Highly passionate people aren’t just lucky.
They share common characteristics.
They work hard, they trust their intuition and they persevere.
Nothing special is required. You don’t have to be gifted. You don’t need permission. You can follow what makes you come alive.
The only thing holding you back are the stories you’ve learned about this path.
Now, let’s look at the key habits of highly passionate people, shall we?
Passionate people follow what makes them come alive.
When I was in my late teens, I wasn’t familiar with terms like “follow your passion”, “listen to your heart” or “trust your intuition”.
As the years have passed, I’ve realized that what is relevant to me is what I resonate with in this moment.
I follow my excitement. I follow that subtle whisper within me to check something out. I am drawn by an invisible force to explore certain paths.
I have doubts. I have fears, just like anyone else. However, I’ve learned to just take one step at a time toward my excitement. That has guided me through life since 2002.
We’ve been taught to listen to logic. Don’t get me wrong, logic has its place, but it cannot live your life for you. It will make you miserable.
This comes down to listening to your excitement, to your inner GPS, as I like to call it.
Here’s a video I recorded on this:
Passionate people know that following your passion isn’t without its challenges.
Courage is required to walk this path.
Courage is not something you wait for. It is built up through facing your inner demons.
Following your passion requires work, but the good news is that it’s enjoyable 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, 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.
In the future, I don’t doubt that I will transition to something else. Life is constantly changing. All I have to do is listen to my inner GPS, and see where life takes me.
Life knows where I need to be. I just have to have the courage to say yes.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that results rarely come fast. Following your passion doesn’t just happen.
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 do my best to pick something that I feel drawn to. It’s pretty easy to get good at something you’re interested in.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always know if I’m on the right track. I simply follow what is interesting, and leave it at that. If I make a mistake, then so be it. I’m doing what I can in each moment.
That’s all I can do.
I’m not always 100% determined. Even that is okay. I’m as determined as I can be. Determination simply means that I re-focus on taking tiny steps toward what matters.
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 pick up a few skills that will help you down the road.
And if nothing else, you did something you enjoyed.
I have bad days like anyone else, but I keep following my heart, my inner GPS.
There’s a fine line between being blissfully ignorant and positively realistic. It’s something you have to discover for yourself. Try both, and find your own balance.
Being positive means being optimistic about following your dreams. You do not need permission to say yes to your soul.
You do not need validation.
You simply need to focus on what you can do with what you have. You start where you are, and let life nudge you forward.
That is positivity.
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.
Most of those passions are now gone. A few remain, such as writing, teaching, and helping.
Even thought the fire has fizzled from most of those passions, they all left a spark within me. They taught me something. They broadened my perspective.
My passions change, but what remains constant is my single-mindedness to keep listening to what life is calling out of me.
I won’t pretend to figure out my path. I don’t know what life has in store. Realizing this has freed me up to enjoy this moment, because I don’t waste time obsessing about how life should be.
Following your passion makes you growth-oriented. You tap into something greater than yourself.
You are constantly being asked to step out of your comfort zone, which leads to growth, to evolution.
I’m always looking to grow. I want to discover more of the truth, to learn more about how the world works.
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.
Passionate people know when to say no.
When you say no, you have energy to what you feel called to do.
I used to jump into too many things at once. We all have many interests, which is great, but it’s a double-edged sword.
We want to do everything at once, so we say yes to everything, which means nothing gets done.
When I ask students and clients what they want to do, they rabble up a laundry list of interests.
It’s hard to focus on just one thing. But it helps to remember that you are experimenting. You simply choose what makes you come most alive, and what you can take action on.
You can’t pick the wrong thing, because any choice leads to learning.
Throughout the years I’ve learned to ease up on my perfectionism. Instead of getting stuck on the little details, I’ve started focusing on the big picture.
I’m more concerned about helping you, rather than trying to make my article feel perfect to myself.
This internal sense of perfection is an illusion, because I’m comparing my internal image of perfection to the external world.
It’s much more important that I do my best, hit publish, and pay attention to the feedback.
For example, if you want to start blogging, just start. You don’t need a professional design, or to have everything planned out.
