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Don’t Know How to Balance Your Dream With Reality? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions

Don’t Know How to Balance Your Dream With Reality? Ask Yourself These 7 Questions

There are a couple things that all of us hear, undoubtedly, in our lives. One is “What are you plans for the future?” and the other is “You should follow your heart and pursue your passion!”

The former can become very annoying, whereas the latter is supposed to make us feel confident and inspired. I don’t know about you, but when someone tells me to follow my dreams or pursue my passion, I have a tendency to freeze up. How am I supposed to do that? What if pursuing my passion means quitting my 9-5 job and being my own boss? How will I pay myself? How do I survive?

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These questions get scarier and more intense as they are listed out, but no matter how many there are, one thing remains: How would I go about following my passion?

“Follow your passion” is an oversimplified statement.

Despite all the fear and doubts, I’ve learned to believe in myself and take steps to start following my passions. I’ve started out slow; I still have a steady, full-time job. And I make sure the job I’m in allows me to use my right brain frequently.

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I’ve figured out the places I require compromise. I never accept a job in which I work weekends. I need that time to write and be creative. But it’s through figuring out that compromise that I’ve realized “follow your passion” is an oversimplified statement. We need to take a lot more consideration in choosing our career.

Following your passion doesn’t mean you need to be all-in.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals. Then I wanted to be a member of the Spice Girls because I loved to sing and I thought they had the coolest shoes. As time went on, I decided I would be a fashion designer and make all my own clothes.

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As I grew up, I grew out of this habit of changing my plans on a daily basis. I’m still passionate about singing, so I have a band. We perform on weekends, which is another reason why I won’t accept a full time career that would require me to work on Saturday and Sunday. I’m also passionate about writing which is why I have freelance work and write novels in my spare time. I can still do things I absolutely love without giving up a steady paycheck. And of course, the long-term goal would be to make those passions my main job.

Feel highly motivated when someone tells you to follow your passion? Wait, you should ask yourself these 7 questions first.

When I sing, people will tell me to audition for a reality singing contest. That’s very sweet of them, because I know it means they think I should be famous, but for now I’m so happy doing music the way I want to do it. And when I publish poetry or other writings, people ask why I don’t do it full time. For now, fear of the unknown sometimes holds me back. i.e. not knowing where my next paycheck would be coming from and when. These adjustments have worked for me, and it’s because I knew what questions to ask myself.

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  • When I think of what I’m passionate about, is it just one thing? If you’re like me, and passionate about many things, honor that! If you feel drawn to multiple talents or hobbies, don’t feel that you have to abandon one to pursue the other. Just because someone tells you “You should be an [insert passion-based career here], it doesn’t mean you should put yourself in a scary position and take a leap of faith any time soon.
  • Am I good enough to stand out from the crowd? Maybe you’re passionate about video game design. There are many people pursuing that very thing, but perhaps you have a natural ability to do something that it takes most people years of education to figure out. Don’t let yourself be talked out of a passion just because there is a lot of competition in the field. If someone tells you to pursue it, they obviously see your potential. Don’t be afraid to recognize it in yourself. And if you feel like you aren’t good enough yet, then how can you focus on improving your skills?
  • Can I really turn my passion into a career? This is the question you probably ask yourself every day. Yes, I love to sing, but if I tried out for a contest, would I lose? I love to write, but if I sent a book to be published, would they laugh at it? When it comes to something you’re passionate about, it takes hard work and dedication to turn it from a hobby into a career. For now, find ways to include your hobbies into your job. As a technical writer, I get to write for a living but still flex my right brain muscles when it comes to creating templates and general documentation. Perspective plays a big part!
  • Do I have thorough understanding of the industry related to my passion? Sometimes, the answer is going to be no. Even if you absolutely love the thing you’re passionate about, the industry that comes with it could require years of training and education. This should not automatically deter you from chasing after it. Make sure to weigh your options before taking that leap. If you don’t feel you know enough today, could you educate yourself tomorrow?
  • Can my passion be transformed in another form? When we are trying to make a career out of the thing we are passionate about, we usually develop a very narrow focus. When I was looking for a job, I knew I wanted to write. So I, of course, looked for jobs that boasted the word “writer.” I never imagined I would fall into a technical writer position, but it wound up being a great way to translate what I love into something I can make money doing. If you’re opinionated, you could be an advice columnist, a public speaker or a politician. Don’t put blinders on when it comes to your future.
  • Can I support myself if I turn my passion into my career? I know it probably seems like I’m harping on this point, but it’s about self-preservation. If you’re able to do something you love, that’s great! But is it paying the bills? Are you able to keep food on the table? Do you have the basic necessities covered and enough cash to go out with friends? It’s sad to think about focusing solely on financial success; it seems like compromising love for a paycheck, but it’s about being able to take care of yourself. So if you’re an artist, and you know you love to create, could you do web design? Maybe you could become a graphic designer. Sometimes creativity is required when it comes to merging passion and success.
  • If I had to do it every day for money, would it still be my passion? When I was in college, I started off as a voice major (singing) because it came with a scholarship. It sounds great, right? I love to sing and now I’m going to school for it, woohoo! But that wasn’t the case. When I was forced to do this thing, no matter how much I loved it, for grades and success, it became very depressing. After all, I wanted to sing classic rock, not Italian arias. I love playing shows now and making money, of course! But the fact remains: when you’re forced to do something, day after day, it suddenly loses its purity and becomes a controller.[1]

