Sometimes follow your passion is crappy advice

I just read another article talking about how important it is to love what you do.  Follow your passion it says.  I am not saying that getting paid for doing what you love is not awesome, it is.  But guess what, most people do not have that luxury and telling people to do that usually just makes them feel like a failure.

What is your purpose?

Many people who write articles about following your passion they really mean PURPOSE.  Your passion is what drives you towards your purpose.  People who talk about following your passion also usually leave out or forget about the process and time it took/takes to get there.  I am not saying don’t follow your passion, I am just saying you need to be patient and realistic about finding your purpose.  The real challenge comes in separating out what you want from what you were created for.  You can be passionate about chasing fame, money, etc but they fleeting.  When you are working on discovering your gift THEN you are on your way to discover your purpose.  Once you find your gift and your purpose then your passion cannot be taken from you.

Don’t get hung up on figuring out your purpose it will come.  As we say at work, you need to:

Trust the process

So, what is the process.  I am still working on the details but step one is getting out of your comfort zone.  You cannot and will not grow if you only do things you are comfortable with.  Try listening to people that you disagree with?  I mean REALLY listen.  Find out why people believe the things they do and how they came to that belief.  It is also a good idea to challenge your beliefs.  Many times we build the walls that later imprison us.  Talk to people that believe differently than you.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable.  This is why things like Spartan Races and Tough Mudders are so popular.  People are finding power in pushing their limits.  Me?  I push my limits through building community with and for others.  Think an obstacle course is tough?  Try pouring into the lives of others or better yet, your own family.  OUCH, I know that one hurts, it hurts me too.  But to me step one is to get kinetic.  Start moving, do something and do it now.

Pay the bills

Sometimes you gotta suck it up an take what is available to you.  I will use my story.  After graduation with a stellar 2.48 in criminal justice I got not one, but two jobs.  I washed cars at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and bused tables at Elijah’s restaurant. Very glamorous, I know.  Family reunions were really fun!

I still remember the Manager at Enterprise telling me that when they have a full time opportunity as a Management Trainee they would interview me for it.  I was smart enough to say that sounded great but the truth is it didn’t.  I did not go to college to rent cars!  But after 3 months of washing cars I learned that they actually taught you about running a business and you could make good money, after a while.  The manager was a graduate from UNC, Chapel Hill.  The rest of the crew had degrees from schools including Duke University and Maryland but renting cars was not my passion.  What is was though, was an opportunity.

Set goals

Setting goals is another thing you hear a lot.  Unfortunately I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I did not have a “passion” that I could tell let alone a purpose.  But through my career at Enterprise I pursued opportunities that allowed me to try new things.  I believe that by pushing through your comfort zones you will find things will help you find your gift.  Mine is helping people and building community.

I am not saying don’t set ANY goals.  Daily, weekly, monthly and career goals are good for you.  You should not feel bad if you don’t have a five year plan but you do want to know what direction you are moving in.  Without a direction on a journey you will find yourself stumbling over the same rock again and again.

Live in the moment

This is both good and bad.  I totally agree that we need to learn on being present.  Tim Ferriss quotes someone as saying:

Anxiety is living in the future and depression is living in the past

I know several people who have rushed through life working to retire early only to realize that they missed what they really wanted out of life… LIFE.  It is one thing to sacrifice for something you really want; not having that latte every morning to save for a vacation.  But is a whole different thing to not spend time with your family so you work more and retire early.  You need to ask yourself:

Am I doing what brings me life or death?

If what you are doing does not lead to life, then you need to make a change.  My litmus test these days is asking this question:

Does what I am doing create, build or foster community and relationships?

If the answer is no, then I do my best not to do it.  Watching TV?  If I do it with someone else or maybe I then discuss that TV show with others later then it might meet my minimum threshold.  Even video games can pass the muster if I am playing with someone I know.  The trick is to start building community.

Even without movement there is change. But without movement someone else is choosing your direction.
Al Pollard