Oct 24, 2014

How to Protect Your Passion

Your passion is a precious thing. It’s meant to be protected, pursued, and nurtured. You have to grow your passion. Anyone can think they would like to be passionate, but it’s committing to the singular tasks, committing to doing, which sets us apart. You may love the idea of being a best-selling author, but if you don’t actually love writing, it’s probably not your true passion.
If you haven’t discovered your passion yet, just start with trying things. Trying something doesn’t mean making a lifelong commitment to doing it, so you have nothing to lose. Just start. Today. Right now, even. Once you find something that you love to do day in and day out, you will know it is your true passion. But it's incredibly important to protect it in the early stages. Here’s how you do that:

You’ve been working on something really hard and you feel good about it. Then you start to wonder if other people would feel good about it. So you snap a picture and post it to Instagram, you take a quote out and tweet it, you write an entire blog post on your process of creating this thing. Then you wait and let the “likes” roll in. I get it, I’ve been there. But we have to STOP doing this to ourselves. We have to stop hindering the growth of our passions by trying to fuel it with social media “likes” and the approval, or even disapproval, of others. You need to allow yourself time to find out if you really love this thing. Can it bring you joy in and of itself, rather than receiving a temporary high from the “like drug”? I encourage you to try pursuing something for at least 100 days before you start sharing it, at least on social media. Share it with friends or family if you must, but protect it from being validated (or not) by likes. Keeping your passion out of social media in its early stages will allow you to know in your heart that you are doing this because you love it, and not because you love the praise you receive from sharing it.

It is incredibly easy to get wrapped up in daydreaming about pursuing your passions as a full time career. And by no means am I saying you should set goals to work for it, but you need to take it a little slower in the beginning. Make sure that you aren’t going to get burnt out on this thing, only for it to come to a screeching halt. Maybe the excitement of it all makes you just want to say sayonara to the day job, throw caution to the wind, and go full time at your passion tomorrow. If it makes you that excited, good. But slow down so that it can remain good. So you have a day job, and it pays your bills. That awesome. It probably lasts about 8 hours a day. That’s great too, because you still have time after that day job to devote to your passion. Yes there might be dishes to wash, kids to bathe, floors to vacuum, and grass to mow, but if you love something you will find the time for it. Spend an hour a day, or spend five hours a day if you have it, working on your passion and developing your skills + knowledge. You day job can pay the bills and make sure you’re taken care of, while your passion is free to blossom into whatever you want it to be. Don’t diminish your love for the thing you are passionate about by forcing it to make enough money to pay your bills. That will make your passion your stress. Let your day job be the responsible one and your passion be, well, the passionate one. Over time you can start to phase out your day job to purse your passion full time, or work to save up enough that you can quit cold turkey one day. Just be prepared and take the necessary steps to protect your passion from the everyday stresses of life.

The difference between practice and deliberate practice is that deliberate practice focuses on one specific skill and ultimately has a desired end goal. Musicians do not play an entire song over and over again to become better at it, they break it down into sections and work on it piece by piece. Why do you think middle school band students begin with learning Hot Cross Buns? Because it’s a repetition of playing the same thing over and over again. The focus is on learning which key combinations create which notes, how to hold their lips, and just the basic functions of playing an instrument. The teacher is not going to stick the Star Spangled Banner sheet music in front of them and say, “don’t worry just keep going and you’ll get it one day.” Some skill sets within your passion will come easy for you, and some will require deliberate practice. Protect your passion by deliberately practicing the weaker points and I believe you will achieve your goals much sooner than if you just go at it with no sense of direction or focus.

If you’re working a day job with a set schedule, such as 8 to 5, you mostly likely wake up every day and go to that job without anyone telling you to do so and without making a conscious decision to do so. You just do it, because it’s required. You know you have to show up or you will be fired. Likewise, even if you don’t work a set schedule, you know that you have to get a certain amount of work done in order to pay the bills. And you know what the consequences will be if you don’t pay the bills. So why not treat your passion like this? Set a schedule for working on your passion. Commit to one hour every night after dinner. Commit to waking up early to pursue your passion in the time before going in to your day job. Do whatever it takes to make sure your passion is getting time and attention. It should be unthinkable. The people you live with should know the time frame for which you set aside to work on your passion, in the same way they know the time frame you attend your day job. That time for your passion should be respected and protected. Don’t cheat it out of your attention just so that you can binge watch a new show on Netflix. If you need to create a margin of time for things like Netflix, or the latest Facebook game addiction, then do that. Just make sure you passion has it’s routine and the lower priorities come after that.

With all that being said, don’t think I have this all figured out. I’m learning this right along with you. I have to remind myself of these things all the time. Protect your passion. I’m currently working on something I have grown to love, therefore I made a promise to myself not to share it until 2015. The only ones in on this little adventure are my husband and my accountability partner. And believe me, it has been incredibly hard not to shout from the rooftops “I LOVE THIS THING.” It’s hard not to post a sneak peek to Instagram, just to see what kind of response it gets. I almost slipped up one day. But I’m not giving into temptation. God has put this passion in my heart and I’m protecting it until He allows me to feel right about sharing it. But that’s exciting. It’s creating so much build-up to the moment that I can actually tell people about something I love so much. But for right now, it will stay un-published, un-pressured, and being deliberately sought after.

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