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How to Find Your Passion

How to Find Your Passion

If you could do one thing to transform your life, I would highly recommend it be to find something you’re passionate about, and do it for a living.

Now, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it’s well worth the effort. If you dread going to your job, or find yourself constantly lacking motivation, or find what you’re doing dull and repetitive, you need to start looking for a new job. Staying in your current job will not only continue to make you unhappy, but you are not realizing your full potential in life.

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Imagine this instead: you get up early, jumping out of bed, excited to go to work. You might put in more hours than the average person, but it doesn’t seem difficult to you, because your work hours just zoom right by. You are often in that state of mind often referred to as “flow,” where you can lose track of the world and time, losing yourself in the task at hand. Work is not work as many people refer to it, but something that is fun and interesting and exciting. It’s not a “job” but a passion.

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If you’ve got a job you dislike, or even hate, this will sound like a pipe dream to you. And if you never put in the effort to find what you’re passionate about, you’re right: such a thing will never be possible. But dare to dream, dare to imagine the possibilities, and dare to actually search for what you love, and it is not only a possibility, but a probability.

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How can you find what you’re passionate about? Here are some suggestions:

  • Is there something you already love doing? Do you have a hobby, or something you loved doing as a child, but never considered it as a possibility? Whether it’s reading comic books, collecting something, making something, creating or building, there is probably a way you could do it for a living. Open a comic book shop, or create a comic book site online. If there’s already something you love doing, you’re ahead of the game. Now you just need to research the possibilities of making money from it.
  • What do you spend hours reading about? For myself, when I get passionate about something, I’ll read about it for hours on end. I’ll buy books and magazines. I’ll spend days on the Internet finding out more. There may be a few possibilities here for you … and all of them are possible career paths. Don’t close your mind to these topics. Look into them.
  • Brainstorm. Nothing comes to mind right away? Well, get out a sheet of paper, and start writing down ideas. Anything that comes to mind, write it down. Look around your house, on your computer, on your bookshelf, for inspirations, and just write them down. There are no bad ideas at this stage. Write everything down, and evaluate them later.
  • Ask around, and surf for possibilities. Ask other people for ideas. See what others have discovered as their passions. Look all over the Internet for ideas. The more possibilities you find, the more likely your chances of finding your true passion.
  • Don’t quit your job just yet. If you find your calling, your passion, don’t just turn in your resignation tomorrow. It’s best to stay in your job while you’re researching the possibilities. If you can do your passion as a side job, and build up the income for a few months or a year, that’s even better. It gives you a chance to build up some savings (and if you’re going into business for yourself, you’ll need that cash reserve), while practicing the skills you need. See below for more.
  • Give it a try first. It’s best to actually test your new idea before jumping into it as a career. Do it as a hobby or side job at first, so that you can see if it’s really your true calling. You may be passionate about it for a few days, but where the rubber meets the road is whether you’re passionate about it for at least a few months. If you pass this test, you have probably found it.
  • Do as much research as possible. Know as much about your passion as possible. If this has been a passion for awhile, you may have already been doing this. At any rate, do even more research. Read every website possible on the topic, and buy the best books available. Find other people, either in your area or on the Internet, who do what you want to do for a living, and quiz them about the profession. How much do they make? What training and education did they need? What skills are necessary? How did they get their start? What recommendations do they have. Often you’ll find that people are more than willing to give advice.
  • Practice, and practice, and practice some more. Don’t go into it with amateur skill level. If you want to make money — to be a professional — you need to have professional skills. Get very good at your future career and you will make money at it. Practice for hours on end. If it’s something you love, the practice should be something you want to do.
  • Never quit trying. Can’t find your passion at first? Give up after a few days and you’re sure to fail. Keep trying, for months on end if necessary, and you’ll find it eventually. Thought you found your passion but you got tired of it? No problem! Start over again and find a new passion. There may be more than one passion in your lifetime, so explore all the possibilities. Found your passion but haven’t been successful making a living at it? Don’t give up. Keep trying, and try again, until you succeed. Success doesn’t come easy, so giving up early is a sure way to fail. Keep trying, and you’ll get there.

What I’ve outlined here is a lot of work … but it will be the best investment you’ve ever made. Follow your passion, and you will be truly happy and incredibly fulfilled. I wish you the wildest successes of your wildest dreams!

Leo Babauta is a writer, a marathoner, an early riser, a vegan, and a father of six. He blogs regularly about achieving goals through daily habits on Zen Habits, and covers such topics as productivity, GTD, simplifying, frugality, parenting, happiness, motivation, exercise, eating healthy and more.

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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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