007: Discover Your Passion
I want you to think about your job…. Would you still go to work every day even if you weren’t paid to do it? That’s the passion that I’m going to be talking about in this post. That’s the passion that I have for what I do, and that’s the passion I want you to have too. But how do you discover your passion?
Story of a scared kid
Let’s start off this post by sharing a personal story.
A ‘passion’ is something personal to everyone who has one though, so it’s not a bad place to start.
Growing up I was always scared.
There was always one thing I could think about to put knots in my stomach no matter the time or place. To try and keep it out of my mind, I would do anything.
The older I got the more frequent it would come up.
People would even start asking me about it. My friends, my family and my teachers; everyone wanted to know the answer to one question. “What do you want to do for the rest of your life?”
I mean how can you answer that question when you’re only 16?
It didn’t get any easier at 18 either. Turning 20 made it no more tolerable. Presently, when working a full-time post-graduate job at the age of 25, it’s still the most difficult question to answer.
I struggled through all of my teenage years trying to answer that question, or trying to avoid it altogether.
It was hard enough choosing what classes to take, which would mold the future and pave out a career path for me. I used to think, “Just do what you enjoy now and worry about what you’ll do later.” Meanwhile, some of my friends had already planned out the next 20 years of their lives.
They were sure that they wanted to become doctors or teachers while I didn’t have a clue. I enjoyed art, I loved creating thing but did I really want to do that for the rest of my life? COULD I even make a living out of what I enjoyed doing?
A common, soul-destroying myth
I’m an avid believer that you can do anything if you work hard enough at it. And, I’ve seen enough evidence of people making a living doing what they love to enforce that belief.
The problem is that when you’re in school you’re told that you should know what you’re going to do every day for the rest of your life.
There are people who are 50 years old who were told that at school and they haven’t done anything they’ve wanted to their entire lives because they’ve been stuck with that mentality.
I’ll just put it straight – everyone who has ever told you that you have to choose that one thing and stick to it is wrong. They’re wrong, and that statement has got the potential to damage your future.
Life is made up of seasons
The things we want to do change all the time.
When I was a kid I wanted to be a professional footballer. Then I wanted to be a professional tennis player. I wanted to be a film-maker. I wanted to be an artist like Picasso. I wanted to win the X factor (that was a poor dream I admit) but my point is our interests change and develop over time.
If you’re anything like me you want to do about ten different things with your one life. You just don’t know which one of those things to pick.
Well I’ve got some encouraging news for you. You can do ALL of those things that you want to do.
Life is made up of seasons. Just because it’s snowboarding weather now, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to go surfing when the summer comes around.
Just because I’m committing my focus to illustration now doesn’t mean I won’t be able to explore film-making in the future.
In fact, the drawing skills I perfect now would heavily compliment storyboarding and concept art in my future.
You don’t have to stick to one thing forever; you just need to commit to one thing right now. But what is that going to be?
How to discover your passion
You may not have a clue what you’re passionate about, and anyway, the word ‘passion’ gets thrown around a lot these days – how do you discover your passion?
It’s another myth that everyone should already know what it is without him or her ever trying to find it out. You need to experiment and explore your interests.
The ‘passion’ comes from enjoying the activity and being good at it too, so you’re not necessarily going to be passionate about it in the beginning.
Just think about the things that you like to do in your spare time. Maybe there are only a couple of things or maybe, like me, there are about fifty of them!
A true passion
For as long as I can remember I loved drawing, designing, crafting, building, acting. I guess you could say my true passion is creating, but that isn’t a very specific job title is it?
Nobody has a specialism as a ‘creator’, apart from, arguably, God.
Over recent years I’ve explored hand-lettering, logo design, website design and illustration. Before settling on my serious pursuit of illustration, I allowed myself some time to explore all these different creative pathways. And, that’s the key, time.
These pathways were all things I liked the thought of doing as a job, but after finding out what the work really entailed, it wasn’t as appealing anymore.
In contrast, when I draw, whether it’s a personal project or work for a client, I never want to walk away from it. There is a passion to just keep creating until I perfect the result – I truly love being an illustrator.
There’s obviously a lot more to being a freelance illustrator than just drawing. There are a lot of challenges to overcome and when you work for yourself. There is lot of paperwork and difficult business decisions to make too.
At the foundation of it all though is a passion. I would do it every day even if I didn’t get paid to. I still do illustration, which I don’t get paid for.
It’s all about the Benjamin’s
No it’s not. It really, REALLY isn’t about the money.
Don’t feel pressurized to do or not do something because of the financial implications of it – that’s how people discover misery.
If you pursue a career purely based on money then don’t be surprised if you don’t enjoy going to work every day.
Much to the contrary of popular belief, you CAN make a living doing what you love.
Enjoy what you do
In conclusion, allow yourself time to explore your interests and don’t feel you have to commit to one single thing for the rest of your life.
In the next few weeks my posts will be diving into this topic of further. I want to explain how I was able to support myself financially while trying to discover my passion for illustration.
I’ll also be talking about why you shouldn’t compare your success to other people you follow.
Enjoy what you do and keep hustling.