Pursue your passion. If you’re not, stop doing whatever you’re doing and do it. Now.
Awhile back, I was battling depression and working 9-5, which is when I learned that money can’t buy happiness. On a deeper level, I discovered a need to find my passion in life.
When we’re young, choosing a career is easy. Often, we discover some “new” profession that lights some fire deep within us and we immediately rush to tell our parents of our new dream. Sadly, almost just as often, the parent quashes that dream (depending on the child’s age) with lectures on responsibility, family, and “reality.” Children, or young adults, are often told, “That’s too risky,” or, “You can’t make much money doing that,” or, “You know how unlikely it is that you’ll succeed?” And so, many of these young people leave the conversation defeated, and reluctant to pursue their dreams. If they have this conversation a lot, it becomes so ingrained in them that they lose their confidence to pursue their passion even after they leave the confines of their parents’ home.
After finding my passion for music and acting, I told my wife about my dreams, and how I wanted to pursue them vigorously. She was, and still is, extremely supportive. At the same time, those same notions of it being too risky and not financially stable also cropped up many times. I had many conversations with her about the pursuit of our passions in life, and how those pursuits are what make life worth living. In the end, I believe I swayed her, and a couple of points I made stand out in particular.
The Big Picture – No Regrets
First, I appealed to her sense of the “big picture.” Imagine yourself at the end of your life, looking back. Imagine also that you found something you were truly passionate about and loved doing. At the end of your life, do you really want to ask yourself, “I wonder what might have been?,” or thinking, “if only I had tried …” Are you really OK with giving up on your dreams without even trying?
Personally, when I look back on my life (hopefully many, many years from now), I want to admire the chances I took, and feel proud that I went after my dreams. Fail or not, I refuse to give up without trying. For me it goes even further than that. When it comes to my dreams, I will pursue them with passion and vigour and will never quit. Period.
I Will Set An Example I Am Proud Of
This determination I describe leads into the next point I made to my wife. When my child tells me about his dreams and passions, I want to tell him to “go for it!” with real enthusiasm, and I want him to know that my enthusiasm comes from personal experience I want to set an example for him that everyone should follow their dreams, and that if you are determined and persevere, you will accomplish your goals. ”Do as I say, not as I do,” does not appeal to me at all. I will set an example for my son.
This is not to say that I pursue my dreams for external reasons: some notion of an end-of-life scenario, or setting an example for my son. Make no mistake, I do it for myself. If my reasons help you to start pursuing your dreams, I think that is amazing. Just make sure you are doing it for you, and only you.
Motivation to Pursue Your Passion
This topic also reminds me of a TED talk that circulated my circle of friends in January 2012. It was given by a great lecturer, Larry Smith, who often teaches economics at the University of Waterloo. He is an amazing speaker. His talk is titled “Why you will fail to have a great career.” It’s a hilariously funny and very blunt talk. He talks about the absurd excuses people invent when they fail to pursue their passions. I’ve embedded the video at the end of this article. It is extremely inspirational and I can’t recommend it enough.
Fear Not Failure, For it Teaches How Not to Succeed
Larry Smith points out that most people don’t pursue their passion because they are afraid. They fear failure. To that point, I would add that you are bound to fail on your road to success. Many times, in fact. The trick is not letting that discourage you, and to persevere. And don’t think that you need to get lucky to succeed. As they say, talent + perseverance = luck.
Another typical excuse that people use is they want to focus on friends, family and being a great wife/mother/husband/father. Imagine, again, that your child comes to you and wants to be an actor. You, having not pursued your dream, remind him of the risk, financial aspect, etc. You tell him, “When I was young, I had a dream too, but …” But, what? What do you tell your child? You could say, “But, then you were born.” Larry Smith asks the question, “Do you think it’s actually appropriate that you take children and use them as a shield?” Truthfully, you should say, “But, I was too scared.”
Pursuing your dreams and being a great partner and parent can be one in the same. How great a partner and parent can you be if you see your child and spouse as an obstacle that stopped you from achieving your innermost desires?
Don’t wait any longer. Don’t make any more excuses. Pursue your passion!
(Photo credit: Thomas Hawk)
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