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Why Following Your Passion Might Be Bad Advice

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We’ve all heard it a thousand times, if you want to be happy in life, follow your passion. Let’s look closer at this advice. The word passion comes from the Latin root word patior, which means “to suffer.” So, when someone tells you to follow your passion, they’re saying you should do something for which you are willing to suffer.

That’s not how passion is used in today’s entrepreneurial landscape. It’s been hijacked and saddled with a new meaning tied to a financial outcome. Frankly, passion has nothing to do with earning a 10x return or building a seven-figure business. That garbage is used to peddle books and programs—it’s not truth.

Here’s the question to ask yourself to see if you’re passionate about what you’re doing: Am I willing to put in the work and never see the fruit? If the answer is no, I hate to break it to you, but that’s not your passion. 

Fear not, though. In this article, I’ll lay out an alternate starting point for whatever it is you want to achieve in life. That said, I don’t want to ignore passion, so let’s first walk down the path of following your passion to see where you might end up.

The Side Hustle Culture

Let’s start with a simple question: Why has “follow your passion” become such a popular mantra in recent years? Part of it is the misconception I mentioned that riches will come if you pursue your passion, but the other piece is employee disengagement. 

Worldwide, we’re showing up to work totally checked out. A Gallup study revealed that 85% of employees are not engaged at work, costing us $7 trillion annually in lost productivity. That’s more than the GDP of all but two countries (US and China).

If you’re showing up to a place you hate every day, one where your gifts, abilities, and potential aren’t being realized, of course you’re going to pursue your passion by starting a side hustle. It’s estimated that 37% of Americans have done just that.

Where Your Passion Might Lead

Side hustles don’t just represent extra income—they represent freedom; the chance to break away from a hated job and pursue a passion full-time. So, let’s say you do that. Statistics paint a grim picture for your chances of long-term success. According to the Small Business Administration, about half of new businesses make it past five years.

If you’ve tethered your identity to the twisted definition of passion that equates success with a certain outcome, your self-worth will take a big hit. You might see yourself as a failure, which isn’t true, but that won’t stop those thoughts from entering your mind. Instead of attaching your identity to your passion, let me suggest a different approach.

“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” – Sheryl Sandberg

Find Your Worth Before Your “Why”

What Simon Sinek talked about in his book “Start with Why” is spot on. Before looking at the “what,” you need to figure out the “why.” But there’s a crucial step before that: You must first see yourself as worthy of having a “why.” If your self-worth has cratered after you followed your passion and failed, you might not feel very worthy. That’s why I suggest beginning here and not deferring it to the future.

Let’s keep digging. In order to see yourself as worthy, you need to answer the question: Who am I? Only once you know yourself can you see the worthiness inside you. When I set out to answer that question myself, here were three things that helped:

  • Doing something challenging
  • Making time for reflection and visualization
  • Creating “I am” statements: I am _________________

Let’s walk through each of these steps in a little more detail.

Take Steps to Discover Who You Are

The first step in finding out who you are is doing something challenging. For me, that was CrossFit. I believe that when you do something physically challenging, it opens up the possibility that you can accomplish something mentally challenging, too.

We’re building what Dr. Albert Bandura called “self-efficacy” which is our belief in our own abilities to succeed in challenging situations or accomplish a difficult task. When I do an intense workout and don’t die, it builds my confidence that I can do other difficult things, too.

However, I can’t tap into that belief if I don’t take time to reflect on it. That’s why, after you do something challenging (it doesn’t have to be exercise), you must make time to be silent and visualize yourself achieving something difficult in the future. By doing this, you’re acknowledging and reinforcing the idea that you’re effective and capable.

From there, I find tremendous value in writing “I am” statements such as this one: I am capable of doing hard things.

When you do something challenging, you’re working through the progression that ends here. You move from “I think I can” to “I know I can” to “I can” and finally “I did.” By reflecting on your thoughts, you can recognize this progression, and by verbalizing it with an “I am” statement, you’re making a clear declaration about your identity.

“The man who achieves makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all – doing nothing.” – Benjamin Franklin

Using Your Gifts to Serve Others

I can say with confidence that these three steps will help you discover who you are, why you’re worthy, and what your “why” is because it worked for me. About a decade ago I was nearly broke, had to short sell our first home, and was diagnosed with postpartum depression after the birth of our fourth child (and my wife was the one who did all the heavy lifting there). In every way, I saw myself as a failure.

As I worked through this process, I discovered new things about myself, rebuilt my self-worth, and found a new “why” which turned out to be helping people find the truth that dwells within them. Now, I’m fueled by passion because I’m rooted in purpose. Instead of focusing on an outcome, I’m focused on using my gifts to help as many people as I can. If you ask me, I’m willing to suffer for that.

What are your thoughts on the above article? Do you agree with the author or not? Share your thoughts and ideas with us below!

