These days, everyone seems to be talking about finding your dream and living your passion. So many people are talking about it, but so few are actually doing it. What’s going on here?
All the gurus are saying the same thing: Do more. Start new habits. Get more disciplined. Do, do, do. But what if that’s not an option for you?
Most of us don’t have more time to freely spend on a new activity. We are maxed out, exhausted, and growing increasingly disillusioned with the promises we hear and see on television and billboards.
But maybe there is another way.
What if the road to finding your life’s work was actually quite simple? What if it required you to do less, not more?
My own journey of discovering—and actually doing—my dream involved a lot of focus. It required me to cut out anything that was superfluous and drill down to what mattered to me. I got rid of all the crap that was getting in the way of me doing what I really wanted.
Of course, I had to do this with a day job, so my time was limited. I had to decide what really mattered to me and what didn’t. So I began to de-clutter. I did this both literally and figuratively.
I wanted to be a writer, but every morning, I faced a messy desk. I was overwhelmed with too much activity, multiple applications open on my computer, and just a general sense of urgency.
In the midst of this stress, I learned an important lesson: Creativity and reactivity have an inverse relationship. In other words, the more I react, the less I create. When I realized that, I started killing things that were mostly reactive, so I could make room in my life to create.
One of the biggest areas that required downsizing was social media. At one moment in time, I was an “active” member of twenty-five different social networks. Do you know what I was really doing? Stalling. I was procrastinating the work I knew I was supposed to do, but was scared of: writing.
Trying to stay on stop of the latest fads and trends online was nothing more than a distraction. Eventually, I submitted to the truth: I can only do one thing at a time really well.
For me, that was writing. So I started doing it every day—even at the cost of other activities I really enjoyed, like playing the guitar. But I knew this was what was required if I was ever going to be a serious writer. Not martyrdom, but sacrifice.
As I did this, I had to scrap all other backup plans and contingencies. I had to stop waiting for perfect and just begin. Most of all, I had to reconcile with my irrational fear of failure.
Of course, I did fail at writing—many times. In fact, I probably fail at it a hundred different times every day. But the beautiful part is I’m no longer dreaming. I’m doing.
And if you’ve got a dream, you’ll have to do the same. Finding your passion isn’t about adding another item to your schedule or list of goals. It’s about creating space that enables you to do what you were made to do.