Have you noticed how every week a different topic is trending?
You can very easily see this if you're on twitter every day, even just for a few minutes because suddenly everyone is talking about the same thing. And I'm not talking about some kind of event or you know, the latest stupid thing twitter is doing... I'm talking about a topic that can be seen from many different perspectives. The latest popular theme has been "the fetishization of passion" as Elizabeth Gilbert calls it in this podcast episode.
She says that it's dangerous to put so much pressure on passion because it was never meant to carry it. There's a scary trend of people wanting their passions and creative talents to become their full-time jobs. Maybe myself and a couple other creatives out there have been adding to this kind of thinking, but for the record, I think you should only ask your creativity to pay the bills if you know the price and have a solid strategy.
Passion and creativity are there for you, but in a very fluid way. You're the one responsible for finding a way to "make it happen."
I've always seen passion and creativity as best friends - dancing around, having fun - and I'm the one who gets to chase them or entertain them so they don't float away from me when I most need them. It's my job to keep them, it's not their job to appear.
Now let's look at a few ways to keep them dancing in your life.
The role of practice.
Many artists have managed to beat the odds and monetize their passions by finding ways to turn their creativity into something that meets popular demand. Like Jeff Goins who turned his blog into a money-making machine in a year. Thing is, Jeff knows that the key to turning pro is to act like a pro, and for writers, that means writing every day.
I get a lot of writers come to me and ask how they can deal with writer's block or how to turn their inspiration back on, and some who even say things like Oh, you know, my friend said it's normal, so I'm just waiting for inspiration to come. If waiting for inspiration to come means writing one day, then not writing for a week, then you're doing a great disservice to your creativity, not to mention your odds of "making it happen."
Professional creatives practice their craft every day, and the ones who say "wait it out" probably don't make any money from their craft.
You can't ask your passion or your creativity to carry the load for you. You can only ask them to grace you with their presence, give you some good ideas, make your life brighter, and then you get to WORK to keep them around as much as possible.
They play, you do the work. They bring the ideas, you make them happen.
The importance of experience.
Right now the majority of people online are arguing that there is no such thing as one true passion, and if you waited or looked for it, you would miss a lot of opportunities. That, I agree with. You can't think about passion as one particular thing.
Passion is a feeling, as Terri Trespicio says in her popular TED Talk, which means it changes. What you're passionate about today is different from what you'll be passionate about in 5 years, which is what makes life fun and unpredictable.
The only way to experience passion is to DO things. I have done many things and started many creative projects. I have worked many sucky jobs and a couple of good ones. If I hadn't done so many things, I would have no idea what I could end up being passionate about! Like Marie Forleo says, you can't think your way out of or into something. You can only do and try things so that when the right opportunity arrives, you'll recognize it.
This is why when someone comes to me and says, I'm researching careers, I'm thinking, Why are you not out there working?! Or when somebody says I'm thinking of becoming a writer, I ask Why haven't you been writing? What are you waiting for?
Passion takes time and action. It's not a thing, it's a process. And the most beautiful outcome of this process is sometimes called "creative convergence" - when all of your skills and talents and passions and experiences come together in a magical puzzle that is so unique and so powerful that only you could have come up with it. Like Marie Forleo's powerful, progressive brand or Sophia Amoruso's fashion empire for nasty gals or Linda Liukas' way of mixing art and coding to empower small children.
That kind of puzzle could make it happen for you. It could change your life.
Everything becomes a job.
If you think that you can start your dream business or your dream job today, and it will always be just as stimulating and wonderful as it is right now, you're living in fantasy land. I know where you're coming from because I've always been an idealistic dreamer myself.
However, the truth is that every single job comes with its own set of blah tasks.
That's the reason so many Virtual Assistants manage to find work! Because people have so many parts of their businesses they'd rather have someone else handle.
I definitely don't love setting sequences on Mailchimp (still procrastinating on it) and whenever I have to create anything resembling a presentation, my soul dies a little, but I do these things because the prize I get is way higher than any one compromise:
The prize is that I get to design my own business, and lifestyle.
If that means I have to suffer through some admin and technical tasks, so be it.
