You know, there’s a fairly standard saying in the world of career advice. Life is short, so do what you love.
Actually, I think this is half right. Given current life expectancy estimates, the average American will live well into her late 70’s early 80’s. Easily. Which means, life is actually pretty darn long. So, don’t waste a minute of it. Focus on the things that you love doing, and do them as often as you humanly can.
Because this advice is often given in the context of career advice, I believe it’s viewed too narrowly. Find the things that you love doing, and do them as often as possible (as long as they’re legal, somewhat, and do no harm to yourself or others, full stop). For work, for hobby, for pure joy, for all of the above.
This is so important, for a whole bunch of reasons.
For starters, we tend to raise the expectations that others have of us, above the expectations that we have of ourselves. To the extent possible, avoid doing this at all costs. Your voice is the only voice that, in the end, really counts.
Second, it’s an absolute truth that you tend to love the things that you’re really good at. The more time you spend doing the things you’re really good at, the more rewarded you’ll feel. A sense of accomplishment, or at minimum, a sense of satisfaction, is sure to result.
Third, focusing on the things about which you’re most passionate tends to bring pure joy into one’s life. Pure joy, proven scientifically, reduces stress, blood pressure, and bad cholesterol levels, to name a few. People who are happier, believe it or not, do live longer. And if you’re spending most of your time doing the things that you love doing, you’ll want to live longer so that you can keep doing them. A virtuous circle, if ever there was one.
Fourth, focusing on your passions makes you a more interesting person. Full stop. If you’re bored, then you’re boring, and if you’re interested, then you’re interested. Being passionate makes you more interesting – it makes you a net contributor to the universal stream of passion, goodwill, and positive intent. It makes you a force to the good, on many levels.
The key task, then, is to find something you’re truly passionate about.
To do this, ask yourself a few questions:
1. If you could, how would you spend the majority of every day?
2. What are you better at than anyone you know?
3. What do you want to be better at, than anyone you know?
4. What were you doing the last time you laughed so hard, you cried?
5. When you daydream, what do you daydream about?
Take the time to reflect. To find your pure passion. To relax the constraint that it must be a career, or a vocation, or something at which you can make some money.
Instead, simply focus on the thing(s) about which you’re most passionate, and focus on it relentlessly. You’ll be so glad you did.