The Big Idea
Our passion and purpose are hidden in plain sight.
Questions I Answer
- How do I figure out my purpose?
- Is there an exercise to help me discover what I’m passionate about?
- How can I make time to do the things I love?
- How do I know if I should do something I’m passionate about?
Actions to Take
- I want you to really uncover and think through what is important to you. Make your list of interests and passions, prioritize that list, and then carve time out of each day, or at least out of each week, and dedicate it to pursuing the interests that are important to you.
Key Topics in the Show
Why you should uncover your passion and pursue it
How to know if you’re truly passionate about something
An activity to help you discover your passions
Making space & prioritizing the things that are most important to you
Welcome to season nine of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast focused on using productivity, not just to do more, but to achieve what’s most important to you. Join Tanya has she kicks off the New Year with a special season titled, New Year True You. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.
And now here’s your host Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is Episode 106. Today’s episode has been brought to you by FreshBooks. Looking for a way to streamline your finances, FreshBooks has you covered. Packed full of powerful features, it takes the stress out of running your own business. And they’re going to be offering a free 30 day unrestricted trial for my listeners. So, I’ll share a little bit more about that later on in the episode.
But I want to dive into today’s topic because as I mentioned last week, in our first episode of Season Nine, this season is called New Year True You. Every single episode all season long is going to hone in on the various aspects of our lives that we might want to tweak or improve a little bit in order to bring out our best possible selves. What I like to call the true you.
Last week we talked a lot about habits and how they can really be good for us if we set ourselves up with the right ones. Habits are a foundation for really getting to the true you because while each episode will tackle all different kinds of topics, habits can be the tiny little movements that get you to that life you want. But what if you don’t know what you want? That’s a big question, right? But don’t worry because today I want to talk about the art of knowing what you want. Or I very easily could have called this episode, How To Prioritize Your Passions. Because we are going to talk about why you want to pursue your passions, how you can uncover what you’re really passionate about. And then how do you actually make time for those passions? That’s a big one right there, right?
Today is centered around what you want to do in life. What drives you? What motivates you? What are you truly passionate about? Before we dig in, let’s not forget that I’m always reminding you that you have to start with the why. Whenever you’re pursuing anything, be it a goal or a project or a hobby or a passion. Let’s start there. Why should you pursue your passions?
Well, for starters, a recent study published by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine concluded that pursuing your passion not only reduces your stress but also contributes to greater overall happiness. In the study, researchers discovered that participants who engage in hobbies were 34% less stressed and 18% less sad during and after doing those activities. Less stress, greater overall happiness, that seems like
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two really good reasons to chase after whatever you’re passionate about, don’t you think? Isn’t that what we’re all after increased happiness and some self-fulfillment?
I have a feeling that the true you is happy and fulfilled, don’t you think? I read a story a few months back about a guy named Andrew Ray who has a popular Binging with Babish YouTube channel, but before he chased his passion, he’d been overcome with depression. It wasn’t until he combined two of his passions, food and filmmaking, that he discovered that his passion really could result in a successful and a rewarding career. Ray now has over 3 million subscribers, and he attributes his current state of happiness to the fact that he followed his passions, and he stepped out of his comfort zone. According to Andrew, whether those things become hobbies or your life’s work, pursuing your passions can give you a renewed sense of meaning and accomplishment.
I have to agree, it seems like there’s a lot to be gained by following our passions, wouldn’t you think? I know for me, the foundation of inkWELL Press is centered on my own three passions; being a teacher, motivating others and productivity. All things that I feel incredibly passionate about, but seemingly unrelated. When I first came up with the idea that I had these three passions, I was like, what am I going to do with these three things that are unrelated? I had to create that thread to connect them.
Very similar to Andrew, I created a way to make those a centerpiece in my own life, and I’m so much happier for doing that. I really truly believe that pursuing your passion is important. But before we get into some tips on how to find your passion, I want to be realistic with you just for a minute. We’ve been talking about all the great benefits that can come from pursuing your passions but I don’t want you to think that if you uncover your true passion, suddenly the skies will open up, a rainbow will appear and you’ll hear some angelic epiphany music and then you’ll skip off into the sunset live happily ever after. That really sounds nice, right? But it’s not really that simple. Because let’s be honest, doing what you love doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy or effortless. Hopefully, it will bring you more joy and happiness. That doesn’t mean there won’t be obstacles or roadblocks in our way. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have frustration or shed some tears or lose sleep.
Here’s the truth, doing what you love doesn’t mean loving what you do every single day. The reality is, the only way to know if you’re truly passionate about something is to think about whether or not you’re willing to take the good with the bad. It’s not one or the other, there’s going to be bad that goes along with that good. There’s always going to be both. So, are you willing to pour your blood, sweat and tears into whatever it is, you’re considering, no matter what. There’s a reason why they say no pain, no gain, because we can’t really appreciate the gain or the reward if we don’t have a little pain along the way.