Let’s sum it all up.

What it comes down to is self-awareness. It’s key to know what moves you, what inspires you and what makes you want to wake up in the morning. But it’s also important to know when those people in your life, no matter how supportive, need to be ignored. “You should do this for a living!” and “Wow, you are so good at this! Why aren’t you making money?” are rooted in respect and gratitude, but only you know when to pursue something you love and therefore allow it to define who you are. It’s not a bad thing to let a talent remain a hobby. And it’s also not a bad thing to let a hobby become a profession. But know where to draw the line and how to stay happy.

Reference

More by this author

Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on October 17, 2018

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

7 Natural (And Highly Effective) Ways to Improve Memory

How is your memory? Is your cognitive function as strong as you’d like it to be?

If not, then you’re definitely going to be interested in the memory improvement tips I’ll be sharing with you in this article.

Despite what you might think – or have been told – improving your ability to recall information is certainly possible. You just need to know the right ways to do it. (Don’t worry, as you won’t need to make any significant lifestyle changes.)

So how to improve memory? Let’s dive straight into the first of seven easy ways to improve your memory significantly.

1. Meditate

We live in a world of non-stop, 24/7 information. It’s like a waterfall that’s endlessly pouring news, data, facts and figures into our conscious minds.

Unfortunately, our brains are not designed to absorb this tremendous amount of information. It’s no wonder then, that most people struggle to remember information and recall things.

Even if you believe you have a good memory and are comfortable with multi-tasking, you’ll also be aware that there’s only so much information your brain can process at one time. And research suggests that the more information and distractions, the harder it is for you to transfer information to your long-term memory.[1]

Fortunately, meditation can help you out.

Even if you just meditate for 10 minutes per day, you’ll boost your ability to focus, which in turn, will make it easier for you to remember important facts.

If you need help in shifting into a meditative state, I recommend trying an app like Headspace – which can assist you to achieve this in a convenient and structured way.

And don’t forget, meditation doesn’t just have to be closing your eyes and sitting in a lotus position. Some people prefer to simply take a short walk in nature. This clears and calms their mind, and still provides the all-important boost to their focus.

2. Get plenty of sleep

If you’re sleep deprived or have not been sleeping well, then I’m guessing you’re not remembering well either. This is because sleep and memory are intimately connected.

If you have a busy life and regularly find yourself not getting enough sleep, then this will negatively impact your cognitive abilities – including your memory.

How much sleep should you be getting?

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Well, according to the National Sleep Foundation, you need a minimum of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you get this amount of sleep regularly, then within just a few days, you’ll see a tangible improvement to your ability to remember and recall things.

Now, I’ll be honest with you, maintaining a proper sleep cycle is not always easy (especially when the latest Netflix series has just been released!). But if you care about improving your short-term and long-term ability to remember things, then it’s critical that you try to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.

Are there ways to hack the sleep cycle?

Yes, there are.

Try these three things:

  • Have a fixed bedtime (preferably before 10pm)
  • Don’t eat too late
  • Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible

Sleeping is a precious activity. It regenerates your body, clears your mind, and helps with the storing and retrieval of information.

However, don’t sleep just yet, as I want to tell you about another great way to increase memory…

3. Challenge your brain

When was the last time you challenged your brain?

I don’t mean challenged in the sense of overeating or undersleeping. I’m referring to stretching your mental capabilities through things like crossword puzzles, Sudoku and memory games.

To expand your memory bank, and to make your recall razor-sharp, you need to continually challenge your brain.

Feedback from Lifehack readers such as yourself, has suggested that brain training apps are a super-effective way of doing this. Used regularly, these apps can enhance your focus, attention span, problem-thinking ability and memory.

There are hundreds of these apps available (most of them for free), but I recommend starting out with one of the big three:

  • Peak (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Lumosity (Android/iOS, free, 10 million+ downloads)
  • Elevate (Android/iOS, free, 5 million+ downloads)

If you normally spend a chunk of your week playing computer games, then instead of shooting and killing your enemies, why not let some of them live – while you put your attention into boosting your brain power!

