I’ve always worked hard at whatever I’ve been doing. My work-ethic comes from doing what I enjoy, and not forcing myself to do something.
Highly passionate people aren’t just lucky, they share common characteristics. They work hard, they trust their intuition and they persevere.
I personally don’t see myself having any other options than following my passion. Without doing what I truly want, life would be without color, without joy and without meaning.
We all have the habits necessary, we just need to let them shine.
When I was in my late teens, I wasn’t even remotely familiar with terms like “follow your passion”, “listen to your heart” or “go with your intuition”.
As the years have passed, these concepts have grown and I’ve realized that the only thing that matters is what I am excited about in this very moment.
It’s far too easy for me to start questioning what I’m doing. But in the end, what matters is how much I’m enjoying myself. You can never know where you’ll end up, so you might as well enjoy the ride.
We’ve been taught that logic is superior, but is it really? Life isn’t a game where all the variables are known, so there’s no way you can predict the future (unless you have special powers, and even then, things don’t quite work out).
It’s about you listening to your inner GPS. Here’s a video I recorded on this:
Courage is something you build up. It’s a muscle.
Many seem to believe that following their passion should be effortless. It’s not. It requires hard work, but the good news is that it’ll be enjoyable hard work, for the most part.
I’ve never worked a real job in my life. I became a professional poker player straight out of school. I had no idea if I was going to succeed. In the beginning, a lot of people doubted if making a living playing poker was possible.
I had a passion for playing poker, so I kept at it and eventually started making a comfortable living. That took courage, but it wasn’t extraordinary. I just took things one day at a time, and worked hard.
Then I transitioned from online poker to online websites. If you want to learn more about my journey, check out my book: How I Made Over $100,000 Online Doing What I Love.
People tell me that I’m lucky. I seem to get good at everything they say. I’m not lucky. I’m just determined, and I make sure to pick something that I like doing. It’s pretty easy to get good at something you’re interested in.
In the beginning, you may not be 100% determined, but that’s okay. Be as determined as you can be, and keep moving forward. Many people mistake a temporary failure for a permanent one.
There are no permanent failures. There are only learning opportunities. If you learn everything you can about blogging, try it for a year, and then lose motivation—that’s fine.
You never know. Maybe you unconsciously picked up a few skills that will help you down the road.
My #1 priority is doing what I feel excited about. If I can’t do that, I might as well be dead.
I have bad days like anyone else, but in general I’m a pretty positive guy. I feel good as long as I’m following my heart.
There’s a fine line between being blissfully ignorant and positively realistic. It’s something you have to figure out for yourself. Try both, and find your own balance.
I personally enjoy being blissfully ignorant, especially if it upsets someone else. There are a lot of people out there that try to tell you that you can’t go after your dreams.
Those are usually the people that have given up. They aren’t really in a place to give advice. Giving them a few pokes usually (hopefully) provokes new thought.
Being passionate doesn’t mean limiting yourself to one passion. I’ve been passionate about health, martial arts, websites, languages, guitar, cartooning, and on the list goes.
My passion changes, but what remains constant is my single-mindedness. I work best when I’m 100% focused on what I do.
For example, in 2010 I immersed myself in learning Spanish. I did nothing else but studied Spanish for several months. I’m obsessive like that.
I want to be able to spend as many hours as possible on what I enjoy. That is what I mean by being single-minded.
By following your passion, you automatically become growth oriented. You tap into something greater than yourself.
That source of guidance can only lead to one place and I think you know what it is. We all have different words, definition and concepts about it, but we all mean the same thing.
I’m always looking to grow. I want to become better, smarter and happier.
But you don’t want to lose the fun.
Let’s say you have to choose between two paths.
Path #1 is faster, but requires more discipline and is less fun. Path #2 is slower, but you’ll enjoy it more. In the past, I would’ve chosen Path #1, but now I’d choose #2, because if I’m not enjoying myself right now, it’s not worth it.
I used to have a problem with jumping into too many things at once. I think we all have many interests, which is good, but it’s a double-edged sword. We want to do everything at once.
Usually when I ask someone what they want to do, they rabble up a dozen different things.
What works for me is relentless focus. I pick one thing, maybe two, and focus on them until I feel like it’s time to move on.
