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10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Follow Your Passion

10 Ways to Ignore the Naysayers and Follow Your Passion

It’s tough to follow a passion and make it your life. A lot of people will tell you to forget following your passion and try to find something that makes money that you don’t mind doing. In fact, telling people that following your passion is bad advice seems to be the new trend. Why? Because a lot of people either fail at making their passion into a viable living or they simply don’t know what their passion is.

Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, says that “The problem is that we don’t have much evidence that this is how passion works. ‘Follow your passion’ assumes: a) you have preexisting passion; and b) if you match this passion to your job then you’ll enjoy that job.

“When I studied the issue, it was more complex. Most people don’t have preexisting passions. And research on workplace satisfaction tells that people like their jobs for more nuanced reasons than simply it matches some innate interest.”

How can you follow a passion, then, if you don’t have one? Well, you can’t. But if you have a passion — even if it’s skiing or surfing, you can follow it or let it lead you to new and exciting possibilities.

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I’m a dog musher and a writer. I don’t make a living as a dog musher, yet, although I hope to one day. However, I do make a living as a writer and editor. I use the money I make from one passion to pay for the other. And I hope that one day I will be able to gain enough sponsorship and race winnings to let dog mushing pay for itself.

1. Talk up your passion

If you let others know what your passion is, you will have a hard time hiding from it. Find occasions to make presentations about your passion. Are you a nature photographer? Maybe you could hold a class at the local library. Do you love to write? Start a writers’ group. Getting involved with other people who also love your passion is important for making us feel like it’s a worthwhile pursuit. I never feel better about the hours and days I spend alone on the trail with my dogs than when I’m at a symposium or race with other crazy dog mushing people who understand my obsession.

2. Be obsessed

I’ve been obsessed with dogsledding for about 20 years now. I read about it, think about it and do it all the time. In the summer when we can’t run sleds, I run my dogs on a bike. In the fall, we train on a four-wheeler. When I’m not writing fun articles like this one, I am usually writing or reading about dogsledding. Since my first ride in 1994, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it…even during the times when I didn’t have a team and pursued other goals. Likewise, when I decided to become a writer, I was obsessed with publishing books. Accomplishing that goal and being published by a ‘big’ publisher was a dream come true. Following these passions and being obsessed with them has helped me accomplish the things I want to accomplish. Obsessions can be good — as long as you don’t ignore your kids or partner along the way.

3. Do it for love

You might not be able to support yourself with your passion, at least not in the beginning. And that’s OK. Do what you love for the love of it. Don’t worry about the money. While it’s true that the money will often follow, you will need to do something to pay the bills in the meantime. Try and find a job doing something close to what you love. I’ve worked in veterinarian’s offices, walked dogs and done other things just to make a living doing something ‘doggy.’ In fact, I’ve even baked dog treats for farmers markets and made collars and that sort of thing, just so I could talk dogs and make some money at the same time.

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4. Keep hope alive

OK, this sounds cheesy, I know. But even during my darkest, non-dog-owning days, I always had a glimmer of hope that I could run dogs again one day. This helped me get through some really long days and even helped me sleep at night. If you can’t follow your passion right now, for whatever reason, don’t give up hope. Do the little things — visit related websites of people who are doing it, keep learning by reading books or taking classes in your passion’s field.

5. Easy doesn’t do it

Easy is getting a job at the ice cream shop in town. Becoming a professional golfer is hard. Really hard. If your passion — your true passion — is how you want to spend your days, then that’s how you need to spend your days. There is an old saying, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.” If you truly love something, then doing the hard work — even the little tedious things — doesn’t really seem that hard.

6. Face the odds

I have many people in my life who are fond of telling me that the odds that I’ll win a sled dog race someday are pretty small. These are usually the same people who told me that the odds I could get my first book published by a ‘big’ publisher were pretty small. I smiled pretty big when my first book was published by Viking and had many reviews, including one in the Sunday New York Times Book Review. Don’t ever let anyone tell you the odds are against you — or if you’re like me, if they do, you’ll just want to make it even more.

7. Make it profitable

If you really want to make a living from your passion, then you need to find a way to make it profitable. More people than you think actually do this. Bakers, cake decorators, writers, photographers, all make a living doing something about which they are passionate. Or, maybe, you can support one passion for another, as I do. If you’re true passion is expedition kayaking, you might not be able to make that pay — but writing books and blogging about expedition kayaking might just work.

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8. Cultivate passion

Maybe you don’t have a passion. Or maybe you really enjoy reading anime. Being passionate about something doesn’t mean it has to fall to you from the sky. You can seize opportunity and cultivate a passion too. Maybe you’ve noticed a need for a certain app in your life. Cultivate that passion by learning how to create the app and promote it. Sometimes hobbies should stay hobbies, but you can take a passion for something and let it lead you to something great.

According to Newport, “Steve Jobs, in his famous Stanford Commencement address, told the students (and I’m paraphrasing here): You’ve got to find what you love, don’t settle.

“If you read the press and social media that surrounded the event, it’s clear that many people interpreted this as him saying, ‘follow your passion.’ If you go back into the details of his biography, however, you discover this is not what he did. He stumbled into Apple computer (it was a scheme to make a quick $1,000) at a time when he was ‘passionate’ mainly about eastern mysticism.

But Jobs was open to opportunity. When he sensed that his scheme was bigger than he imagined, he pivoted and poured a lot of energy into building a company around selling computers. He cultivated passion. He didn’t follow it.”

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9. Don’t lose steam

It happens. You start out really enthusiastic for a project and then, over time, you lose interest or excitement. Sometimes this is an indication that it’s not really what you’re meant to do. On the other hand, sometimes, you just have to keep plowing forward, even through the tedious times. Even the most exciting jobs and passions, like dog mushing or writing, have tedious times. I know when I’m writing that if I start to bore myself with what I’m writing, then it’s time to take a break. I also know that there are some mornings when the sheer effort involved in hooking up 12 or 14 dogs and going for a 40 mile run just seems exhausting. I have to, in those moments, put one foot in front of the other and get things done. Usually, after all of the tedium of hooking up and packing up is done and we are on our way, I find my joy again.

10. Get to work

It almost seems counterintuitive, but your passion or the thing that you love doing, should drive you to work hard for it. No one is going to pay you to sit on your couch and watch TV. If that’s your passion, you might need to cultivate a new one. Sometimes, finding a passion is not the same as finding passion — or joy — in our work. No job is perfect. But if you ask most people who enter one field or another, you’ll likely find that there are aspects of a job that they enjoy. A plumber might enjoy working alone, solving problems and working with his or her hands. It is doubtful that your plumber will say they have a passion for plumbing. But it’s likely there are things in the job that bring joy. Sometimes, that can be good enough.

More by this author

Michelle Kennedy Hogan

Michelle is an explorer, editor, author of 15 books, and mom of eight.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

Reference

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