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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Why Following Your Passion Is Not Enough to Become Successful

Why Following Your Passion Is Not Enough to Become Successful

Did you know that Vincent Van Gogh never made it big in his lifetime? Despite a prolific passion for painting and producing over 900 paintings in 10 years, he only ever sold one in his lifetime for 400 Francs, 7 months before his death in 1890. Jump forward 100 years, and his painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet sold for 148.6 million dollars![1]

So, is it enough to follow your passion to be successful? If it hadn’t been for Van Gogh’s sister-in-law, we may never have heard of the ear cutting genius.

If you find you are not achieving the success you want, have you considered that your idea of “passion” needs to change? Do you get up on a Monday morning feeling less than 100% positive about the week ahead?

According to a global poll by Gallup, of the world’s one billion full-time workers, only 15% are engaged at work. That means 85% are plodding through the motions, unhappy in the place they spend most of their time, and lacking in passion for the work at hand.[2]

Sad, right?

Let’s explore what you can do to ensure your success in everything you want to do in any area of your life.

Is It Enough to Follow Your Passion?

Van Gogh famously said, “a great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke.”

I’ve seen business owners bemused at why their passion is not equating profits, bosses who can’t comprehend why their staff doesn’t have their passion for the business, and people frustrated that their best endeavors aren’t delivering success when they are so passionate about the result.

What do all of these have in common?

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A warped impression of passion.

Take the person frustrated that they can’t get what they want despite their passion for it. If you’ve ever read The Secret or books that say what you think is what you get, it would be annoying that something you are so passionate about doesn’t magically appear!

It’s all very well to dream a dream in your mind, but you then have to spot the signs and take action on them. Noticing what is around you can be a lifehack to improving your results when it comes to your passion.

  • Do you notice the throwaway comments some people make that could lead to your dreams?
  • Do you follow up with people who said, “wow, I’d love to know more?” And no, sorry to disappoint you, but using email or messenger is not a powerful way to follow up. This is your life’s ambition, pick up the phone!
  • Do you listen to your body when it says, “I’m too hot,” “I’m thirsty,” or “I’m struggling”? All of these are signs that you need something. If you want to achieve your dreams, being attached to the plan/office/goal with no breaks doesn’t mean you are going to get it.
  • Do you have a written plan of action? We have all heard that a goal written down is more tangible and more likely to be achieved. A study conducted about goal-setting with nearly 270 participants showed that 42% were more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down.[3]

Goals With Passion

If you aren’t getting to your dream destination, what are you not noticing?

Passion needs focus and a plan for when you realize what you’ve not been paying attention to. You then need to ensure that you have a plan that covers everything.

When I work with a client on a goal, we ensure the goal has the following elements:

  1. Laser clear focus on how the goal will feel when you achieve it.
  2. What will the goal do for you?
  3. How will it change your life?
  4. What actions could you do? You won’t be doing all of these, but you want to create at least 50 ideas. The more you think, the better the ideas will be.
  5. Who will keep you on track and focused and stop you from getting the Shiny Thing Syndrome where you disappear off in a new direction and your results get diluted?
  6. What actions will you take? Narrow this to the first 3 to 5 actions you need to take. Don’t do the easy ones, do the essential ones, and don’t add more until these initial ones are achieved. Everything else becomes back burner ideas to add at a later date according to your results.
  7. When will you achieve this? It’s a good idea to schedule those actions and work to a 4 to 6 weeks mini-goal schedule. This does several things, including ensuring you stay motivated and believing it will work.
  8. Using this strategy, revisit elements 1 to 3 regularly and ensure you are adding new actions every 4 to 6 weeks, allowing time for reflection and understanding what is working and what is not.

This strategy takes the guesswork out of passion and gives it structure to ensure you get what you want.

When to Ignore or When to Follow Your Passion

Sounds contrary to success, doesn’t it? However, some jobs aren’t fun. You may love your career, business, body, home, partner, friends, or ambition, but that doesn’t mean you will love every aspect of it. Sometimes, it is better not to blindly follow your passion.