All you need is to get your blog up, and start writing, recording podcasts or making videos. That’s the only way you’ll know if you even like it.
The key is to take a step, listen to your excitement, take another step, listen, step, listen, and so on.
Here’s a video on taking action:
Prioritization goes hand in hand with being selective.
No one has time to do anything. Your to-do list will always be full.
This means you have to prioritize what is important to you. If you don’t, your fate will be to react to life until you turn to ash.
Reacting to life means living a life based on other people’s actions.
Let go of the things that are not important to you. You have to say no to people, projects, and most of your own ideas.
No matter how much you have on your plate, I know one thing: You can always take one step toward what makes you come alive.
It may be a tiny step, but it is always there.
The definition of self-motivated is:
motivated to do or achieve something because of one’s own enthusiasm or interest, without needing pressure from others.
I love what I do.
That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle.
I doubt my ability to write, record, and create. I have fears. I have dragons to battle.
I want to watch a movie instead of writing this, but I also know that writing this is what is truly fulfilling. Watching a movie is easy, but it leaves me feeling empty. It feels like unfulfilled potential.
I am on this planet to do what I’m doing right now.
This connection to what I feel called to do, on a deep level, is what motivates me.
Passionate people work with what they have.
Acceptance doesn’t mean passivity.
Acceptance is an inner state of non-resistance.
I resist life like anyone else. But the longer I live, the more I align with reality.
I see that what I want, and what life wants from me are two different things. I’ve also noticed that what life wants is better for me than what I want.
I’ve grown to trust life, and to accept what it brings.
If an obstacle stands in my way, I’ll do what I can to overcome it. If I’m truly stuck, I’ll ask for help, from someone, from life, from my intuition.
No one can truly tell you what to do. I cannot give you a plan, because living a passionate life is unique to you, which means you have to learn to listen to your inner GPS.
That is the only way you will live the life you were born to live.
Below is a short video I recorded about this:
Service to others is really service to self.
At a certain stage, I lost track of why I’m really doing things.
I know that I feel drawn to write this, but I don’t really know why. It feels good. It’s as if life itself is moving me. My personality, my past conditioning, and my soul are all coming together to dance with life.
From this, generosity flows naturally.
I want to help you. There are boundaries, of course, but the underlying pull to be of service is there.
Perhaps this comes from discovering that helping others makes me feel better than just helping myself.
I came to this realization through helping myself first. That was my path. Sometimes you have to help yourself in order to help others. It doesn’t matter where you begin, because it always comes back full circle.
Passionate people don’t get stuck in unhelpful concepts.
I have a tendency to get obsessed with the things I’m interested in.
I don’t worry about balance. Balance has its place, but I listen to my inner guidance, first and foremost.
I’ve noticed a pattern in my life. I tend to be interested in something for anywhere from three months to a few years. I extract what I need, and I move on.
Some interests remain, like writing, teaching, and creating.
Start paying attention to the patterns in which your life moves. Your life doesn’t have to be balanced every 24 hours, every week, or even every decade.
Don’t force your life into a mold that doesn’t fit.
What if following your interests naturally leads to the balance your life needs?
14. Personal Power
When I got out of school at 18, my personal power level was low. As the years passed, I learned to trust my inner authority.
At first, I was hesitant to follow what felt magnetic. With time, I saw the positive results. My mind even got on board to some extent, because it could see that following what felt magnetic led to an interesting life.
I still make mistakes, but I don’t worry about it. Life is fluid. One mistake isn’t going to ruin my life. And even if it does, so what?
I can only do what I can. Worrying about trying to do something I can’t do is pointless.
We all want someone to tell us that we’re on the right track, but it’s not until you begin to trust yourself that you grab ahold of your destiny.
You don’t have to force this to happen. It happens naturally as you go through life. You eventually discover that no one knows your life better than you.
“People suffer when they pursue a life or chase a dream that doesn’t belong to them.” – Caroline Myss
Happiness is living a life that is true to my soul.
It’s not about what my mind wants, or what I think would make me happy. It’s about trusting life, and walking the path that was made for me.