I think a good example of this is how we paint the image of owning your own business as oh my gosh, this wonderful world where you don’t have a boss and you set your own hours and so much freedom that comes with it. I’m not going to lie, I love owning my own business, but it’s not really the rosy picture that people make it out to be. Owning a business and owning a thriving business are two very different things. There’s lots to consider. I take my job as a boss very seriously, because
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everybody on my team, they count on me, and I would never want to let them down. So, there is a lot of stress, a lot of uncertainty. Those hours you get to set, there’s a lot of them. There’s meetings with accountants, there’s lawyer calls to figure out copyrights, there’s payroll taxes, and well, you get the idea. Those things come with the territory.
I don’t wake up and every day jump out of bed and say, “I can’t wait to get to work.” There’s hard days for me, just like there is for you. And just like there is for everyone else. But overall, I’m so happy with what I do. I am passionate about what I do. So, I have to be willing to take the not so great things along with the wonderful parts of it.
When you think about the negatives, ask yourself, are you willing to suffer through this in order to get to this life you want? For me, as a business owner, I’m willing to do that. But when you’re pursuing a passion, go into it eyes open. Think about the negatives that can come when you’re pursuing any passion and decide if you think the rewards outweigh the risks. If the benefits outweigh the efforts, and I think that’s really what’s important here is that we understand that passion doesn’t necessarily mean that every day is going to be easy. But what is it you are passionate about? That’s the big question.
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Okay, let’s jump back into that topic of what you are passionate about. Because I want to talk about how do you identify your passions. Now, obviously, I can’t tell you what you’re passionate about. Only you can figure that out. What I want to do is give you some guidance on how you can pinpoint some of your passions and how to cultivate those things in order to help you become a better version of yourself.
There are five things I want you to think about as you’re trying to discover what you are passionate about. The first thing is, think back to your youth. When you were younger, what things did you love to do? What really got you fired up? I’m not talking about torturing your little brother, I’m talking about the hobbies or the interests you had when you were a kid. Sometimes those interests have been buried away for so many years under the reality of having a job and paying bills and taking care of kids and whatnot. So, they tend to become lesser of a priority in our current life. But take a little bit of time and reflect back to the things you loved before your
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realities changed your life. Maybe, push those interests aside. Remember when you didn’t have the obligations or the bills to pay? You had the freedom to try new things. Revisit those memories to help you uncover some of your passions.
The second thing to do is eliminate money from your mindset. Now, I know that is not necessarily realistic to eliminate money. We all have needs for money. But just for a brief moment, let’s take that out of the equation and think to yourself, what would I do with my time if money wasn’t an issue? Maybe pretend that you’ve won the lottery and you no longer have to keep your current job. Bills, no longer an issue. Boy, this sounds like a great life. What would you do with your minutes, your hours, your days? Would you use your time to help children? Would you spend your hours gardening? Would you join a charity? Would you volunteer to serve others? Would you go back to that hobby you used to do before you are clocking in at your current job? When you remove the obligation of things like paying bills from your mindset, it frees up your thinking to explore ideas and interests you maybe wouldn’t ordinarily consider.
The third thing to do is ask your friends or your family for some feedback. Sometimes you need someone outside of yourself to help you identify things that you do well, or things that seem to bring you happiness. Maybe your best friend notices that you’re always in a happy mood humming tunes when you’re baking in the kitchen, or maybe your mom reminds you of how much used to love that photography class you took back in college, and how she still has some of the prints you made back then. Or maybe a friend acknowledges how good you are at planning events and coming up with all the details to make things really look beautiful.
It seems funny to think that others might know us better than we know ourselves, but we have a tendency to forget the good. We gloss over some of the happier things in life because the negatives, well, they can be really, really loud. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy, our harshest critic, and we need to be reminded of our potential by those who can see our happiness when we’re doing things we unconsciously love to do. They hear us humming or they see us smiling even when we don’t even realize it. So, lean on friends and family and see if they have some ideas for you.
The fourth thing is consider things that inspire you. Think about the things that motivate you, or get you going. Maybe peruse through a college catalog or flag and highlight the classes that interest you. I know that I get a community college magazine every semester. I like to look through there and see if there’s anything that looks really interesting to me. What courses draw me in? What looks compelling? By the way, you don’t just have to look at it in terms of what classes would you take, you could also think about what classes would I like to teach. You might start to see a pattern in the things you highlight. Look for an affinity to things related to history, or maybe a love of science.
Another way to inventory your interest is to look through things that you like to look through on the internet. What boards do you have on Pinterest, or what things have you saved on Instagram? If you have dozens of boards related to home improvement, maybe you have an affinity to interior design or home improvement projects. Start to look for some patterns, and I’m sure some will start to emerge.