Ever heard the saying, “build it and they will come.”? This just isn’t true. Passion will not get you to where you want to go.

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Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this: “Do I want a surgeon with passion or a surgeon with skill?”

It makes me shudder when I see posts on social media telling people to go for it and don’t look back. Many sayings have been morphed into a new dangerous approach to personal and professional success. A great example is public speaking. I’ve fixed lots of people’s fears of public speaking to make them awesome communicators but unlike many issues that impact success, a new mindset is not enough.

For example, if you get on stage without the skills, your great mindset will not necessarily deliver the results you want. It could actively damage them!

Procrastination Hides Your Passion Downfalls

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.” –– Jack Kerouac

Challenge and question yourself if passion is stopping you from investing in new skills or new habits. For instance, I adore writing and coaching, but I’ve never enjoyed writing coaching reports and my publisher will tell you how much I loathe editing!

Look for the procrastination in your life, and you may have the answers to where passion needs to be ignored. You don’t always have to follow your passion.

Big Picture—Questioning Yourself

In number 2, we looked at the quality of your passion and its impact on your goals. Passion is not going to get you through when your laptop is broken, having a clear definition of the big picture will.

If you want to understand what this looks like, ask yourself these questions:

  • What will success look like to you?
  • How will you know you are successful?
  • How will you celebrate being successful?
  • What does your passion bring to your ambitions?
  • What risk factors do your passions present to you in achieving your goals?
  • What could ensure that getting carried away with your passion is not an obstacle to your success?

Now, notice what words you’ve used. Have you talked about how amazing it will be or how great it will be to get away from everything you didn’t want?

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Some of us are drawn to the results and others are running away from the failings and limits of their current life. The more you can understand who you are and how you think, the more you will rise above passion.

This is essential because it will:

  • ensure you keep going when passion is flagging;
  • stop you from getting sidetracked into something that stirs passion but doesn’t deliver results; and
  • help you create a passion for things you have hated doing in the past.

One client had been knocked back for funding their charitable endeavors five times. After one session, they were given thousands of dollars. I know nothing about funding applications, but I do know about the power of our minds, so take the time to question yourself.

A Damaged Mindset—Using Those Power Words

Passion can drive your success forward, or it can drive you to insanity.

To constantly work and work and work and not get the results you want is, at the least, depressing and demotivating and at worse, demoralizing and soul-destroying. Just as passion can be used to motivate you into action, a lack of results from passion can seriously damage your mindset—and a damaged mindset can lead to poor judgment, poor decisions, and poor results.

Use the above questions to discover your power words. These will drive you on. Write them down and make them visual in your everyday life, or add them to the home page of your phone. You need to remember what is driving that passion every day.

By understanding your unique take on the idea of achievement, you can keep going and know when passion is damaging your success instead of enabling it.

Getting It Wrong

If you are passionate about a result but aren’t achieving anything, have you considered what you are going to do about it?

Many describe themselves as busy fools or looking busy to avoid doing any real work. That’s a lack of passion right there. There are times when you shouldn’t follow your passions. Instead, you have to find a passion for the things you don’t want to do.

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In every job, there are elements you won’t enjoy. You will often find that the mindset connected to passion is wrong. Passion can cause you to have a fixed mindset that doesn’t look around at possible ways of working better to get the results you want.

Gregory Walton Associate Professor, Psychology at Stanford University said,

“Many advances in sciences and business happen when people bring different fields together, when people see novel connections between fields that maybe hadn’t been seen before.”[4]

In their research with Carol Dweck and Paul O’Keefe, they concluded that those popular mantras like “follow your passion” make people think that pursuing a passion will be easy. Believers are then more likely to give up when they face challenges or roadblocks.

Final Thoughts

So, when to follow your passion?

Ultimately, passion is a driver to success but only if you are managing its impact on your results. You must know when you should and should not follow your passions.

Hopefully, I’ve shared 7 valuable points to ensure you really challenge that passion of yours so you get the results you want. Please feel free to get in touch on what you learn about yourself and its impact on your success.

