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Real Passion Will Never Die Out? False.

Real Passion Will Never Die Out? False.

Passion is “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” It starts as a simple curiosity or a feeling of falling off of Niagara Falls. It rushes in and completely takes over every decision you make and fuels you each and every day.

Yet over time, you start to feel like you are leaving pieces of yourself behind and you feel more drained and lost than ever before. You become bored with what is in front of you and the career you chose is not meeting your expectations. The first job out of college no longer seems worthy of your time and the true meaning of what you are meant to do becomes a shadow over your head.

The passion that once flamed your career path is gone, leaving barely an ember of hope.

It is the day to day routines that slowly allows that flame to burn out. Routines are great when building self discipline and learning how to show up everyday. But when you become complacent within those routines, your mind loses focuses. When your brain doesn’t have enough energy, you start to wander.[1]

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The Journey to Discovering Passion

I was 16 when I graduated high school, after three different high schools in three different states, I finally made the decision to be done. This one choice led me on a path of discovery.

I started out in the military and getting hired at nineteen in a prison as an officer. I thought it was what I wanted, I knew I wanted to be in law enforcement because making a difference was where my heart was at.

Over time, that passion seemed to fade. The expectations from what the job would give me failed dramatically and I sat back down at the drawing board.

Again I was on my path of discovery and I made a practical choice. After six years of working in my first career, I began what would be my second career. I became an accountant with no clear passion.

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Over time my passion showed up again, and it turns out it was still a passion for making a difference.

It became clearer to me that my passion was not changing, it was the method in which I wanted to achieve my passion that was wandering.

From Wandering to Getting Clear on Your Passion

Getting clear on my passion was a discovery process of its own. I thought when my passion for the career I chose faded, it was my passion that was gone.

I have come to know that the passion is always there as long as I stoke that fire. The tools, methods and paths may change as situations change.

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As a mom to four kiddos, I no longer have a desire to work in a dangerous environment but I do have a desire to make a difference for other parents that are struggling. I took steps to ensure that my passion was always burning in the background instead of letting my brain take over and wander.

Start with Self Care

Remember to build in breaks daily and over long time periods. Learning to meditate or going for a walk will help you show up fully each day. Taking weekends to unplug or longer vacations will help you stay on track long term.

I had to take care of myself so my brain wasn’t losing focus. Take breaks and allow yourself to unplug. By unplugging, you allow your mind, body and spirit to refuel itself. Those breaks also allow you to work in sprints and produce better results.

Connect With “Why” Each Day

Write down your goals for the quarter. Doing this keeps your mind focused on what you are creating and why you are doing it. This gives you enough motivation to show up on the hardest days.

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Recognize what it is you want to create and why; connect with this daily. Connecting daily to your why will help you stoke that fire.

Look into Your Past

What were your goals and achievements? Identify your themes in passion. Write out what drives you today, include any curiosities. Look past the surface of your answers and note any themes from the past and future that are similar.

Passion Doesn’t Die, You’ve Just Got Bored Sometimes

A lot of times, your passion doesn’t just die all out. It’s the day to day routine that has bored you and burned out your motivation.

You are in charge of stoking your own fire of passion. It comes from within you, it is not an external source.

Once you are clear about your passion, always be flexible about your methods. If your first approach doesn’t work, change it. If your second approach doesn’t work again, think of new methods. Don’t let your passion die while getting stuck in an approach that doesn’t work.

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RebeccaLynn Bologna

MBA, Mom mentor and Business coach

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster How to Fix Burning out at Work and Get Back on Track What the Most Successful People Do in the Evening Real Passion Will Never Die Out? False.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

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