106: The Art of Knowing What You Want | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
January 22, 2019   |   Episode #:

106: The Art of Knowing What You Want

In This Episode:

Today, we are talking about the art of knowing what you want and how to prioritize your passions. We’ll be uncovering what you’re really passionate about, the benefits of pursuing your passions, and how you can actually make time for them in the midst of your everyday life.

Show Transcript:

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

Show Transcript

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.  

I want to talk about that in just a few minutes. But first, let me give you a quick  word from our sponsor. FreshBooks has a cloud based accounting software that  they’ve designed so it’s not only ridiculously easy to use, but it also makes your  workday even more productive. You can create professional looking invoices in less  than 30 seconds, and even set up online payments with just a few simple clicks. Some  of that stress we were just talking about, well, FreshBooks helps take that stress and  the extra work out of it when it comes to keeping on top of your finances.  

Customers who use FreshBooks save an average of two whole business days’  worth of work every single month, thanks to their simple, streamlined process.  FreshBooks, has generously offered a free, unrestricted 30 day trial for all my  listeners. Simply go to freshbooks.com/paradox. In the section that says, how did you  find us? Type in Productivity Paradox, and that’s all you’ll need to do.  

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.