More Articles About Following Your Passion

Featured photo credit: Timur Romanov via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

International Coach, Best Selling Author & Speaker inspiring people around the world to success.

How to Control the Uncontrollable In Life 6 Types of Fear of Success (And How to Overcome Them) Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness 20 Life Coping Skills That Will Help You Stay Strong How to Effectively Set Goals in Life to Get Where You Really Want to Be

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Last Updated on April 14, 2021

What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

What Are SMART Goals (and How to Use Them to Be Successful)

As a track and field runner in school, every year I would sit down with my coach and set a series of goals for the season. Once we had set my goals for the year, we would create a training plan so I could achieve those targets. This helped me answer the main question here: “What are SMART goals?”

Before I got a coach, I used to run aimlessly with no plan, no target races. More often than not, I would end up injured and find my season ending after achieving very little.

Once I got a coach, though, I started winning races that mattered and began enjoying my sport. This annual process taught me from a very early age that goals are important if I want to achieve the things that are important to me.

So what exactly are SMART goals? This article will talk about why goals matter, how to use SMART goals effectively with your time and resources, and how these goals give you a clear, specific plan that works time and time again.

Why Do People Fail to Reach Their Goals?

Setting SMART goals and achieving them

is not easy, and many people fail. A study by Scranton University found that only 8% of those who set New Year goals actually achieve them, meaning 92% who set new year goals fail[1].

The problem is that many people see goals, such as New Year resolutions, as hopes and wishes. They hope they will lose some weight, they wish to start their own business, or they hope to get a better job. The problem with “hoping” and “wishing” for something is that there is no plan, no purpose, and no time frame set for achieving the goals.

Once these hopes and wishes come face-to-face with the realities of daily life, they soon dissolve into lost hopes and wishful thinking.

Therefore, in order to really achieve something, you need a concrete goal: a SMART goal.

What Are SMART Goals?

The foundation of all successfully accomplished goals is the SMART goal.

Originally conceived by George T. Doran in a 1981 paper[2], this formula has been used in various forms ever since.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. It has been used by corporations and individuals to achieve their goals and objectives and is a formula that, on the whole, works well.

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Use SMART goals to help you achieve more.

    The strength of SMART goals is that they set a clear path to achieving goals, and they have a clear time frame in which to achieve them. Let’s look at the SMART criteria in a little more detail:

    Specific

    For a goal to be achievable, it needs to have a very clear outcome. What you are asking is, “What exactly do I want to achieve?” The clearer the goal, the more likely it is you will achieve it.

    For example, if you just say “I want to lose weight,” then technically you could achieve your goal just by not eating dinner for one day—you would lose weight that way, even if it were temporary.

    You need to have a more specific goal: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

    Measurable

    To achieve anything, it’s important to have measurable goals. T

    ake the example above: “I want to lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year.”

    It’s measurable, as all you need do is weigh yourself on 1 January, then deduct twenty-pounds from that and set that weight as the target for 31 July. Then, each week you weigh yourself to measure progress.

    Attainable

    Being attainable means that SMART goals are realistic and that you have what you need in order to achieve them.

    In our example of losing weight, 20 pounds in six months is certainly doable. Your resources could include a gym membership, some at-home weights, or simply motivation to get outside and run everyday.

    If motivation is an area where you struggle, you can check out Lifehack’s Ultimate Worksheet for Instant Motivation Boost.

    Relevant

    For any goal to be achieved, you need to set relevant goals for your unique life.

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    If losing weight is doable with the lifestyle you have, and if you believe it will lead to a happier, healthier life, then it is certainly relevant to you. It’s even more relevant if your doctor has pointed out that you need to lose weight to prevent health issues.

    Time-based

    Finally, you need a timeline. All your goals need to have an end date because it creates a sense of urgency and gives you a deadline.

    In our example of losing twenty-pounds, a timeline of six months would be specific, measurable, relevant, and would have a timeline. Furthermore, as you have what you need to achieve that goal, it is attainable—all elements of the formula for SMART goals are included.