For some, this may seem irresponsible, but to me, it’s the most responsible thing I can do.
Throughout the years I’ve learned to ease up on my perfectionism. Instead of focusing on the little details, I’ve started focusing on the big picture.
I think about what I want to achieve and am more concerned about making progress than making everything look good.
Let’s take blogging as an example, just because it’s on my mind right now. If you want to start blogging, just start! You don’t need an awesome design, or to have everything planned out.
All you need is to get your blog up, get it looking okay and start writing, recording podcasts or making videos. That’s the only way you’ll know if you even like it.
(Sidenote: If you’re curious to see my YouTube videos. You”ll find them here.)
So often we think we like something, but when we actually start, we realize that it doesn’t feel right at all. That’s why it’s important to start, get your feet wet, and see how it feels.
Prioritization goes hand in hand with being selective. I know people that don’t have time, and I know people that make time. It’s not that you don’t have enough time; it’s that you fail to prioritize.
I’ve received a lot of e-mails about time issues. I know some people are single-mothers, working two jobs while juggling two kids. I have no idea how tough that is, but I do know that if you really want something, there are ways to make time and prioritize, even if it starts with a few minutes per day.
No matter how tough your situation is, you can always do something. Don’t worry about reaching your goal, just worry about making today more fulfilling than yesterday.
As long as I’m doing what I want to be doing, I don’t need self-motivation. It’s only when I do the boring tasks that I have to throw in some ninja-motivation techniques.
For example, when I was working on a product of mine, I had to learn the technical parts in order to start selling it. It wasn’t fun, but I knew that it had to be done.
My focus was constantly on how good I would feel when I was done. Whatever motivates you is fair game. There are no rules when it comes to self-motivation.
I sometimes use negativity to motivate myself. I don’t care, as long as I get things done. I try to be proactive and avoid these situations though.
Bottom line: The more I follow my passion, and what excites me, the more motivated I am, so there’s rarely a need to push.
Sometimes things don’t work out the way I want them to. I do my best to accept whatever comes my way, but I don’t always succeed.
If there’s something I try to portray on this blog, it’s the fact that I’m as human as you. Even seemingly god-like personal development bloggers like Steve Pavlina are human.
We all make mistakes. We’re all afraid. The people that seem to be the most successful are the ones who’ve figured out how to keep taking action despite the obstacles on their path.
There’s no one out there that can really tell you what to do. You have to figure out your own stuff. While I do recommend that you learn from others in the beginning, you also have to be willing to take the wheel after awhile and start experimenting.
Below is a short video I recorded about this:
Service to others is really service to self. I’m going to be honest and say that one of the main reasons I want to help you is because it makes me feel good to see you succeed.
I’ve been on both sides of the fence. When I was a professional poker player, I was focused largely focused on myself.
It was nice, but it wasn’t fulfilling. I’ve since discovered that helping others makes me feel much better than just helping myself.
Something I also want to point out is that sometimes you need to help yourself before you can help others. Looking at it from that perspective, personal development is really world development. You can’t help anyone if your cup is empty. You can’t increase happiness in others until you radiate happiness.
I have a tendency to get obsessed about the things I am interested in. Like I mentioned above with my Spanish learning. When I started this blog back in December 2009, I was obsessed. I read, listened and did nothing but blogging. It was all I wanted to do.
And it helped me go from 0 to 1,012 blog subscribers in 101 days. When you take action, results happen.
The most important thing is that I had fun while doing it.
I work best when I’m non-balanced. I may do something 10 hours a day for 3 months and then take a break, or I may do it less. It all depends on how I’m feeling.
14. Personal Power
When I got out of school at 18, my personal power level was very low. As the years passed, I’ve realized that the best place to look for guidance is within. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know I say that a lot ;).
This has helped me build confidence. I by no means have a perfect guidance system. I fall into traps. I make a fool of myself, but that’s okay, because I know that I would not want to be doing anything else.
We all have a kid inside of us who wants someone to tell us what to do. We want validation and confirmation. That’s fine, but in the end, you are the only one who really knows what you want.
And to contradict myself … When you look at your life, you see that it’s a jumble of coincidences, which makes you wonder: Are we really in control of our life, or are we just along for the ride?