Challenging your brain will strengthen your neural pathways and enhance your mental abilities. But don’t just take my word for it, try one of the apps above and see the positive benefits for yourself.

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4. Take more breaks

When I think back to my days as a budding entrepreneur, I distinctively remember working all the hours under the sun – and many under the moon too!

At that time, I believed that breaks were for the weak, and to become wealthy and successful, I needed to shed blood, sweat and tears.

However, I was wrong.

Taking regular breaks is the best way to keep yourself productive, creative and alive to opportunities. It’s also the best way to learn new information.

Let me explain.

Typically, when studying lots of new information, most people will spend hours reading it – in an attempt to learn and remember the content as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, they’ve overlooked something.

Namely, extended study sessions are rarely a good thing, as your ability to retain information naturally declines after a certain period of time.

It’s similar to physical exercise. You wouldn’t attempt to train vigorously for four hours in a row. Instead, you’d take regular breaks to give your lungs, heart and muscles adequate time to recover. Failing to do this will result in muscle cramps and overexertion.

It’s the same with your brain. If you overload it with information, you’ll suffer from mental fatigue.

What’s the answer?

Make sure you take regular breaks when learning new information. I recommend at least a 10-minute break every hour. (You may also want to take a look at the Pomodoro Method.)

If you don’t want to be as regimented as that, then take breaks as soon as you find yourself losing the ability to focus on the new material. Your brain will thank you – and your learning aptitude will move up a level.

5. Learn a new skill

I love this quote, as it’s 100% true – but frequently overlooked:

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci

From my experience of helping to develop the careers of dozens of Lifehack employees, I can definitively say that participating in meaningful and purposeful activities stimulates the mind. It also reduces stress and enhances health and well-being.

Let me give you an example of this:

Imagine you work for a global financial institution in one of their call centers. You take over 100 calls a day – many of them complaints. When you started the job a few months back, you were excited to be in full-time employment and working for a household name.

Unfortunately, your initial enthusiasm quickly turned into frustration.

The endless complaint calls began to take their toll on you. And the supervisors irritated you too, as they were far too interested in micro-managing you – rather than letting you work in your own way.

Now, in the story above, the ending could be that you put up with a job you didn’t like, and led a dull and frustrated working life for years and years. However, an alternative ending is this: you channeled your dissatisfaction in to learning a new skill (computer coding). It took you a year or two to get up to speed, but it allowed you to successfully upgrade your career – and the ongoing learning made the call centre job much more bearable.

Clearly, learning new skills gives you impetus, focus and something to aim for. Your brain loves to learn, and you should tap into this by always seeking our new information. And when learning becomes a habit, you’ll find your ability to remember and recall things effortlessly, becomes a habit too.

6. Start working out

If you’re not already working out regularly, then here’s another reason to do so:

Exercising for 20-30 minutes three times a week will improve your long-term memory.

Regular exercise increases blood flow in your body and supplies the brain with extra oxygen and nutrients. And a well-nourished brain is a well-functioning brain!

“But I just don’t have the time?,” I hear you say.

Not a problem.

A research has shown that a daily burst of 60 seconds of high-intensity exercise, offered many of the benefits of the longer exercise routines.[2] So, if you’re short on time – now you know what to do.

Interested in getting started?

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Here are five different ways that will help you work out:

  • Join a gym
  • Join a sports team
  • Buy a bike
  • Take up hiking
  • Dance to your favorite music

7. Eat healthier foods

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression: “You are what you eat.”

This applies to your brain too.

The food that you eat helps determine your brain’s capacity to store and recall information. A poor diet (think junk food + soda!) harms not just your physical health, but your mental health too.

Fortunately, there are several foods that are especially good for your brain and your memory. These include: blueberries, celery and dark chocolate. But anything high in antioxidants will have a positive effect on your brain and memory.

Conversely, highly-processed foods and those loaded with sugar will have a negative impact on your memory. This is due to them providing insufficient nutrients for your brain – leading you to easily suffer from mental fatigue.

Want to be mentally healthy? Then eat and drink an abundance of these for brain health:

  • Turmeric – helps new brain cells grown
  • Broccoli – protects the brain against damage
  • Nuts – improves memory
  • Green tea – enhances brain performance, memory and focus[3]
  • Fish oilfish oil supplements can increase your brain power

Here’re more brain food options that improve memory!

Final thoughts

I sincerely hope these seven memory boosting ways that I’ve covered in this article will be of help to you.

You don’t need to implement them all. I suggest just trying the ones that appeal to you.

But, if you’re serious about dramatically improving your memory, then make a start right now on adopting one or more of the ways I’ve suggested. I’m confident you won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Eric Ward via unsplash.com

Reference

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