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Published on October 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.

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Last Updated on November 3, 2020

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

How to Use the Prioritization Matrix When Every Task is #1

It takes being productive to get things done correctly and on time. So how do you know which tasks are essential and which can wait? The answer is in the Prioritization Matrix, also known as the Eisenhower Matrix.

The matrix took its name after Dwight David Eisenhower.

Eisenhower was a general in the US army and the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. As a five-star general and a Supreme Commander in the US Army, he drafted the strategy for an Allied invasion of Europe.[1]

Eisenhower had to make tough decisions every time about which tasks to prioritize out of many he needed to focus on daily. So, he came up with the famous Eisenhower Matrix, or the Prioritization Matrix.

What Is the Prioritization Matrix?

The Prioritization Matrix is a tool for rating your tasks based on urgency. It helps you know the critical activities and those tasks that you should bypass and can be useful in project management, small businesses, or personal tasks.

Eisenhower famously said of the matrix:

“Most tasks that are urgent are not important, and most tasks that are important are not urgent.”

This quote became the maxim for Eisenhower in managing his time.

There are four quadrants in the Prioritization Matrix, which help in comparing choices of what to do first and last, allowing you to prioritize projects and create strategic plan[2].

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Eisenhower Matrix Template

    The quadrants are:

    • Do
    • Schedule
    • Delegate
    • Eliminate

    Do

    Do is the first quadrant in the Prioritization Matrix, and it incorporates important activities. That is, those tasks you need to carry out urgently — crises, deadlines, and issues that need your urgent attention and are highly relevant to your life mission.

    Hw do you know which task falls into this quadrant?

    Start by analyzing your priorities, and then establish if it falls within the ‘do it now’ criteria. If the task is achievable within a day, or within 24 to 48 hours, it’s urgent.

    Another approach you can adopt in prioritizing tasks in this category is to adopt the “eat the frog” principle by Mark Twain. This principle recommends that you do the most urgent activities as soon as you wake up.

    Here’s a practical example.

    Let’s say you need to draft a content strategy and submit a report to your manager. It’s Saturday, and the deadline for submission is Monday. Can we say the activity is urgent? Definitely!

    Schedule

    The second quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Schedule. The Prioritization Matrix classifies tasks in this category as important but not that urgent.

    They are long-term objectives and tasks with no immediate deadline. Those tasks could include meditation, journaling, studying, family time, and exercising.

    You can plan out activities in this quadrant for some other period. For instance, you should exercise for good health, but you can allocate time to do it.

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    Schedule these activities in such a way that they don’t transfer to the “Do” or “Urgent” quadrant. Ensure you have sufficient time to carry them out.

    Delegate

    The third quadrant of the prioritization matrix is Delegate.

    These tasks are not important to you but are quite urgent for others. This is where teamwork comes into play.

    You can technically perform tasks in this category, but it makes sense to delegate them. Delegating tasks will ensure you have more time to pursue activities in your first two quadrants.

    You should also monitor the tasks you have delegated. It will only amount to a sheer waste of time if you don’t have a tracking system for delegated tasks.

    Eliminate

    The last quadrant highlights your productivity killers. They are tasks that are not important to your goals and not urgent. The only way to boost your productivity is to eliminate them.

    Some examples are constantly checking your phone, watching movies, or playing video games.

    They could also be bad habits that you need to identify and delete from your daily and weekly schedule.

    Successful people have learned how to prioritize and stick to what’s important. They have learned to find a better person for a task or eliminate less significant tasks.

    Let’s consider two inspiring personalities that have designed their prioritization system.

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    Warren Buffet developed a two-list prioritization model to determine which task deserves his best attention. The bottom line is bypassing things that are important and useful but not top of the priorities.

    Mark Ford, a business advisor, marketer, self-made millionaire, and author devised his strategy:

    “Start work on the most crucial priority, take a break, work on the second most important task, take a break, then sort out the less important activities and any tasks he received from other individuals by afternoon.” [3]

    How to Use The Prioritization Matrix

    Using the Prioritization Matrix can be tricky if you’re new at it, but by following a few simple steps, you can learn to utilize it in the best way possible.

    1. List and Rank Your Priorities

    Highlight all the tasks you need to carry out in a day. Then, classify them with weighted criteria based on urgency and importance.

    Identify any activity that requires prompt action. I’m referring to a task that if you don’t complete that day, it could produce a grave consequence. For instance, if you don’t submit your content strategy, other content writers cannot work. It means you need to check for high-priority dependencies.

    2. Define the Value

    The next step is to examine the importance and assess which of them impacts your business or organization the most. As a rule of thumb, you can check which tasks possess higher priority over others. For instance, you need to attend to client’s requirements before you take care of any internal work.

    You can also estimate value by examining how the task impacts the people and customers in the organization. In a nutshell, the more impact a task has on people or the organization, the higher the priority.

    3. Take out the Most Challenging Task

    Procrastination is not a symptom of laziness, but avoidance is. The truth is that you will typically avoid tasks you don’t want to do. The former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, once said he would take out the most dreaded task first thing when he got to the office.

    Brian Tracy called these tasks the frogs you need to eat. That will remove the nagging dread, which mounts pressure on you when you postpone necessary tasks[4]. This is where the Prioritization Matrix can help; eat the “Do” frogs immediately.

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    If you need help overcoming procrastination, check out this article.

    4. Know What’s Important to You

    As long as you are in this cosmos, you will always encounter different choices that may be contradictory to your goals. For instance, a fantastic promotion that requires excessive travel will isolate you from important relationships. If you are not priority-conscious, you may accept it, even though your family is your priority.

    Therefore, it makes sense to identify what is important to you and to prepare yourself not to compromise those important things for immediate pleasure or gain.

    Yogi Berra captioned it this way:

    “If you do not know your destination, you might end up somewhere else.”

    5. Establish Regular “No Work” Time

    YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki established a rule not to check her emails between 6 pm and 9 pm. According to a CNN Business report, she was the first woman to request maternity leave when Google just got started. She prioritizes dinner time with her family despite being the CEO of YouTube[5].

    Is it possible to cut out time for our relationships and interests outside of work?

    Of course, and that’s why you need to set out your “no work” time. This approach will enable you to renew your energy levels for the next task. Also, you will be in the best position to introspect as you are not in your usual work zone.

    6. Know When to Stop

    You can achieve everything on your list sometimes. After you have prioritized your workload and assessed your estimates, remove the remaining tasks from your priority list and focus on your most urgent and important tasks.

    Conclusion

    It’s not enough to be successful at work. Ensure you make out time for your family and an important relationship in your life.

    Getting started and finding time may be tricky, but with some practice using the Prioritization Matrix, you’ll find that you are more productive and better able to divide your time between the things that are important to you.

    More Tips on Prioritizing

    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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