“If I could just find my passion, then I could succeed.”
Have you ever had this thought? I’ve had it before, but I’ve since realized it’s completely backwards. It is the first passion myth.
Myth: Passion Is Found
Truth: passion is not found, it is developed.
Consider this: even children who seem to have been passionate straight out of the womb have at some point been exposed to their area of passion. Your first exposure to anything isn’t typically enough to determine if you’re passionate about it.
I’ve loved the game of football since a young age, but when I saw my first few football games, I was like, “What is going on? Why are these guys wrestling in the grass?” Over time, I learned more about the game, saw Barry Sanders play, and my passion began to grow. Then I started throwing the football with my dad, and playing football in the street with my friends. That’s how I became a passionate football player and fan!
Today, I’m very passionate about writing. It’s my career and a source of great pleasure. But when I first started writing, it was a bit like feeling my way through the dark. I didn’t know what I was doing. My skill and passion for writing developed from nothing as all passion does.
Myth: Passion Fuels Success
Truth: Success fuels passion.
Admittedly, this is only part myth. Passion and success cyclically fuel each other. So the important question is which comes first.
Success comes first 83% of the time, but most people believe passion comes first 100% of the time.
The first success might be subtle. Success happens on many different levels, and as Mini Habits teaches, no amount of success is insignificant. Before I had success with this blog and my books. Heck, before this blog even existed, I wrote notes on Facebook. Friends would sometimes comment on the humor in my writing or the ideas I shared. It wasn’t much. I think it was about five people who’d comment or like my posts.
This was my first success. It didn’t make me money. It didn’t reach many people. I wrote something, and it gained a positive response from someone else. To a new writer, that is a resounding success. As a result, I wrote more, my skills improved; my writing passion seed was planted and it has grown to the point of weaving into my identity!
Myth: You Need to “Be Passionate” About Something to Succeed and Be Happy
Truth: Your cares and your habits are more important.
In movies, you may have noticed the not-so-subtle message that passion is the holy grail of life. We watch movies for their emotional punch, whether it’s making us laugh, cry, or smile. They are emotionally saturated versions of real life. Since movies influence our perspective of how life should work, it’s no wonder why so many people feel lost without having the same level of passion that their favorite movie protagonists have.
Give me the choice between having passion for writing and having a good writing habit, and I’ll take the habit, please! Habits are the foundation for a good life, whereas passion, feeling emotionally drawn to something, comes with no guarantees of progress or action.
Passion is revered, but it’s not everything. I know I had some passion and desire for writing before I had a writing habit, and it wasn’t enough. In fact, it was often a hindrance, because I thought that I could or should only write when I felt inspired.
It wasn’t until I developed the habit of consistently writing that I succeeded in expanding Deep Existence’s readership and selling books. I can tell you the specific turning point.
In mid-to-late 2013, I had seen success with my push-up mini habit turning into a gym habit, and I wanted to get those results elsewhere, so I started my writing mini habit of 50 words per day. The consistent output enabled me to write a guest post every week for the Dumb Little Man blog. (You can see my posts here, scroll down until you see Stephen Guise.) Actually, my favorite post out of the hundreds I’ve written is a guest post for them called the James Bond guide to ultimate confidence.
Writing for them consistently brought me about 100 new subscribers a week. Do the math and that’s 5,200 subscribers per year! Passion gets all the credit in movies, but in real life, habits bring results.
Caring Is Enough
Instead of being passionate, it’s okay to just care about something. Caring is a choice, meaning anyone can choose to care. Passion is volatile, uncontrollable, and affected by your personality and emotional make-up. Some personalities might not ever feel passionate about things.
Passion is wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not required to have an excellent life. It’s an emotional bonus.
If you’re an emotional person, I can understand the frustration of not having a passion, as you likely look to your emotions to guide you. If this is the case, and you really feel you need passion to be happy, who am I to say you don’t? In this case:
- Continue to explore and try new things. If something is interesting, try it again and you might develop a passion for it.
- Look to what you already care about to be a potential source of passion. People can become passionate about almost anything: collecting corks, learning languages, traveling, golfing, knitting, geocaching, ocean life, optimizing businesses, solving any of the world’s many problems.
- If you know an area you’d like to be passionate about, but it isn’t quite “clicking,” create mini habits in that area to fuel skill development and success, which as discussed, can then fuel your passion.
Whatever you do, don’t wait for passion to slap you in the face. If you really want it, you have to create it.
Passion is a wonderful, wild thing. My views on it have changed substantially over the years. I used to believe these three myths:
Passion Myths Recap
- Passion is found
- passion fuels success
- We need passion to be happy
But since adjusting my perspective to the following truths, I’ve been happier, more successful, and yes, more passionate!
Passion Truths to Remember
- Passion is developed (often intentionally, though not always)
- Success fuels passion and usually comes first
- Passion without sustainability may weaken and die. Passion built upon strong habits and caring about something can last a lifetime.