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The fifth thing you can do is think about mentors, heroes or cheerleaders, past or present. Think about people who inspire you; big people, the small people, everyone from maybe your dentist to celebrities on TV, what do they do? And why do you find them so inspiring? Maybe that creative writing teacher back in high school reminds you of how used to think about writing a book someday and how much of a cheerleader she was for you back then. Or maybe someone in the professional world who’s doing what you long to be doing? Think about what it is that draws you to them. Read up about their career path and maybe what they did to get where they are now. Or maybe it’s even a friend who keeps saying that you should start some sort of home organization business because every time she comes to your house, she sees how everything’s in order and looks so great. Start to really pay attention to who are the people that you respect and admire, and what is it that you respect and admire about them.
That’s just a few strategies to start assessing your life, both the past and the present. So, what’s next? Well, while you’re taking the time to check out every nook and cranny of your life and finding inspiration, I’d recommend you take some notes. Write down anything that interests you. Just keep a running log, don’t worry about it, don’t take the time to filter it in your brain, just write it out. When something pops in your mind, add it to the list.
Well, while you’re doing that, what you’ll start to see is you’ll start to see these threads to connect and you’ll start to see patterns emerging as you write them down. That’s the benefit of seeing it written out in concrete terms. You might find you have more passions or interests than you ever even realized. So, let’s take a minute and toss in a little bit of ice cold reality. You might look at that list and say, “Great. Now I have a super long list of things I wish I could do. But I just really don’t have the time to do these things. Now, what?” Well, now it’s time to make room, to make space for those passions.
First, let’s work on correcting our mindsets a little bit. Is it really that we don’t have time for these things? We all have the same 24 hours in a day, the same 168 hours in a week that everyone else has, and somehow other people are out there doing things they are interested in. So, what’s the difference? Well, the difference is that they make it a priority. That’s the keyword here, priority. Really, it’s not a matter of time, it’s a matter of priority.
The next thing I’m going to challenge you to look at is that long list. Think about what things interests you the most and arrange your list so that the most important things are at the top, and the ones that are of lesser importance lower on the list. Can you think about picking maybe two or three to focus on. And then look at those two or three and see, are there any connections? Maybe the three you picked are related, somehow. If you see any similarities between them, perhaps there’s an opportunity to combine them into one passion like I did when I created the idea for inkWELL Press.
When I made my list, I had way more than three things I felt passionate about, but I focused in on my top ones. Now, it could be that your top priorities are nothing alike, and that’s okay too. Really, what it comes down to is carving out time in your day. Setting aside 30 minutes to work on that idea or that hobby or whatever it is
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you’re passionate about. Maybe give up your nightly dose of TV binging or skip the time you spend after dinner watching those really funny cat videos. I know, they’re slightly addictive. But instead, schedule that time to work on things you really are passionate about. Notice that I said a really important word there. I said, schedule it. I didn’t say, think to yourself, “Oh, I won’t watch TV. Maybe I’ll do this.” I want you to pencil it into your schedule.
Why do I want you to do that? Because, well, you schedule everything else in your calendar, don’t you? You put in your dentist appointments, your work meetings, your kids activities in the calendar, we treat those as important. Isn’t this time for yourself, isn’t this time for your passion just as important? If it’s important to you, then I say the answer is yes. So, schedule it. If you don’t schedule it, you might find yourself making excuses about the laundry needs to be done instead. I’m going to tell you the truth, the laundry always has to be done. But it doesn’t have to be done instead.
But really can’t you just stick the laundry in, let it do its thing, and you spend that 30 minutes focusing on the things that excite you? I’m pretty sure it’s not laundry that excites you. At least I hope it’s not. Maybe it is, everybody’s different. But I really want to encourage you to stop looking at your passion, stop looking at the things you really want to do as extras, as something else to do in your day. Instead, allow them to be a priority for you. Allow them to sit front and center of your day, schedule it into your calendar and make it happen.
All right, so now you’ve made your list of interests and passions. You prioritize that list and you’ve carved time out of each day, or at least out of each week, I hope, to focus on those things that matter most. These are all great steps in an effort for self-improvement.
Let me ask you a question, what would life be like if you did spend more time on what you’re passionate about? I can go ahead and give you the answer if you want. But really, it comes down to happiness. You’re going to be happier if you’re spending time on things you love. It doesn’t matter if you’re wanting to turn your passions or your hobbies into a new career, or just have them as a relief valve from the daily pressures of everyday life. Either way, you’re going to find improved happiness and reduce stress from finding and pursuing the interests that really are important to you.
I want you to think about that, I want you to really uncover and think through what is important to you. We’ll be talking about this even more in depth in my Facebook group. Plus I’m going to be tying in this whole idea and concept of The True You into my challenge next month in that group. So, now would be a great time to join. Just go to inkwellpress.com/group for an invitation on how to join. Next week we’ll continue the topic of New Year True You by talking about creating timelines, looking forward towards the future. Because I want you to continue to focus on finding your true you. Until next time, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.