Are you pursuing what you think you want, or are you going after what lights up your soul?
The latter is difficult, because it means you have to step out of your comfort zone. Most people run away from their true path.
There’s a need for discipline, but there’s also a need for fun.
Being too focused on discipline means you most likely have a belief that achievements can bring lasting happiness.
You alone have to discover that this is not the case.
You can find fun in even tedious tasks. This is because we feel the world through our thoughts and emotions.
We live in a virtual reality of our own making.
What changes is not the tedious task, but how you relate to it.
There’s no need to force. Let life live itself. Do your best, and enjoy the ride.
Just enjoy the ride.
Passionate people take a step back from time to time.
What are you trying to achieve?
Why are you doing what you’re doing?
Is this what makes you come alive, or are you chasing a ghost, someone else’s idea of a good life?
Sometimes taking a step back is useful.
In the end, what this 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.
18. Realistically Dreamy
Don’t ask others to tell you what’s possible.
They will often only tell you what’s probable.
That’s why following your passion, and walking your own path can be so hard. You have to learn to trust yourself, and sometimes you have to be willing to walk alone.
Many of the things you take for granted today were thought impossible by a past version of you.
I don’t know what I’m truly capable of. The good news is that I don’t have to know. I just have to take one step at a time, and trust my inner guidance.
It sounds simple when I put it like this, but those small steps are often taken on a dark road filled with distractions, fears, and people telling you to stop.
You will doubt yourself on this path. You will be uncomfortable, but that’s okay.
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.
I try not to get too hung up on getting things perfect. There will always be ways to do things better, but I’m focused on moving forward. I’ll get better as I gain more experience. I don’t have to be perfect right away.
It also helps to look at if I’m getting the desired result.
To take this article as an example, am I getting my message across to you? This article isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough to perhaps help you in some way. That is a great starting point.
Passionate people don’t listen to their own excuses.
I don’t take excuses seriously. Following my passion brings my fears to the surface.
There will always be a reason to not step forward, to remain comfortable.
But I’m aware that if I do that, I will suffer, because I’m not doing what my soul is calling me to do.
Everyone has excuses. Everyone has reasons for not doing that they feel called to do.
Once you realize that your excuses don’t have to stop you, well, life becomes a lot more interesting.
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!
Very cool list.
Something I find passionate people exhibiting is a certain sense of freedom to the topic. They are happy to explore all over and around it, in fact they thirst for it. Offcourse their motivation comes from a internal desire.
Angela Artemis says
Great post. I can’t think of a thing to add that you might not have covered!
I especially like what you have to say about being guided by your intuition. Also, it’s so true that when we are passionate about what we’re doing we become channels for the work and something greater does take over the wheel.
Thanks for this!
Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion says
Loved the list here Henri, especially the last one, —NO EXCUSES. It’s so easy to explain off why we don’t reach our goals, why we fall short, what kept us from the prize. But the fact is, excuses stink. They never helped the teller nor the listener. Those that grasp this one habit will always find huge success and happiness in this life.
Joshua Noerr says
Just like success is a habit, passion is as well. One of my favorite points you hit on is being selective. In order for one’s passion to be a positive driving force in life, one has to avoid “shiny object syndrome.”
You have to decide what it is you are passionate about, then go all out to make it happen. Thanks for sharing a great post Henri.
You’ve certainly nailed the top 20 essential habits and I particularly agree with the ‘growth oriented’ habit. Successful people are not stagnant and are curious, fun-filled, positive, people who are open-minded and who are future-focused. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this,
rob white says
These are all great points and well articulated. I have always been able to trust my intuition to let my passions guide me. Once passion is in the drivers seat there is no stopping you. Like you, when I was a real estate developer it was all I wanted to think about. When I was a restaurateur I was marvelously obsessed with that. My greatest passion now is my writing and I am often in awe of just how it has taken over my being. In my experience, passionate people reach a level where there is no discipline or habit necessary to get where they are going… there is simply what needs to be done, and they know they will do it.
