"Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion."
Passion is a personal thing, a journey you're on that consists of you and what you really, truly love. Passion is what makes you smile, what makes you jump for joy, what consumes your thoughts and finds it's way into your conversations without you even realizing it. It's something that means something to you, something that you cannot live without. You can be passionate about things, actions, people. You can be passionate about feelings and abstract concepts. You can be passionate about just about anything. Some people, as you've probably noticed, are more passionate than others. Some people put their whole hearts and souls into the things they care about and give 110% to things that matter to them. It's those people that I want to be like. It's those people that inspire me to pursue my passions and do what makes me truly happy.
What are you passionate about? That's the question I asked myself when I began writing this post. After all, I couldn't very well write about being passionate without first thinking about what I'm passionate about. Honestly, I'm passionate about a lot of things. I'm passionate about the people who mean a lot to me. I'm passionate about certain issues, such as gender equality and animal rights. I'm passionate about things that fascinate and intrigue me, like books and films and art. But one of the things that stands out most in my mind when I hear the word passion is writing. I love to write. I do it as often as I can and, man, do I enjoy it. At home, my shelves are stacked high with journals and spiral-bound notebooks. My computer is bursting with stories and poems and little snippets of ideas.
Since I've started this blog, I've spent a significant amount of time writing online -- something I've discovered that I love to do. I used to love to write in my journal, to vent all of my feelings onto those blank white pages, but I've come to realize that I'm just as passionate about sharing my writing as I am about actually writing it. I used to be terrified to share anything I'd written, but the older I get, the more I want to share my words with whoever is willing to read them. It's a passion that both excites and terrifies me because I've never been much of an open person. I used to keep my childhood journals under lock and key, hiding them from my family and sometimes even sleeping with them underneath my pillow. I still have passwords of all kinds on my computer, annoying friends and family who will occasionally try to use the computer only to discover it's been locked. I'm still scared, in many ways, about putting myself fully out there, but day by day I'm getting better at letting go and really exploring my passion for writing in a more public way.
Passions aren't always easy. We may feel strongly about something, love it with all of our might, but that doesn't mean it's going to come easily to us. Some of the very best things in life take a lot of hard work and dedication. Some of the very best things in life requiring being brave and pushing ourselves beyond boundaries. For me, my passion is writing. It's the one thing I've always loved and the one thing I probably will always continue to do throughout my life. As much as I love it, it's not always easy to do and it's definitely not always easy to share it with others. Today I'm going to spend a little time talking about how I work to cultivate my passion -- and how you can too. No matter what you love to do, if you want to do it to the best of your ability you have to work on it. You have to push yourself and explore new things and challenge yourself. Here are my suggestions for how you can make the most of your life's passion:
How To Cultivate Your Passion
Narrow your vision. If you're anything like me, you can get excited about something and want to take every little bit of it in. When I think about writing, for example, I get very excited. I want to write a book, want to write poems, want to write blogs and articles and journal entries. I want to do it all. It's a great feeling to be that into something and to really want to dive in, but one of the best pieces of advice I can offer regarding cultivating your passion is this: narrow your focus. It can be so tempting to try to do everything and anything associated with what you love, but if you do that you'll find yourself overwhelmed and probably not doing much of anything. Start small. Figure out what you're most interested in and zero in on that. In the future, you can always expand your vision, but start off narrow for the best results. Focus is so important and it can really slip away from you when you get excited about something. If you feel completely overwhelmed and don't know where to start, make a list of the things you love about your passion and rank the items. You'll quickly discover what matters most to you and you can then take that information and focus on it.
Integrate it into your life.Passionate about something? Don't leave it in a corner of your house or apartment and hide it from the world. I used to say I was a writer because I was sitting at home in my apartment typing away on my computer. Yes, I was a writer, but I was a writer in hiding. I wanted to live this totally different life -- a positive life -- and yet I would sit alone and write most of the time. I still do this today, but I also work hard to share what I write with the world. I'm blogging three days a week. I'm writing guest posts for others' sites. I'm online on social media sites trying to get the word out about what I'm writing about. I'm telling friends and family about my blogs. It can be hard work (and, in my case, pretty intimidating) to share what you're passionate about with others, but the more you share and put yourself out there, the more opportunities you'll have to make your passion a big part of your life.
Work as hard as you can. Just as nothing great was ever accomplished without passion, nothing great was ever accomplished without hard work. If you love something, you have to work at it. You have to do it as often as you can and in as many different ways as you can (without broadening your focus too much). As much as hard work can be daunting sometimes, if you really feel passionate about something, all of the work you put into it will be worth it. For example, it takes a lot of time for me to write my blog posts and respond to comments and emails, etc. A lot of time. This sometimes takes away from other things I could be doing, like hanging out with friends or just laying around with a great book. Sometimes it's hard to put in the work, even when I love doing it. But you know what? At the end of the day, it really is worth it. When I get an email in my in-box from someone telling me that I've changed his or her life, I cannot help but be filled with happiness and pride. Nothing can compare with that feeling and it makes every hour of hard work worth it.
