Tuesday 12 January 2016

Finding your passion

aka. What are you willing to get up at 4am for?

The other day I set my alarm for 4am, even though I didn't have to. If you think I'm a) an insomniac, b) one of those chipper morning people, or c) had gone to bed 12 hours before and was fully rested, you are wrong on all accounts. I would have loved to sleep longer. My body begged me to stay in my cozy and warm bed for another hour, because that's when I had to get up. Even my mind protested for the first couple of foggy minutes, not remembering why I had set my alarm for this ungodly hour.

But then I remembered. And suddenly, I didn't mind getting my butt out of bed this early. Why?
I'm glad you asked.
I had a very important date to keep with someone worth getting up early for.

My passion.

Would you have asked me three years ago what my passion is, I wouldn't have had an answer for you. There was certainly nothing important enough for me that I would have willingly gotten up at 4 in the morning for.
Which is actually a great indicator of how serious you are about your passion.

We are fond of dreaming of a day in the future where we will do all the things we are too busy for now:
"Once I'm retired, I'm going to travel!", says the person who never even goes away on a short weekend trip.
"When I have more time I will exercise regularly!", says the devoted non-exerciser.
"I will write a novel one day, when the kids are out of the house and life is less crazy!", says the person who hasn't read a book in months because she is "too busy".

I understand where you are coming from, I really do. Life is busy, and there are so many items on our daily to-do lists that have to be ticked off, you know you can't do it all. Putting our dreams and ambitions last seems like the sensible thing to do.
Sensible, maybe - but also soul-crushing.

Getting up in the middle of the night to write for an hour seems brutal, but it's actually a lot of fun. By the time I get to work, I have the delicious feeling of accomplishment under my belt, and that before 7am! It's my little secret that warms me from the inside, and makes the rest of the day so much sweeter.

It took me a while to learn it, but the simple truth is this: Anything you want to get good at requires work.  A shitload of work, to be clear.
The difference between people who become excellent at something and the ones that don't, is the amount of work they put in. This is a truth that's both encouraging and discouraging, don't you think? Encouraging, because it means that with enough practice, we can become decent at whatever it is we want to be good at. Discouraging, because the idea of being a wunderkind with all the talent just waiting to be unleashed is such a delicious fantasy. Wouldn't it be amazing if you are a gifted singer, and you simply haven't found out yet? But one day you will open your mouth and sound just like Adele?

Dream on, sweet one. Sadly - and fortunately - that won't happen. While talent is a great asset to have, it's worth nothing if you are not willing to work hard. On the flip side, dogged determination and dedication will get you much farther than you ever dreamt possible.

If you have ever uttered the words "one day, I will...", I urge you to make today the legendary one day.
There are so many reasons for it, but I have listed the 3 most important ones here:

1. You don't know how much time you have. 
Sounds dire, but it's the truth. We can't count on being around for decades to come, because we don't know if we will. Why wait for something so important? We are talking about your passion here! I have never been a believer of saving new clothes for "special occasions" or using the good china only on holidays. The same applies for your dreams: Go and start working on them now!

2. You may not enjoy your dream as much as you think you will. 
We have two different versions of ourselves in our minds: The person we want to be, and the person we really are. Getting to know ourselves is much harder than you might think. There are characteristics we all have that we wish we didn't, and some we wish we did.
For example, for years I successfully convinced myself that I am a spontaneous and outgoing person. I love these qualities in other people, and I really wanted to have them for myself. So I simply pretended that I do! In reality, I am the opposite of being spontaneous. I always make a plan for each day and hate when it gets interrupted by surprises. The same applies to being outgoing: I may appear outgoing, but I can only manage that with lots of alone time in between to recharge my batteries.

You may think that you would love travelling, because it's widely regarded as a desirable activity to do. But not everybody does, and that's okay. If you'd rather stay at home on your days off to putter in your garden, sew, read, or cook with friends and family, chances are that you may not enjoy going on a world trip once you are retired.
So try it out now! Go away for a weekend, and see if you actually like it or not.

3. You will live life to the fullest.  
Why would you want to wait to do something that will give you joy and happiness? Especially if you are busy, and if life is a neverending to-do list with tasks like paying bills and juggling kids, marriage, a household and work, you deserve to do something just for you.

If you open your mouth in protest, ready to announce that "I don't have time!", let me tell you a secret: You can make time. Even if it means getting up at 4am in the morning. You may think that this sounds horrible, and I'm with you: I hate getting up early too.
But you know what? It's worth it. The pleasure you get of doing something you love is worth the small sacrifice of less sleep. You will feel more alive, happier and richer! Your life will be fuller, more vibrant, more satisfying.

I can't tell you what your passion is. But I have a feeling you already know, deep down. Maybe it's something you enjoyed as a child, and gave up as a teenager or adult?
Maybe it's something a friend is doing, and that sounds so intriguing that you can't stop thinking about it?
Maybe it's something way out of your comfort zone that scares you: doing burlesque, taking tap dance lessons, going to a writing workshop?

Whatever it is, go for it.  

I promise, it is worth it. You are worth it.


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