Mike Flynn has been advising individuals, as well as executives of companies large and small since 2005. In 2015, he launched a podcast called “The Impact Entrepreneur Show”. Since then, he has had nearly 200 one-on-one conversations with some of the world’s most elite athletes, thinkers and entrepreneurs in an effort to discover how they are using their personal stories to have a game changing impact in the lives of others. For more advice on uncovering who you are, check out Master the Key on Amazon.

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How Your Psychological Blind Spots Keep You Stuck in Life

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Sometimes, life doesn’t seem to make any sense. Albert Einstein once said “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Here’s the funny thing. We will say that line about someone else, have a good chuckle, and then DO THE SAME THING OURSELVES! This time, it’s not that funny, is it? I know. I’ve done it myself. (more…)

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3 Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself and Live an Optimized Life

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The secret to happiness lies in the way you live your life. People think of happiness as some destination they’ll reach when they’ve accomplished the hundred things on their life to-do list. Happiness is often associated with money, material possessions, or even great relationships. (more…)

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These 7 Daily Resolutions Can Change Your Life

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We all strive to be better every day. Most of us want a new day to bring something new, and we plan for it as well. Of course, the execution is debatable as procrastination is real and it becomes an overwhelming feeling at times. Also, not to forget the customary practice of making resolutions on new year’s eve!  All of us are fascinated by the thought of preparing long lists of resolves to mark the beginning of a new year. Not sure how many people are able to translate these resolutions into functional realities. (more…)

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4 Reasons Why Content Is Pivotal For Mental Health Healing

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One of the most important things for an entrepreneur’s mental health is expressing their feelings, thoughts, and emotions. This is where content creation and writing becomes pivotal. Whether you read something that resonates with you or you write a compelling blog post, the act of expressing yourself through content can help to put a smile on your face and make you feel better about things.

Most entrepreneurs don’t spend as much time taking care of their mental health as they should. Over the course of your career, you will experience a lot of ups and downs; these emotions have the potential to take a toll on your mind and body if you don’t learn to manage them properly.

Here are four reasons why expression through content is pivotal for healing, slowing yourself down, and giving yourself grace when the going gets tough.

1. Content can be a form of self-expression

When you are an entrepreneur, you frequently face feelings of insecurity, doubt, fear, apathy, and exhaustion, just to name a few. Some days it feels like no one is on your business’s side and everyone else has it all figured out. On those days some of us try to look at our website’s analytics to cheer up. 

But an even more freeing task is creating content. You create content to improve your business and reach more people’s lives. But, there is something special that happens when you write with the intention of expressing your thoughts and feelings — you open a door to yourself. 

Content is inherently personal, which means content creators open themselves up when they share their thoughts on a platform. Everything from the title of the post, the keywords they choose to include, and even the content itself helps you to understand who the author of that post truly is. And as an entrepreneur, this can be an important experience because it allows others to empathize with you.

2. Self-reflection will lift you up

As you think through what to write about and how to express yourself, the process of self reflection is a valuable step you need to go through. You’re able to reflect on the blessings you have, assess what you learned from the negative experiences, and create a plan on how to maintain the positive experiences you’ve had. 

There are a few ways that self reflection can help you with mental health healing. The act of reflecting on your experiences helps to create clarity in feelings, thoughts and emotions which will eventually lead into acceptance for what has happened or is happening currently without feeling overwhelmed by it all. This process also leads people towards finding new things they enjoy doing. Self reflection is therapeutic and can be implemented anytime you feel the need to overcome overwhelm.

“Writing in a journal each day allows you to direct your focus to what you accomplished, what you’re grateful for and what you’re committed to doing better tomorrow. Thus, you more deeply enjoy your journey each day.” – Hal Elrod

3. A sense of belonging and camaraderie

It is important to have a support network of people who will listen and understand what you are going through. When you post a blog or upload a video on YouTube, there are others who feel the same way and experience a sense of connection with you.

When you put time, attention and thoughtfulness into your writing, it is amazing when someone reads what you’ve written and comments on it thanking you or expressing how they resonate with what you’re going through. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it feels when someone who has gone through the same experience and reads your words then reaches out.  There is power in expression but miracles happen when people bond over a similar experience.

4. Library of content to share with more people

It can be very difficult to know what content to share with people as the symptoms of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.) vary from person to person. But as you accumulate more and more content, this will increase the number of articles or videos available for readers to choose from depending on their specific purpose. It also builds your personal library of resources you’re able to share to different people you encounter or engage directly with.

As chaotic and distracting social media can be, it can also be a beacon of hope with the right content. Many people share viral posts, or content that interest them. Since your content is valuable and personal, the more you share it, the more likely it is to be shared with the right audience.

You never know who is watching (reading)

Your content is speaking to someone and even though they may not be actively engaged, their experiences with your work are impacting them. Think about the last time you watched TV: did everyone in the room have something entertaining to say? 

You never know who’s watching because there’s always somebody reading your posts or viewing your videos-even if they just skim through it briefly. This is why creating content worth consuming is critical, not only to get you out of your funk, but also to serve your audience.  Be authentic and stay true to yourself; make every post count as an opportunity for connection with your best self and for potential readers to bond with you.

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