“I want to know, is “pursuing your passion” for everyone? How do I know if I can turn my passion into something that can sustain me long-term?”
Today’s Tribe Thursdays is inspired a letter I received from a reader a few months back. She writes:
I see so many people turning their passion and purpose into a side-hustle (or raket), or a business, and some even quit their jobs to pursue that business full-time. I want to know, is “pursuing your passion” for everyone? How do I know if I can turn my passion (which is painting & illustration, btw) into something that can sustain me long-term — and this is not just a fleeting hobby? What sign posts do I look for?
Pursuing your passion, and most especially, turning it into something that 1) can sustain you, and 2) can do that LONG-TERM, is not an easy or smooth-sailing journey. It takes discipline and dedication and work. More often than not, it takes short-term (and usually major) SACRIFICES.
But the truth is, the most worthwhile pursuits are often the scariest ones:
The bigger goal, the more your mind will resist, coming up with a hundred different excuses to discourage you. (I’m not ready! I might fail! I’m not talented enough! But I’m so busy this month! Maybe next year!)
And so you’re asking me how you would know if your passion is worth pursuing, or if it’s just a fleeting hobby. Well, here’s a simple 3-step test to gauge that. Follow along below:
The 3-Step Test
Think of the big dream that you want to achieve or do: maybe set up a business, or have a side-hustle on top of your day job, or travel the world while working remotely, or quit your job and work from home so you can be with your kid/dog more, etc. Think big! Think of how AWESOME and EXCITING it would feel when you have it all set up.
VERY, VERY, VERY IMPORTANT: Now think of all the steps you need to do to make that happen. List them all down on a notebook. All the extra hours you need to put in. The money you need to STOP spending on luxuries, and instead save for capital. The paperwork you need to register your business. The adjustments you need to make to your lifestyle, budget, schedule. The short-term sacrifices.
Now, carefully reflect and write down: How does that list make you feel about what’s next? Do you feel nervous… but excited and itching to start? Or do you feel discouraged, and immediately start thinking of all the ways it won’t work or you won’t have time for it?
Now that quick exercise/test is very telling. And the most important criteria you need to look out for, the sign post you need that signals to you that you’re ready to pursue your passion more seriously and perhaps full-time — is this:
YOUR EXCITEMENT > YOUR EXCUSES
Your excitement has to be
greater than your excuses.
And in the event that you find that your excuses are overpowering your excitement (this happens a lot, don’t worry, you’re not alone), ask yourself these two questions:
- Are you going after the right goal? (Maybe you’re just pursuing it because it’s what another person is doing… meh)
- Do you have a strong purpose behind your goal? (Maybe you want to earn extra income “just because”… meh)
Actually, when it all comes down to it, the final question to ask yourself is this:
Do you want it badly enough?
As a multi-passionate creative, I’ve been at a point where I felt like I was passionate about EVERYTHING. I had 5! 10! 15! passions, and I wanted to pursue them all!
Photography today! Videography tomorrow! Lettering the next! Ooh, maybe I should vlog on YouTube! What about making notebooks? What about making clothes? Aaaaah, I miss dancing! Or maybe I should do yoga teacher training…
But when I did the 3-step test, I was able to whittle down that list of 5! 10! 15! passions into a much shorter, way more clearer list. There were only 1 or 2 things that I was truly serious about committing to, after all.
And here’s what I’ve learned from over 5 years of teaching — my most successful students are the ones who willingly put themselves in a situation where they want to achieve their goals SO BAD, that they will charge through any excuse and figure out how to overcome them, by hook or by crook.
- They want it so bad, that they find ways to free up time in their schedule.
- They want it so bad, that they find smart ways to finish chores or family duties quicker and more efficiently to free up time.
- They want it so bad, that they find creative ways to save and raise money, even with a tight paycheck.
- They want it so bad, that they find sneaky ways to avoid distractions and temptations (social media! laziness!).
- They want it so bad, that they sacrifice a couple of sleepless nights to proactively Googling and researching how they can solve their problem (i.e. learning business, learning how to put up their own website, e-mailing possible clients, etc.).
In my classes, I give them structure — whether it’s journaling prompts, spreadsheets, worksheets, and a step-by-step process — but their drive? Their heart? Their passion? It’s coming from something WITHIN.
Think of it this way: I give them the engine, the car, the tools — but they bring the fuel. Can YOU bring the fuel?
So the next time you find yourself saying these following statements, and not doing anything concrete to overcome them:
“I really want to achieve this goal but I don’t have enough time.”
“I really want to achieve this goal but I’m so busy this month.”
“I really want to achieve this goal but I don’t have money.”
“I really want to achieve this goal but I don’t know how.”
“I really want to achieve this goal but…”
Maybe… just maybe…
You just don’t want it bad enough.
Think about it, Gabby. And think about it, <insert your name here>.
How bad do you really want it?
Do you want it bad enough that you’re willing to change your mindset & make the necessary sacrifices?
If you can’t answer these 2 questions with tons of commitment and conviction — then I’ll be really honest here: I can’t help you much.
I’m not going to spoonfeed you productivity or motivation or drive. I won’t (and can’t) ship you any extra time or extra energy in a gift box.
All I know is: I really believe everyone is capable of feeling the sense of FULFILLMENT you get when you do work that REALLY excites you.
Pursuing your passion is for everyone — that is, everyone who’s willing to put in the work.
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