“Don’t follow your dreams; chase them.”
“Follow your passion” is a cliché that gets thrown around A LOT. I absolutely believe that people should do what they love (I mean we’re talking I quit my full time job to become a solopreneur!), but let’s be honest. That phrase doesn’t tell you how to do anything.
When you do decide to take the plunge, here are four no-nonsense ways that can turn your passion into an effective plan.
1. Translate emotions into ideas
If you’re unhappy or apathetic in your situation, don’t fall into the trap of making any change just to change things up. Find out exactly where your internal compass should point before you make any big decisions. Ask yourself:
+ What do you love most about your job?
+ What could you imagine yourself enjoying every day?
+ What are your strengths?
+ What specifically would you like to change about your situation?
I worked in advertising for 20 years but was so restless, like I needed a new shot in the arm. I approached the change thoughtfully by answering the questions above:
+ I loved helping others find the job of their dreams, or at least imagine it
+ I imagined myself coaching people to lead better careers and lives
+ I am personable, energetic, motivational, and decent at public speaking
+ I no longer loved my work (can you say wrong job?!) and wanted to follow my passion
All of these elements eventually came together to form one specific thought: start my own leadership development company. Translating emotions into ideas turned my passion into a new career path.
2. Find someone with a map
“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen,
and a push in the right direction.”
–John C. Crosby
A mentor is like a friend, trainer, and encyclopedia rolled into one. The best mentors will share your same passion but be more familiar with the terrain, so they can tell you which roads to travel and which are a waste of your time.
This is exactly why I joined the John Maxwell team. I wanted (needed!) to know speakers and trainers who were already doing what I wanted to be doing. It was a no-brainer decision to get me connected to people who could teach me and guide me in this new venture.
If you’d like to reach that next ladder rung at the office, try asking for advice from folks two levels above. Want to launch a business? Pick the brain of a dozen successful entrepreneurs and see if any would be willing to keep in touch regularly. (And of course, if you ever need a coach and cheerleader, I’d love to help you reach your full potential.)
3. Be S.M.A.R.T.
I used to hate SMART goals. They felt so HR-ish to me. Now though, as a business owner, I'm finding enormous value in the accountability of SMART goals.
Huge, conceptual goals are often intimidating and confusing. I mean really, how do you even start tackling something like “start a non-profit”? Instead of taking big things head on, it's often helpful to break them into smaller S.M.A.R.T goals.
· Specific: be clear and unambiguous
· Measurable: track results to know when the goal is reached
· Achievable: make sure the goal is realistic
· Relevant: check that it’s related to your overall purpose
· Time-bound: establish a beginning and end
Setting the right kinds of smaller goals makes you more likely to reach them, which will build momentum for big wins. And did I mention that you’ll feel like a million bucks knowing your cranking your way through?
4. Treat learning like a job
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain
of improving, and that’s your own self.”
The faster you gain the key skills necessary to success, the faster you’ll reach your goals. Let’s say that you want to be the top salesperson at your company. Then you’ll need to perfect your cold calling strategy and sales pitch, right?
Treat learning like a job. Get your hands on every piece of knowledge and training that will help you refine your dreams into awesome, real life skills. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations that force you to “level up” and break through mental barriers. It won’t be easy but it will be worth it when your dreams become reality.
Now when someone says to you, "Follow your passion," you'll know exactly what to do.