I used to think money was the answer to happiness. The only way to happiness was having millions in the bank and relaxing on a nice white beach, but that no longer interests me, because I know the artificial happiness it creates does not last.
I need something to work on. I want to follow my excitement, wherever it takes me. I am constantly being pulled in different directions, and I love it. If I were to take a “vacation”, I’d get bored after a week.
You don’t need to retire to a beach in Brazil. All you need to do is find what makes you tick.
I couldn’t imagine myself doing nothing for an extended period of time. Happiness to me is doing what I want. It may mean something different for you, but that’s what it means for me.
There’s a need for discipline, but there’s also a need for fun. I used to be a lot more disciplined than fun. I’d say no to requests to hang out, because I had my eyes on my current goal.
I wanted to reach my goal as soon as possible. I wanted to get things done, because I thought that achieving my goals would make me happy, but I’ve since come to realize that it’s a mirage. It’s all a mirage, an illusion.
There’s no rush, because happiness is available right here, right now. What’s stopping me from feeling peaceful are the assumptions I make, the beliefs I have, and the thoughts I choose to give power to.
Who cares if you reach your goal? Who cares how good you look on paper? Who cares what other people think?
We chase after something we’ve learned to be important. It may be money, fame, success, writing a book, or whatever is on your list. It’s something you’ve decided is important, and you’re causing yourself stress.
What if you simply let go? What if you let life live itself and did the best you could, without forcing progress?
It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, which is why it’s important to take a step back, and look at what you’re trying to achieve.
I have a very easy time falling into the trap of looking at numbers in my blogging. I look at how many people unsubscribe from my e-mail list instead of the thank you e-mails I receive.
I compare myself to others and think about how far I still have to go instead of looking at how far I’ve come.
In the end what this all comes down to is following my excitement. I have to remind myself of that once in awhile. I have to remind myself that I can relax and enjoy myself.
I have to remind myself that there’s no rush. The only pressure you experience is the pressure you put on yourself.
(Note: I wrote the above paragraphs in 2010. Today, I’ve let go of a big part of this. I don’t compare myself to others as much, and I’m more at peace. It’s still there, but it’s okay. Whatever life throws at me is what I need to learn. It’s all an inside job.)
Here’s a short video on comparing yourself to others:
18. Realistically Dreamy
Most of the things you take for granted today were thought impossible in the past. The point I want to make is this: don’t listen to the nay-sayers, because you will run into plenty of them.
You may even have a nay-sayer in your head. You know, that negative nagging part of you.
I enjoy being what I call realistically dreamy. If I feel good about something, I’ll go for it. I don’t care if the chances of me succeeding are small, because even if it doesn’t work out, I will gain vital experience points.
If at some point you don’t doubt yourself, you’re probably not being uncomfortable enough. Going after your passion means being uncomfortable. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different.
19. Conditionally Open-Minded
Being flexible and open-minded means different things to different people. I like to think of myself as conditionally open-minded.
If I’ve set my sails for something, I shut out everything else and start taking action. There’s no need for me to keep distracting myself with more information if I know enough to take action.
There will always be people telling me that I’m doing things wrong, but I don’t listen to them, because the only thing that matters is how I feel about what I’m doing.
Maybe I need to fail in something to succeed at something else down the road. This is why I’ve stopped looking at things in isolation. I’ve started to trust the force.
Yoda was right all along.
Last, but definitely not least is the fact that I don’t take excuses seriously. If I want something badly enough, excuses dissolve like paper in fire.
If I succumb to my excuses, I know I’m not ready to head down that road. It may also be because it’s not a road that’s a good fit for me at this time.
The excuses you have right now don’t matter. What matters is what kind of life you want.
And what matters is realizing that what we’re all after is a feeling. We want money so we can be happy. We want to write a book so we can be liked, and we want to be liked because we want to be happy.
It’s all an inside job, and the feelings you want are available right here, right now.
That’s that for this article.
If you want to dive deeper into finding and following your passion, I recommend you check out my free article series on passion here.
I also have two books you may want to check out. They are:
- Do What You Love: Essays on Uncovering Your Path in Life
- Find Your Passion: 25 Questions You Must Ask Yourself
Have a fantastic day!