According to research done by author Cal Newport, the phrase “Follow your passion” started appearing in publications around the 1970s and has grown in popularity ever since then.
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The truth is that if someone is pursuing their passion simply because it’s their passion and are not depending on it to pay the bills, then it is probably safe to say there is nothing particularly dangerous about that.
The danger comes when people set off on a journey to do what they love as a source of income without yet having a way to support themselves until that day comes. If no one will pay you for your passion then, in essence, you will be passionately broke. In order to avoid this plight of the “starving artist”, your passion must be supported by something you are alreadygetting paid for until the passion can support itself.
In order to achieve this, you must develop valuable (and preferably unique) skills for which people will pay you, and then work on those skills until they will pay you more than you are currently being paid. Sometimes that “unique” part is simply doing the job with a better attitude. As Jim Rohn once pointed out, “McDonald’s will pay you six dollars per hour to take out the trash and they’ll pay you seven dollars if you whistle while you do it.” Sometimes the best skill someone could work on is their attitude.
The reason for developing valuable skills is because we can only receive more value if we are first willing to give more value. Once you’ve made yourself more valuable to the market (your job, potential customers, etc.) only THEN can you expect to receive more value through the form of income which can then lead to pursuing something you’re more passionate about. In short, you have to first build a supportive foundation on which to build something you are more passionate about.
The Freedom of Control
Often we hear about how that control is like a prison, and when dealing with the untrusting and micromanaging side of control, this is true. I want to deal with another form of control; one that is far more liberating. The form I’m talking about is the control that comes with being able to decide (for the most part) when you do what you do and how you do it. No one gets to do these things all the time, but as I said, for the most part.
We desire the control of our lives, but you must EARN this control by building valuable skills that will place you into a position where you can exercise more of this kind of control. For instance, the man or woman who has developed the skills to become the head of their department generally has more power to decide what to do with their time, as long as the work gets done, than the clerk in the cubicle. It isn’t that the clerk is any less valuable as a person, but the clerk’s skills aren’t valuable enough for the employer to extend to them that kind of freedom.
This is why you have to build up your cache of skills first, and then use those skills as your “currency” to be able to make more and better decisions in life. This may call for you and me to do things we don’t love, but we can potentially use those things to move us toward something we dolove, however long that may take.
-In times past, when someone wanted to unlock a door, they would use an uncut key with a piece of wax paper wrapped around where the cuts in the key would be. They would then stick that part of the key into the door’s locking mechanism, gently turn it back and forth until they could see the impressions of the locking mechanism imprinted on the wax paper, and then use the wax paper as a sort of “pattern” from which to cut the key into the shape needed to open that particular door. Given the technological advancements in locking mechanism on doors, this is no longer an effective approach, but it worked at the time.
First, we must decide that we are willing to commit the time necessary to building a certain skill. Every skill we build is like cutting another notch into our “key” until we are able to use that key to open doors of opportunity that may have been closed to us before we developed those skills.
This can lead to our being able to do what we love because now we have the skillsets necessary to first give value to the world which then causes the world to give value back to us in whatever form we consider to be valuable.
In the Right Place, with the Right Skills, at the Right Time
When you develop new and useful skills, your chances of ending up in the right place, with the right skills, at the right time are significantly increased. Of course, nothing is guaranteed, but with all the opportunities out there, you have significantly increased your chances of doing, not just what pays the bills, but doing something that brings fulfillment and satisfaction
It all starts with your willingness to do what is necessary for the proper length of time in order to get to the place of doing what you love!
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