If I hear one more well-meaning wantrepeneur tell me that the number one key to success is “following your passion,” I’ll be sick.
While it’s important to love what you do, it is essential that the activities you engage in on a day-to-day basis (ie. your job or career) are moving you towards your goals. When your actions do not align with your goals, you will end up with failure.
Let’s take knitting as an example:
You’re passionate about knitting, but you have a six-million dollar mansion on your vision-board right next to a brand-new Maserati… while there may be a handful of people in the history of the world who have made serious bank, knitting– the chances that you will reach the goal you’ve sent for yourself, on that path, is unlikely.
The truth is that, when most of us hear “follow your passion”, we haven’t experienced enough to truly know what our passion is– let alone “follow” it. In fact, the advice to “follow your passion” has lead many would-be entrepreneurs straight to failure. Just because you enjoy doing something, doesn’t mean you are “passionate” about it. On the flipside, just because you don’t enjoy doing something, doesn’t mean you cannot be passionate about it. The key to finding a profession you’re passionate about, is to never follow your passion– search for it instead.
You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: “everything you desire exists outside of your comfort zone.” Reaching your goals will require just that: reaching. Reach beyond your comfort zone and push your boundaries by making a habit of seeking new experiences that make you just a little uncomfortable. Replace your fear with curiosity.
For example, when I first started as a GM of 8 businesses at 21, I was unprepared, and not exceedingly passionate about the challenge. However, as I began to immerse myself in my new position and learn about how to succeed in it, I became passionate about it. The lesson? I would have never known that I could be passionate about management or customer service, if I hadn’t jumped into to something that I was not entirely comfortable with.
If you have the same “passions” you had 5 years ago, you’re not experiencing enough.
When I was young, and my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “everything.” I know now that, being an entrepreneur is the closest I will come to achieving a life with that level of variety. Because I can’t possibly try every profession, I’ve learned to surround myself with experts in other industries. Through networking with professionals in a variety of industries, I get an exclusive peek into those industries.
One of the best, and fastest ways to find your passion is to experience them through your friends, or network. This way, you learn about the skills and training necessary, as well as the benefits and common challenges in a given field.
The dream doesn’t work unless you do. Once you have begun to expand your comfort zone, and grown your network to include a variety of industry professionals, it’s time to commit. This is the most difficult step, and the most essential. 99% of the population will continue in an industry that they are unhappy in, unwilling to leave, and completely uncommitted to. An unwillingness to commit is the number one cause of failure. Choose a path that aligns with your long-term goals, and appeals to you, after you’ve had some experience, and spoken with industry professionals. Whatever decision you have come to, commit to that decision. It could be the wrong choice, but you will never know until you go all-in. Who knows? Maybe you’re first shot at finding your passion will be the one you stick with for the rest of your life. Perhaps you’ll fail and gain priceless knowledge about what you should be doing instead. Either way, you can’t learn unless you make a decision and commit.
If your “passion” isn’t helping you reach your goals, take these tips and find one that does. Remember, a person can have more than one passion. In fact, there is no limit to the amount of areas a person can be passionate about. Get out of your comfort zone, explore new industries, and commit to a path that leads to your goals. Find your passion, don’t follow your passion. Get proactive about your goals and create the life you deserve.