Make it tons of fun. Sometimes when people are passionate about something, they become so focused on it that they lose sight of the fun of it all. It can be easy to forget that something is actually a lot of fun if you find yourself so engrossed in it that you can think of little else. Take a step back from your passion and figure out how you can make it fun. If you become too focused, you may forget what it was that really inspired you in the first place. You love your passion for a reason and whatever it is that you feel passionate about, there has to be a way to make it fun. You have to be a little creative in some cases, but there is always a way to make something you love to do even more enjoyable. One idea would be to figure out a way to include others in your passion. Whatever you love, there are probably others out there that love it too. Find them and start a group or club. Or, even if you don't have people around you who love what you love, find a way to share it with them in a way that they can enjoy.
Be innovative and creative. As you're spending time on what you feel passionate about, remember two things: innovation and creation. You already have the drive and desire to talk about, think about, and work on your passion. Now you need to take it to the next level. You need to be creative and innovative. You need to think about how you can push yourself out of you comfort zone and try new things. You don't need to reinvent the wheel here. You just need to find some way to do things differently -- and that may mean differently for you. For example, I've always been interested in writing. I've done it every day for as long as I can remember. But one day I decided I was going to share it. It wasn't the most mind-blowing discovery and it probably didn't mean all that much to the few early readers of my blog, but to me it was HUGE. It was life-changing. It caused me to break out of my routines and to push myself way out of my comfort zone. It was challenging and it was (and is!) still scary, but it's been worth it. It's made me better at what I love to do and, importantly, it's held me accountable for what I do. I know there are people out there reading and that makes me want to work harder and be more creative than I would be if I were still hiding amid the documents on my computer. You can find ways to break out of your own mold. It doesn't have to be some crazy never-done-before thing. All it needs to be is something that challenges you and helps you become even more passionate about what you love.
Share your ideas with others. Tying in with my example above, you should know that it's really important to share what you love with others. It may be hard to do (plenty of people have quirky things they're passionate about or, like me, have some trust issues that prevent them from really wanting to share their work), but it's one of the best ways you can cultivate your passion. When I first started blogging, I was scared that no one would want to read my blog or, worse, people would read it and hate it. I never imagined I'd have the kind of positive feedback that I get constantly. I never imagined that some of the people who were reading my blog would become some of the most important people in my life. In so many ways, this blog has changed my life and if I hadn't taken a leap of faith and put myself out there, I never would have experienced some of the great things I have over the past year. It still scares me to death sometimes when I think about people reading my posts, but I do it anyway. I push myself to be better than I think I can be, even when I'm scared. And you know what? It feels good. It feels good to break out of my comfort zone and to be rewarded with such inspiring feedback. It feels good to share my thoughts with my readers and to know that somewhere out there people are reading and caring about what I have to say. You may not want to share your passion, but it's a great way to make the most of what you love.
Give yourself a break. Now, as much as I love to write and pretty much want to be doing it all the time, one of the best ways I've found to making the most of my passion is to take a break from it. When I first started blogging, I was online 7 days a week, blogging a new post almost every day. I was super into it and super excited about it and as the number of readers grew, so did the pressure. I felt like I had to post all of the time and I was overwhelmed. And then I realized that I needed a break. I created a new schedule so I was posting only three days a week and instantly I felt more relaxed and more able to really enjoy writing (instead of feeling pressured into it). Keep this in mind as your exploring your passion. As much as it means to you, you don't have to be doing it 24/7. You can take a break. You can take lots of breaks, in fact. And, honestly, it's important that you do so. It can be tempting to work nonstop on something you're into, but one of the best ways to make the most of your passion is to give yourself a breather and take a step back every once and awhile. You'll return refreshed and even more excited about what you love to do.
In general, passion is something I feel passionate about. I believe everyone should have something that makes them so excited that they can't wait to do it or talk about it or share it with others. A lot of people don't have this -- but that doesn't mean they can't. I really do believe that almost everyone has something he or she is passionate about it. It's just a matter of figuring out what that thing is. One you've figured it out (and you may already know), use the ideas above to help take your passion to the next level. One step at a time, you can travel down the road of passion and bring yourself that much closer to what you love to do.
[Note: Today's post is part of Random Acts of Kick Arse (RAOKA), a group I'm very fortunate to be a part of. The group joins together every month to take part in committing random acts. Each month we have a different theme and for the month of February the theme was "passion." Check out the other members of the group here: Jungle of Life, Jane Be Nimble, Gazehound's Animal Communications, Positive Provocations, and Life, Laughs & Lemmings.]