As time passes, work becomes repetitive and boring, but you have the power to infuse fun things and make it exciting again. Just don't jump into anything with the illusion that it will be a dream forever because it won't be. Everything becomes a "job" eventually. Even something you love doing. (My writing has become formatting blog posts and editing ebooks and adding CTAs, which is nothing like the writing I fell in love with.)
That's normal. Know the reality, embrace it, and find ways to infuse fun and play to revive your passion and creativity when they become repetitive. (For example, take time to write for fun or start fun projects like my podcast experiment.)
Are you floating or grounded?
Most of the success stories you read online are not success stories within themselves. They came about because of much practice, planning, and preparation beforehand.
When I started my business, I had tons of experience with blogging and online projects. When I finally nailed my marketing strategy, I felt READY to commit to something bigger because I knew I had something powerful to fall back on. It wasn't a jumping out of a plane without a parachute type of thing, but rather jumping out with a couple of chutes: One of them being my strategy and the other being the ton of money I'd saved up.
If you're risking everything to build something fulfilling and sustainable, you better jump with not one, but two parachutes. (tweet this)
Like many other creatives out there, I'm a dreamer beat down again and again by life. I've been homeless, penniless, hopeless, many times before things finally started to work out the way I wanted them to. These were all my doing and my mistakes, which resulted from my stubbornness to let life ground me. I naively believed you can live your life in the clouds. When I finally started my business, it wasn't because of reckless courage or an idea that changed everything. It was because I'd finally landed on the ground.
Gary Vaynerchuk talks about "overnight success" in one of his awesome motivational rants. He says that he wasn't lucky to have made it, but he spent a decade working his butt off and learning what works and what doesn't. When he finally "made it happen," he already had a pretty good grasp on the reality of work and fickleness of passion. He says how it's "a constant grind" and it's never just fun, but it's always worth it. Success is showing up every day without expecting instant reward or feeling entitled to it. (tweet this)
I'm not assuming you want Gary's success, but I gave him as an example to show you that a lot of years of preparation and being grounded goes into the equation of making your dreams come true and living the life you design for yourself.
The problem with false friends.
You know, we're not perfect. We're often mistaken about things.
Have you ever been betrayed by a close friend and you just couldn't believe they would do such a thing? Or did you think you would love to learn something but it ended up being a bust? These things happen every day, and so it's no surprise that we can get mistaken about things we appear to love, but in reality are bad for us.
When you want to become CEO even though you're not great with managing people, that's a false friend. When you love doing something so much because it brings you a sense of accomplishment, but it doesn't feed your soul, that's a false friend.
The latter happened to me a couple years ago. I was working a job that didn't align with my values and yet, I loved it because I was doing great. People turned to me for advice, asked for interviews, and carried my name around. Success is great, but when it comes at a high price, like taking away that which really matters, it's no good.
As you know, I ended up changing my message and switching industries, and now that everything's aligned, I couldn't be happier. So what if I lost time and potential clients? So what if I reset my professional career by a year? It was all worth it.
There's this super popular piece of advice by Oliver Emberton on Quora and a lot of people saying that passion comes from success. However, that kind of advice implies that all and any success that fuels your passion is OK, that this cannot possibly lead to a life crisis or crashing or anything negative. Bear in mind the story I told you and perform regular check-ins, just in case you unknowingly met a false friend:
Ask yourself, "Am I happy? Am I doing something that's important to me? Is this fulfilling enough to go beyond making money?" Answer honestly. Doing this regularly will prevent you from trusting false friends with important life decisions.
Practice, experience, play time, check-ins... these are strategies for life. They will not be easy or take you to your dream fast, but they will keep you grounded when your head is trying to float away in the clouds. The "real life" is hard for creatives and idealists, but we can survive by developing more grounded strategies and systems and realizing that we're not entitled to success, but that we have to show up and earn it. (tweet this)
Now that we have that cleared up, it's time for...
The main takeaways:
- Practice your craft every day if you want to be a "pro"
- The secret to creating magic is trying a lot of things and failing a lot of times
- Every dream has a price and eventually becomes a job, so find ways to make things fun again and breathe some life back into your work
- Those who stubbornly keep their heads in the clouds will never know success because this life is so designed as to ground us (tweet this)
- Do regular check-ins to avoid soulless and dead-end jobs
Scott Adams says, Figure out the price of success, and then pay it. I wish you luck in finding what that price is and joy in paying it every single day. :)