A Painfully Simple Guide To Following Your Dreams
Passion isn’t easy
“God, I’d kill to feel more passionate about what I do.”
That’s what I used to think whenever I’d sit down to work and my mind remained stubbornly empty. When I felt distracted and unmotivated and like every idea I’d ever had was a crappier version of something that had already been done.
I’d have done anything for a little of whatever it is that compelled Van Gogh to paint or fuelled Hemingway’s need to write. What I wouldn’t have given foa a taste of whatever it is that drives Adam Sandler to make shitty movie after shitty movie when any sane person would just quit.
I wanted to wake up in the morning and have my first thought be something more meaningful than what’s happening on Twitter. To work from morning till night and feel like the time went by in a flash. I wanted to discover that I’d forgotten to eat or sleep or worry about what other people thought I should be doing with my life.
I understood that life wouldn't be a picnic, even with that certainty. But knowing what to do is better than not knowing, right? Having a fire blazing inside you is better than feeling dimmed. Surely Bach never had days when he woke up and felt like every note he would ever play had been played better by somebody else. Dostoyevsky never worried that his style was too verbose to capture the attention of his contemporaries. They didn’t agonise over every word and note, the act of creating was, for them pure freedom.
That freedom was all I wanted because I hadn’t thought about what it required. I wanted to feel the work pouring out of me as it does on those rare good days, to stop craving validation as soon as I’d hit “Publish”. I wanted to work without insecurity or fear or uncertainty. To know that what I was doing was valuable.
But as time passed, I realised that that was my problem. I wasn’t struggling because I didn’t know what to do, I was struggling because I wanted it to be easy to do it. Uncertainty isn’t cured by passion, uncertainty is just nature’s way of separating those who are willing to quit from those who aren’t.
Passion has nothing to do with art or music or poetry or film. It’s just the unwillingness to give up. No matter what. The same stubbornness stirs the heart of the artist and the teacher and the painter and the entrepreneur, and passion is the word we use to make it seem like it came easily.
Passion isn’t easy. Passion cost Van Gogh his ear and Bach his hearing and Hemingway his life. Passion is the willingness to put one thing above all other things. And the truth is, most of us aren’t willing to do that. If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us would rather live a comfortable life where we get paid a nice, steady income in exchange for spending forty hours a week doing work that doesn’t thrill us.
We want safety and security and stability, and passion doesn’t offer any of these things.
Passion isn’t easy. But it’s simple. All you need to do is do something over and over again until you get good at it. That’s what motivates you. After all, it’s easy to do things that you’re good at.
Once you get to that point, keep doing it until people realise how good you are. That’s what makes you consistent. After all, it’s easy to keep doing things when people praise you for doing them.
Oh, and one more thing; you need to refuse to give up. That’s how you succeed. After all, you can achieve anything as long as you refuse to let anything stop you.