Three years ago I sat at a career crossroads. One path was clear, certain and safe. It included a reliable paycheck, benefits and familiar work. The other path was not clear, it was not certain, and it was not familiar. This path was winding and all I could see for sure was lots of working hours and potentially lots of hot dogs and Ramen noodles. I made my decision based on the one thing the winding path offered that the clear path never would; the opportunity to follow my passion and maybe, just maybe, make the business world a better place.
Some of the most financially successful people of our time have listed following their passion as one of their keys to success. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook said “I think it’s important if you’re going to take on any big challenge, that you just love and really have faith in what you’re doing. That I think is the most important advice I would say.” When discussing his secrets of success, Warren Buffett expressed the importance of finding what brings meaning to your life and making it your focus each day.
Tapping into your passion and leveraging it for your success seems like a simple idea. But how do you get started? How do you stay on track? Here are three tips to get your further down the winding path.
Start by brainstorming. Answer these questions:
- What is your “why?”
- What would you do if you lived in a vacuum where there were no limitations and success was guaranteed?
- What would you do all day every day even if I didn’t get paid for it?
- What makes your heart sing?
- What skills have you mastered that give you a sense of fulfillment?
When you align your passion with your work (in business or in your personal life) you will discover that you have more energy and more drive. You are able to creatively solve problems and you achieve a sense of fulfillment that is an inspiration to others and a source of happiness for you. Pursuing your passion also increases your chance of achieving financial success. So how do you leverage that passion?
- What’s the plan? You’ve determined what you’re passionate about, so now what? It’s time to come up with a plan. Perhaps your passion is streamlining workflows for maximum efficiency. Determine where you can use this passion; do departments within your company need this kind of assistance? Is it something you could consult with other organizations on? Establish what your goal is and design your plan of action around that.
- Look (and listen) for opportunities: One of my clients recently told me that all of a sudden things are falling into place for her and the people she needs to connect with are crossing her path all the time. She even hired a key person for her staff based on a chance meeting in an elevator. Magic? Nope. Once you have established a clear goal and understand how you can be a resource to others by doing what you love, you will recognize opportunities that may have been missed otherwise. Watch out for opportunities to be a resource to others in doing what you do best.
- Stay focused: Whether your passion is to write the next great American novel or open a shelter for dogs, there are likely to be some bumps in the road along the way. Recall your passion and remember why it is that you started down this road in the first place. Keep your goal in mind and don’t let challenges derail you from where you’re going and why you want to go there.
- Find a mentor: It’s important to have someone to turn to when things get rough. Especially when that someone is a person who was once where you are now. Someone who learned the secret to success – and is willing to share it with you! Don’t know where to turn? Try findamentor.org. It’s a free website with a database of mentors and apprentices.
- Hang out with the right crowd: Spend time with optimistic and encouraging individuals. Ditch the naysayers and cozy up to the “you can do it” crowd. Negative people are like energy vampires that can suck the life – and passion – out of you.
“Follow your passion, and success will follow you.” Terri Guillemets