    How to Reach a SMART Goal

    The problem I have always found with the SMART goal formula is it does not take into account the human factor. We need motivation and a reason for achieving these goals.

    If you decide to lose twenty-pounds, for example, you are going to spend many months feeling hungry, and unless you possess superhuman mental strength, you are going to give in to the food temptations.

    All SMART goals can be distilled down to three words:

    • What do you want to achieve?
    • Why do you want to achieve it?
    • How are you going to achieve it?

    When you simplify your goal in this way, achieving it becomes much easier.

    1. Visualize What You Want

    One way to make your goals achievable is to visualize the end result. When you write out your mission statement, you should be imagining what it will be like once you have achieved the goal.

    In our weight loss example, you would close your eyes and imagine walking down from your hotel room in Ibiza in July with your towel, sunscreen, sunglasses, and swimwear on. You would imagine walking past all the other sunbathers and the feeling you have, the pride in the way you look and feel.

    Try to invoke as many of the five senses as you possibly can[3].

    2. Identify Your “Why”

    If you take losing twenty-pounds as an example, once you have made the decision that you want to do this, the next question to ask yourself is, “Why?” The more personal your why, the better.

    Your why could be, “Because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza this summer.” That is a strong why.

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    If your why is, “Because my doctor told me to lose some weight,” that is not a good why because it’s your doctor’s, not yours.

    One way to identify your “why” is to write your mission statement.

    To help with setting achievable SMART goals, when working with my clients, I always ask them to complete the following mission statement:

    I will [STATE GOAL CLEARLY] by [DATE YOU WANT TO COMPLETE THE GOAL] because [YOUR WHY].

    If you want to write a SMART goal for the weight loss example, your mission statement would be written: “I will lose twenty-pounds by the end of July this year because I want to look and feel fantastic by the pool in Ibiza.”

    Never write a mission statement that is full of vague words. The words you use should be simple, direct, and clear.

    3. Figure out Your “How”

    Before you can begin achieving your goal, you need to create a list of steps you can take to make it happen.

    Write down everything you can think of that will help achieve your goal. It doesn’t matter what order you write these tasks down; what matters is that you write down as many action steps you can think of.

    I always aim for around one hundred small steps. This makes it much easier to assign tasks for each day that not only moves you forward on your goal, but also keeps you focused every day on achieving it.

    Once you have your list, you can create a to-do list for the goal and allocate the steps to different days so you create momentum towards a successful outcome.

    You can learn more about how to use SMART goals to achieve success and lasting change in this video:

    Bonus: Make a PACT

    There is one more part needed to really make sure you achieve the SMART goals you set for yourself, and that is something I call PACT. PACT is another acronym meaning Patience, Action, Consistency, and Time. You need all four of these to achieve goals.

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    Patience

    Without patience, you will give up. To achieve anything worthwhile requires patience. Success does not happen overnight. Be patient and enjoy the process of stepping a little closer towards achieving your goal each day.

    Action

    If you do not take action on any goal, then even SMART goals won’t be achieved. You need to make sure you remind yourself of your goal and why you want to achieve it each day. Read your mission statement, make an action plan, and then take the necessary action to make sure you move a step closer each day.

    Consistency

    The action you take each day towards achieving your goal needs to be consistent. You can’t follow your diet program for a week and then have three weeks off. Jim Rohn said it perfectly when he said:

    “Success is a few simple disciplines practised every day.”

    Time

    Of course, you need to allow enough time between where you are today and where you want to be in the future. Be realistic about time, and don’t get disheartened if you miss your deadline. Readjust your timeline if necessary.

    The Bottom Line

    The key to success is to put everything together. When you connect all of these elements, you create an environment where achieving SMART goals becomes much more attainable.

    Whether it’s personal or business goals, when you have a strong personal “why” for your goal, your motivation to keep going stays strong.

    Start with your “why,” and then get started on the action steps that will take you all the way to the end.

    More Tips on Reaching Your Goals

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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