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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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A Simple but Effective Technique to Be More Confident

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The 3 Most Important Things I Learned About Personal Growth

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When you look back on your life, what do you want to think about? Do you plan to reminisce on all of the good things that have happened and how they shaped who you are today? Or would you rather remember all of the bad decisions, challenging experiences, and mistakes made that hurt or wasted a portion of your life?

In my opinion, I think it is important to reflect on both. While it’s important to remember the hardships we’ve been through in our lives – without them we wouldn’t be where we are now. There are 3 very specific areas that I feel have helped me grow in a personal sense more than anything else in my life so far. 

These aren’t simple lessons in a book or a lecture that you can just absorb and apply to your life. These are things that I’ve learned through experience and reflection, and I’m still learning and growing today.

1. We determine how much we’re worth by what we think about ourselves, others, and life in general.

This might seem like a pretty obvious lesson in life but it’s actually one of the most important because we can determine our own worth by how we think about ourselves and the world around us. If you’re looking for success in any kind of business or social setting (dating), then I’ll tell you right now that it doesn’t matter if you have 10 billion dollars or not – people are still going to judge you based on your thoughts and beliefs alone.

What determines our value isn’t necessarily what we do with our lives (which is often based on luck) but whether or not we believe that ‘our work’ is worthy or not in some sort of grand scheme or universe. We may not always be able to control what happens in our lives, but we can always control how we value ourselves and others.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

2. You don’t have to change your habits or personality just because someone else doesn’t like it – their opinions are THEIRS alone.

This is another one of those lessons that people tend to pick up on a little bit late in life, but if anything that makes its importance even worse! Basically, there’s going to come a time when you’re going to meet someone who has certain expectations of you as a person…but these expectations might not be realistic due to their motivations and personal beliefs. For example, sometimes parents might expect you to be a lawyer or doctor because that’s what they believe is best for their child.

However, this isn’t the case for everyone and so maybe your passion lies in music or writing novels. In this example, if you were also pressured into becoming a doctor – then there would obviously be some kind of conflict going on within yourself as a person. You should never have to give up something that you want to do just because someone else doesn’t like it! The reason why we’re put onto this Earth is to make our own choices and go after our OWN dreams instead of letting others determine what we can and cannot do with our lives .

3. You can’t change your life until you accept that you need to make a change.

When I was younger, I thought that this lesson would be pretty obvious – but as I got older, it really made me appreciate the fact that there are always different ways of perceiving our lives. For example, if someone wants to become rich and famous one day – their mind might simply overshadow any other possibility in their head because they feel like this is what they NEED to do right now.

However, this isn’t always true within our own lives because we think about things too literally instead of having an open mind. If you want to achieve success in any kind of business or social setting (dating) then you should be willing to try out different things instead of staying in your comfort zone. If you want something, then it’s up to YOU to actually go after it – nobody else is going to give it to you!

The three lessons above are some of the main things I want to pass on to everyone because they’ve come at an important time in my life where I need to start thinking about others instead of only myself. It’s great if we can learn to love ourselves first before anything else, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect everyone around you even though they might be your friends and family members!

If you enjoyed this article on the 3 most important things I learned about personal growth, then please share it with your friends and family! Also, check out my other articles on success & motivation as well as life lessons that could help people who are struggling with their life right now on lifengoal.com. Thanks for reading!

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