Many of my writing themes revolve around following your passion. It’s a popular concept in the self-help genre, almost to the point of being a cliche. We have all encountered someone who has found their true calling in their life’s work and to witness it is a beautiful thing as these fortunate few have realized their destiny. Pure joy, fulfillment and purpose emanate from their very being.
But for many of us, when the rubber meets the road, following your passion may not be a viable pursuit when faced with paying the mortgage and cost of living expenses. The more realistic approach may be to follow your effort. Your passion may be where your heart lies, but effort is where you are channeling the majority of your energy. This paradigm shift may align you more realistically to reach your potential and ultimately offer greater happiness.
Take a moment to reflect on where you are focusing your energy on a daily basis. The best indicator of where your journey lies may just be where you apply your time. Your career and/or studies may not tug at your heart strings, but hopefully it piques your interest sufficiently enough to pursue this path and maximize your effort. From a pragmatic perspective, it may be in combination with a special talent you possess and/or help you achieve certain financial goals to improve quality of life. Play to your strengths or, as the ancient Greeks so aptly put it, “know thyself and your limitations.”
The good news is that following your effort typically creates a chain reaction: The more time and effort you exert honing your craft, the better you become; The better you become, the more you enjoy what you do; The more you enjoy what you do, the more passionate you will become about it. Through the process of hard work and dedication, you gain expertise in your field and a greater appreciation for this discipline. The culmination of all this rewards you the ability to live with intention in a pursuit filled with purpose. It may not be the romantic or ideal approach, but it is the prudent choice once we recognize we are each dealt five cards and must play the hand we were dealt.
As we discover our path and focus on living with intention, the following may be a helpful priority list:
- Know and live with your values.
- Be mindful of your strengths, talents and passion in life and use them.
- Set a clear vision of your goals for yourself, your family, your career/schooling.
- Emphasize your relationships as the top priority in your life, especially the one with yourself.
- Constantly work on being the best version of yourself.
- Embrace an attitude of being grateful and not taking success for granted (our brain tends to focus on the negative, so we have to consciously shift this one).
- Focus on something bigger than you.
The key is to understand we are always arriving at that proverbial fork in the road that challenges us with the notion that if we do not choose to live with conscious intention, we will live with unconscious intention. Therefore, to live with intention means proactively making choices in your daily experiences. It means taking ownership on every aspect of your life and not making excuses for yourself. Not a simple task, but a blueprint to continuously aspire for and be mindful of because a fulfilled life – with meaning and purpose – is harnessed by living with intention and striving for your full potential.