5 steps to living your passion today
Many of us stay awake at night figuring out how to quit our day job so that we can finally live our passion.
But your passion is available to you now. And you have full permission to start. You just have to change your mindset on what living your passion means.
Does someone have to pay you? Nope. No one’s been paying me for the past nine years that I’ve been writing. Since 2006, I’ve probably written hundreds of blog posts. Do I care that I wrote them all for free? Not a bit. Writing is what I love to do. Whether I get paid one cent, one million, or nothing, I will write because writing makes me feel alive.
I no longer stress about trying to find a job that allows me to write about the subjects that interest me. I just forge ahead myself. If someone comes along and wants to pay me, then that’s great. But it won’t change the fact that I’ve been happily doing this for free for nine years and will keep writing for free.
Sure there’s a plan in the works to release my first book. But I’m not going to fret over trying to make that into a career. I’m going to do what I love, do my best to partner with people and spread it, and then just keep living life. If it turns into something more, then that’s great, but I’m not betting my life on it.
I love the story of Dana Gioia, an internationally acclaimed poet who spent most of his working life managing a grocery store and writing poetry at night. He didn’t quit his job, he just made it a point to write often. I was at a talk of his when he said something I’ll never forget: “I decided to make my life about three things: my job, my writing, and my family. So every night, I would go home after work, and I would choose to write. I wouldn’t watch TV or anything like that, but I did what I wanted to make my life about. I think that’s the only way to live. To not do what is nice (TV, etc) but what you really want to do.”
I want more people to be doing things that matter without worrying about whether someone will pay them or not. You don’t have to quit your job to make stuff happen, you don’t have to drop out of college to do things that matter…you just have to quit other things in your life that don’t matter as much. Add the important things into the fabric of your life and begin to feel alive.
So how do you start if you don’t know where to begin? Here’s a simple little roadmap that might help you.
1. Ask God. Getting things done is useless until you start doing God’s work for your life. Efficiency in the wrong things is foolish. Matt Perman has some great thoughts on this in his book What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. Get clear, above all, about what God has for you, because without this, you’ll just burn rubber. Pray not once about your life’s calling, but regularly. Why? Because calling is like a seed that grows into a tree: it’s something that’s revealed over time, not all at once.
2. Ask the others. Find honest people who will tell you the truth about your work and about who you are. When the confirmation of your gifting comes from those you trust, it’s extremely clarifying. Last week, I got to ask John Townsend how he aligned his personal funnel (Mission, Vision, Values, Goals, Strategy, Tactics, Behaviors) with his company’s funnel. In other words, how did he go about finding his life’s calling and then match it up with the work he does every day? Here’s what he said: “I took lots of bold risks: I tried a lot of things that failed. I also told others to be totally raw and honest with me when giving feedback on my work.”
3. Make time. Weavewriter was the program that catalyzed the initiative for me to make time to write, and do it every day. Make time for what matters, because no one else will.
4. Ship for free and ship regularly. Seth Godin has a lot on this and has coined the phrase “ship”. I recently made a commitment to myself to write everyday and publish new articles here twice a week. Why? Because writing is what I am supposed to do. Check out a pamphlet I just printed out called ShipIt. I encourage you to print it out as well and take action.
5. Evaluate and refine. I recently reviewed what I had blogged about over the past five years, and realized a couple of trends. (I also deleted a lot of embarrassing stuff!) Then I refined what I was going to focus on writing about in this next season and clarified my goals/purpose as a writer.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” -Mary Oliver
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