure of safety and stability there that is completely absent when you go off to do your own thing. How many born entrepreneurs have let their dreams die and their passions dwindle at the risk of losing that safety net?
And what if you don’t know what you want to do? How easy would it be to just maintain the status quo? To seek the path of least resistance? It’s easy to just sit back and dedicate your life to your favorite television shows, video games, or whatever else we do to waste time. Complacency will make you feel comfortable with where you are, but later down the road you could be haunted with “what ifs”.
Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been.’ – John Greenleaf Whittier
Get to know yourself
After spending a few months away from this blog and spending more time working on some personal thing, I’ve learned that I really didn’t know a lot about myself before. I thought I did, but I was wrong. I find it so interesting that there are thousands of self-help books and articles out there that give you hundreds of tips on how to be successful, or all the habits you need to have if you ever want to come within a sniffing distance of being a millionaire.
But the most important thing you need to do before you do any of that is to understand yourself. It requires a lot of honesty to effectively evaluate your personality, strengths, weaknesses, habits, flaws, insecurities and passions. But when you truly know yourself, that’s when you can really start to leverage your strengths. How do you think David was able to conquer Goliath? He was no match for him physically, but he succeeded because he knew himself well enough that he knew how to succeed.
Over time, you’ll come to realize that some things you thought were passions aren’t important enough for you to actively pursue. There may be things you didn’t realize your passionate about. As you go through the process, though, it will be interesting for you to see things you might have been missing all along.
What have you learned as you’ve pursued your passions? Do you feel like you don’t have any passions?