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Seeking Passion in Your Life? First Step: Simplify.

Seeking Passion in Your Life? First Step: Simplify.

Passions can be elusive playmates. While some people seem to be born knowing what they want, some of us have to try everything out first to see if it fits. I know people who set their course for their dream job as soon as they could talk. And, then there are others who have no clue what they want to do when the grow up—even when they grow up. I fell into this late-bloomer category and followed a career for security reasons over life passion. I did this because I discovered I wasn’t living my passion after I was already in a cushy career. Breaking out of the rat race after getting comfortable there isn’t easy. But, staying in a job once I knew my true calling was worse. It led to burnout after ten years. Take it from me, you can earn a living following your heart. Don’t sacrifice your passions for a paycheck.

What about you? Are you following your fire within? If not, how do you find it? In my experience, you have to simply your life and let go!

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Let Go of the Stuff

The main reason I felt the need to continue in a career that I didn’t love is because I had a huge mortgage and a lot of stuff to manage; I knew I had to make X amount per year to feed our hungry budget. There wasn’t any way I could do that immediately by following my writing dream. So, my consumerism trapped me by plugging my ears to my inner heart cry.

When I sold the stuff, all of the pressure to make my current salary went with it. I was finally free of a cage that I didn’t realize I was contained in until it was gone. I realize this is a drastic move, and I’m not advocating you sell everything—unless it’s exactly what you need.

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Let Go of Your Need for Security

One reason I kept working for others doing something I didn’t enjoy was that I craved security. In my job, I always knew how much I would make. I had a company car and an amazing health care plan. Now, I no longer have those things. There are certainly sacrifices along the way, yet the peace found in pursuing my passion far outweighs my lack of company benefits and salary.

Is there a passion burning within, but you are afraid to follow it? I understand! It took me almost ten years to get up the courage, but every day you spend not doing what you love because of fear will cause you regret later. It’s just more of your life invested in surviving vs. living.

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Let Go of the Expectations

I always felt that to be successful, I needed to make an amazing salary. I thought that was the best way to measure success. I also stayed in a steady job because I felt that was what others expected from me. I was trying to fit into a mold, even though I wasn’t the author of it. I no longer feel that way. Chasing money over passion creates emptiness: If the money comes from pursing my passion, so much the better, but if it doesn’t, I am still doing what I love. An extra two thousand square feet in a house and a slightly nicer car aren’t worth the burn out.

Are you working in a role because you feel it meets others expectations for you? Maybe it’s time to have a talk about what you really want out of life. While I’m not advocating ignoring responsibilities or leaping off a ledge without a plan in place, it’s also ridiculous to ignore the proactive steps needed to break into your area of interest eventually. You may not have the luxury of leaving your job right away. But, even tiny daily steps such as researching opportunities, training options, and talking with others in your desired field will move you toward a happier future.

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Letting Go of the Job = Self Worth Mentality

You are so much more than your business card. In our culture, most people define their worth by a fancy job title. For years, I was trapped in this mindset: I wanted to see how much money I could make and how many promotions I could get, because somehow I felt this would mean I was worth more as a person. If others saw my value and paid me for it, then it was a justification of my merit. At the time, I placed success in my job on such a pedestal that I unknowingly was sacrificing my relationships, my health, and my marriage.

Now, I measure my self worth differently. I ask myself hard questions daily, such as: Am I doing what I love? Am I giving my best in all areas of life? At the end of my life, will I have regrets? Am I valuing people or possessions? Am I helping others? Am I leaving a legacy? If today were my last day of life, would I be happy with how I spent it? Living in this mindset brings me peace and shows me that I don’t need a massive salary or job title to be valued or happy.

Let Go of  the Rat Race

Often, work creates a lot of distractions that prevent you from deeper emotional digging. I found that when I was working, the mental endurance needed to do my job left me too exhausted to entertain other possibilities. I was so absorbed in my work, I didn’t take time to evaluate my life. While I took a drastic step and left my job, anyone can take a few days off to devote to some self exploration. Go somewhere quiet and peaceful for a few days. Consider what you value and if it aligns with how you currently spend your time. It’s empowering when you finally decide to quit the martyrdom and embrace what excites you.

If you aren’t following your life longings currently, deep down you already know it. While it is scary to let go, it is even scarier to give your years to something that you dread doing. So many people just slog through their days and live for the weekends. That’s not the way I want to spend my time! Simplify your life, remove the noise that’s drowning out your inner voice, and discover your passion. You will often find you can make an amazing living, and an even more amazing life, doing what you love.

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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