I have to say that I love the last one. Really. Being excuse free and just going for it is something that will make life worth living and get you where you really say you want to be.
Excuses are for people who don’t take the time and effort to live the life of their dreams – Eric Heavilin.
Dan Goodwin says
Lots to think about in this Henri.
The parts that stood out for me were about being focused and obsessive, and that’s how you start to make real leaps and bounds in progress.
I’ve always tended to get obsessive about things, a simple example is a new record I’d love and get into, then playing it virtually constantly for weeks, even months on end. Or writing in a certain form, like haikus or six word stories, and just be so focused and tuned in to that form of creating that it just pours out of me.
I’ve had a few people around me that have seen that kind of obsession as unhealthy, so it’s good to hear your views as being more like mine. : )
Thanks for the article and plenty to digest and learn from.
I really enjoyed the simple and seemigly calm style which with you wrote this post. It was easy and interesting to read. It makes me feel at peace.
What stood out the most for me on this post was about single focus and the passion to go for it while having a good time. Being single-minded can be a good thing at times yes. I call this the “masculine” energy in all of us and I think it is an important part that sometimes can be a little looked down upon. I think this is true for the scandinavian culture which I share with you.
Your post reminded me on focusing a little more on fewer things. I tend to be all over the place at times and this is not a style that works very well for me. I’ll try the passioned focus more.
Great to have found the blog.
Focusing on one thing has definitely helped me out, but can be hard to pull off, because there’s too much fun stuff to do.
Good list, I think all these are right on. My favorites are happiness and fun. It’s hard to be passionate when your sad. And, if your not having fun, then there’s really no point in doing it.
João Bayer says
Man, long time i haven’t had the patience to read big blog posts, but when i came across this one and started looking, you caught me!
Great list, great post. Is funny how, sometimes you can find the answer for some kind of problem in your head totally by accident. Some of the words here came just in time, thanks.
Keep the good work going, greetings from Brazil 🙂
well said henri, that’s a very resourceful article , i usually dont like long blog posts but this one is worth reading to the end:)
Good points Henri.
I’ve been thinking about the idea of faster and slower path as well. It’s usually difficult to find the right balance, but if you follow your heart and feelings, you will eventually find it. Maybe the normal 9-5 workweek is actually pretty well balanced… 5 days of work, 2 days off. I try to apply that idea even when I’m not in a “real job”.
Hi! Very interesting blog!
This is one of the first posts that I’ve read of you, and the headlines for your other posts seem very interesting. I agree with you on all the points too, and am happy to be able to say that I think I’ve got them all down. However, I was wondering, when you say that one should be uncomfortable when following a passion, do you mean that one should be out of one’s comfort zone?
That is exactly what I mean, Ara!
rob torres says
This is spot on, love your writing style and mindset… Great points across the board, but #18 is my favorite!
Michelle Sedas says
Outstanding! I love the qualities you’ve chosen. Thanks for including and showing the positive aspects of Non-Balance.
Great post! @MichelleSedas
I wanted to thank you.
I stumbled upon your blog a little over a year ago.
You inspired me to start my own blog.
I now have a 2nd.
Yea, maybe biting off more than I can chew.
For me, it’s all about being passionate and taking imperfect action.
I didn’t wait for the perfect time or perfect situation.
I simply took action.
It wasn’t perfect, but I just had to get the ball rolling and make the necessary adjustments along the way.
Keep up the good work dude.
Stuart Lim says
You are the master of calm. Even your writing reflects it. You have been a positive influence to me and its a great list. I would add being grateful because it makes me appreciate what I have and what I can do with what I have.
Thanks Stuart! 🙂
This is absolutely in line with the worlds shift in paradigm since the financial crisis, where people were left homeless, jobless, moneyless and all the less’s of the world and so what did they do? They persued their passion, the driving force of what they love doing and achieved huge success, why? Because when you love what you do, you change the way you look at things, so the things change, so you change, so your life change and you are no longer so focused on money, but guess what? The money comes anyhow as your focus is shifted! Excellent piece Henri it covers all the key facets we should focus on when we follow our passion.
jennifer stimpson says
Your piece was absolutely brilliant. I’ve already forwarded it on to a friend.
