All goals have resistance along the path to achievement. At every instance of resistance, you have the same choice.
A) Give up.
At this point in history, it’s been shown repeatedly that persistence works. Overcome resistance on the 341st try and it still counts. People have conquered so many different types of challenges with bleak odds that “I can’t” doesn’t even make sense anymore. So how do you know if your goal is one that you’ll go the distance with? The short answer is passion to see it through, and here is the long answer:
It’s only when your own failure, safety, and embarrassment become secondary to your goal that you are ready and willing to go the distance with it. Anything less than that will result in hesitance or giving up in the most critical stages of adversity and uncertainty.
It only takes one obstacle that you’re unwilling to overcome to ruin your goal.
Why We Give Up
We give up sometimes because we know there are easier ways. The easy way is rarely the best way, but easy is always tempting because it’s the most comfortable way. Life is a balancing act between taking risks and feeling secure/comfortable. As risk rises, comfort falls. This is why passion is necessary to succeed (see this link to read my own counter argument) – it increases the importance of taking certain risks above the importance of staying comfortable.
In regards to the goal you’re thinking of right now, if you find yourself worried about failing, finding a way to make it work, how inconvenient it would be, or avoiding embarrassment, you aren’t passionate enough. You shouldn’t start a goal unless you’re committed to it (or else you’re abusing motivation).
Do You Have The Passion? Here Are Two Ways To Get It.
1. Focus on why you want to pursue this goal.
What about it is important to you? Are you willing to take a risk on it? How important can it be if you’re not willing to risk much for it? With reflection and consideration, you’ll discover if the goal is or is not important enough to you. When you grasp that something really does mean the world to you, you’re going to pursue it with reckless abandon, and that’s how stuff gets done.
If nothing you know of stirs up that kind of passion, even after reflecting, maybe you haven’t found it yet. Some people don’t find it until late in life. It isn’t always obvious, and it isn’t always easy to find like the movies have you believe (“The chosen one” BS, haha). For some of us, it actually takes adversity to “awaken” our passion. It did for me.
2. Adversity may trigger your passion.
I graduated college with a degree in Finance in the summer of 2010, and I began to look for jobs. Due to the high job seeker/job ratio and perhaps bad luck, I was unable to secure a job for about one and a half years. My mindset as I graduated was to “get a secure 9-to-5 job and earn a decent living.” After feeling so rejected and still believing I was capable, my career plans were turned upside-down.
“If they won’t give me a chance, I will,” I said out loud. My passion was growing.
For 25 years, I toyed around with the idea of entrepreneurship and being my own boss – never very seriously because a regular job was supposed to be a given. My passion was average. But when I failed to get a job after going the safe route, I thought, “Now I don’t see why I shouldn’t try something myself.” The reason I hadn’t tried before was due to my mediocre passion, which could be seen in my fear of failure.
Getting rejected was exactly the adversity I needed.
I never would have started the blog if adversity hadn’t cornered me. Adversity and passion are counter-forces and one will lead to another. In this example, adversity made me passionate, but also, once you pursue an important goal passionately, you’ll face adversity!
The way to lose is to respond to adversity with passivity and submission. Do this and your life will be bland. You won’t get what you want out of life.
When I finally did get a job 1.5 years later, I was supposed to be thrilled to have any job, but I quit on the first day. For the first time, I was able to confidently say, “this job is a hindrance to my dreams.” I never would have dared to say it before, but I was full of passion. Since then, I’ve been working a flexible contract job that pays exactly twice as much as the job I quit and gives me freedom to pursue other ideas.
When adversity is the inciting catalyst for your passion, it is due to a “back against the ropes” feeling inside you that removes fear. You become just like the hero in the movies, hanging on to a thread with nothing to lose. I became many times more passionate about life as a whole after I struggled. If you don’t think you’ve faced this yet, maybe you have but haven’t acknowledged it. Maybe you’ve already chosen to react passively to it. I can’t know everyone’s situation, but nobody has smooth sailing from birth to death. Use “negative” events and situations as positive catalysts for passion. Taste defeat and you will no longer fear it.
Martin Luther King, Jr – A Passionate Man
In King, Jr.’s case, he began with a passion for the cause of racial equality and the adversity he faced fueled him further.
To further illuminate King, Jr.’s passion, examine the following excerpt from one of his speeches. Notice how he values his own life less than doing God’s will (his underlying passion). Observe his complete lack of fear. See how he acknowledges adversity, but doesn’t let it affect his plans.
This was the last speech Martin Luther King, Jr. ever gave. He was assassinated the next day.
And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats… or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. [applause] And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! [applause] And so I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
April 3, 1968
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s passion was indisputable and his purpose was clear. It’s why he succeeded with, in my opinion, one of the greatest and most difficult feats in history.
Don’t be afraid to set your sights very high. In fact, easy goals are more challenging in a way because they lack the meaning and adversity that fuels passionate motivation. Lofty goals have the highest passion potential, and as we’ve discovered, great passion is a formidable force.
Discard fear. Be passionate. Go.