Will get hold of your book.
All the best
A great list to live by as well. Thanks, it puts a great start to my week.
Great post Henri.
Life is about learning who you are and learning to get along with others. Its funny I have found over the years as an artist, the whole art journey is about finding out who you are. I read a book called personality plus by Florence Littauer when I was in my twenties and I would have to say that book has made a huge difference to my life. It is a must read if you want to know about yourself and others.
Great advices in a simple words, Henri ! Thank you so much !
Thanks for this post and video. I have learned about this idea in its many forms and live my life this way, though you say it in a unique way that I find refreshing, not too spiritual and not too jazzed up. I think what you are mentioning is much closer to my experience than the many people who have reached their destinations, because I like to wander and experiment and don’t have much discipline, except in the moment of what is magnetic. Too many motivational people seem to take a very harsh approach to this subject. Thanks again
A nice one Henri..I am so happy I read this piece.I am particularly blessed with the part on fun and perspective.Comparing ones self or output with others most time distracts one from what he should be appreciative of..the small things of life..I also found out that when I like something,I do it with fun.Anytime i start doing something from today and fail to have fun,I will review my initial interest immediately.Thanks buddy and keep inspiring lives.
Jill Pearson says
Your so right about trusting your inner GPS intuition, I so wished I had really listened to mine about 6 years ago. Was working in a school two jobs which I really enjoyed, was 10 mins from home., I’m a plotter but was happy. Until I got an obsession with money which was all in the mind.Then let someone an enemy now, talk me into asking for a teaching assistant post. Yes one was offered to me, my heart was telling me no this is not right. My head was saying go for it. I stupidly took position and have regretted ever since. As post finished 10 months later & had to find other employment. I’ve changed jobs so many times since leaving the school. I now know where my passion was. Now feel like I have lost my way in life. 2008 a friend died, my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer & died in 2010, my husband fell ill at work 2012 & sadly died in July 2013. Feel if I had just stayed at school maybe life would have been a bit easier to bare.
That’s a powerful realization, to see the difference between mind and your Inner GPS. Most people never get to that place. While you’ve been through a lot, notice that it’s your mind again saying that things could’ve been different if you did this or that. We can only do what we can with what we have, so you did your best. Now it’s about living in this moment, and seeing where your GPS takes you next.
Thanks for commenting 🙂
Matt Kohn says
Amen. The things on this list are definitely necessary to be happy and successful in life. The most significant and influential figures in history were all very passionate in what they do. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve found trying to emulate those who are much more successful than you is one of the quickest ways to accelerate your growth. Enjoyed reading this.
I just stumbled upon this post today. This is one of the first posts I’ve seen that addresses really how I often feel about things I’m passionate about. For me they do keep changing and morphing. I do keep having different visions, bring them to fruition and then change course. It’s happened like 4 times now career wise. For me there is a space that is very dark when truly trusting new visions. It’s easy to get sucked into everyone else’s fears for you. I know growth always comes after pain…
Absolutely. We’re all different. Sounds like you’re doing great, Liz. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Good list. I believe that once we follow our Intuition, we start developing these qualities automatically. If we try to develop these qualities through our mind, many times it doesn’t work (my personal experience).
Yes. Most often they emerge naturally as we follow our intuition. Someone might also feel called to explore one or more of them as an act of following their intuition.
Such a great post and thanks for sharing. I’ve always been found wanting in doing all at once… Recently retraced my steps from doing that… However, my interest and passion lie in something else that I don’t need any coach to lecture me on how to go about it but I’m on a different course which actually put food on my table. Every morning, I had to do stuff that would put me in the mood before I can kickstart the day’s job. Always thinking in my mind that time is of the essence regarding my interest. According to a statement on this post, that literally means you cannot compare what life has for you with what you think is right for yourself. Any advice on a way forward?
Thanks for reading and commenting!
My advice is in the post. Just pay attention to what sentence, or section, in the post resonates with you, and that is what is relevant to you 🙂