Some thoughts on the subject of passion

I’ve been reading Cal Newport’s blog and he has changed the way I see “passion” and finding your purpose in life. 

I’ve read a lot of blogs and seen a lot of videos where it all appears so simple. 
Just go within, find what you love, quit your job and be happy! Live an extraordinary life! Don’t let society’s expectations hold you back! Live the dream! It’s within your reach!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found this as simple as it looked. I’ve gone within and came back not a bit wiser about specifics concerning my “purpose”. It has exasperated me beyond words. It even went so far that I had given up on it all together and decided to live a life without goals.

Maybe this works for some people, but it really sapped me of my motivation and energy. It’s at this juncture in my life, where I was utterly clueless and demotivated, that I found a new and refreshing view that made the whole concept of “find your passion and do it now!” less scary and more down to earth. 

According to Cal Newport, if you want to do something remarkable with your life, you will first need to acquire the necessary skill and expertise, this takes time and hard work. Not hard as in unpleasant, but it will require you to dive deep into the subject and find out all there is to find out. No quick-fix solutions, no “just be courageous for a second and live happily ever after”. 
Maybe you’re wondering why I’m so happy about this. I’m happy because it’s real. If there isn’t one special thing I am “born” to be doing, I don’t have this sense of the clock ticking and my purpose slipping further and further away from me. I can find fulfillment in anything I choose, as long as I get to the bottom of it. You will feel passionate about what you’re doing when you become better and better at it, and I think this notion makes a lot of sense. You don’t need to be a total anti-conformist to find fulfillment. You don’t need to travel the world or become a yoga teacher. 
Of course if you are dreadfully unhappy and unfulfilled, I’m not telling you to stay put and keep the status-quo. I’m just following Cal in his notion that you shouldn’t expect things to be easy and your dream to be achieved in an instant. Get to the bottom of things, and learn to love knowledge again. He refers to it as craftsmanship, slowly but surely perfecting your skill and putting in the effort for it every day. 

when you make something your profession (for example, writing, counselling, teaching, alternative medicine, massage-therapy, etc), the people you work for, buy your products, read your works deserve your expertise and skill. 

So, stop looking for what you are good at, and start looking for what you want to become  good at, what you want to spend years perfecting. 

Some interesting posts from his blog:

Are passions serendipitously discovered or painstakingly constructed?


It’s not about You: David Brook’s contrarian advice for college graduates

Beyond passion: the science of loving what you do

Zen and the art of investment banking: when working right is more important than finding the right work

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11 thoughts on “Some thoughts on the subject of passion

  1. ~~~S Wave~~~ says:

    I’ve written a lot about this journey of fulfillment, passion, “work.” I think even the answers that sound easy are actually very complex and take much work to master. The quips and proverbs are just to whet our appetite! 🙂 Still, every person finds their path in their own way. What resonates for one doesn’t resonate for the other. I look forward to reading some of Newport’s writing! Thanks for the lead.

  2. Visionkeeper says:

    You always hear when you are doing something you are passionate about, you don’t even notice time flying by. So if you really are interested in something and go after it, it won’t seem like hard work because you won’t even know time is whizzing by 🙂 I look forward to searching Cal’s website. Thanks for sharing! VK

    • Eline says:

      That’s certainly a part of it, VK 🙂 Time flies by for me when I’m writing a story, but I never seem to be able to finish it. I think when you master the basics, the harder parts, of a certain “craft” you can start flowing with it, but it doesn’t always happen right away, I think. Maybe I’m mistaken ^^

  3. Lisa A. McCrohan says:

    Eline,

    This is really beautiful. YES, making “following our passion” all about being way carefree and butterflies and rainbows is unrealistic and, like you said, can leave us feeling quite exacerbated. Yes, what is real is — deeeeeeeeep listening…and that takes “effort”, it takes being quiet, it takes honoring the movements within us. I takes time to develop a deep posture of listening and being mindful. The “fluff” around “finding your passion” is — well — part of the “give it to me now and in thirty seconds” kind of global world we are in right now. Our hearts don’t speak like that. And “mastery” takes TIME. It takes focus. It takes devotion. It also takes balancing being IN the world and then retreating — honoring the need to digest things, to clear things out, to allow what we have learned or practiced to take up residence in us.

    I have spent, gosh, now probably thousands of hours in counseling and mindfulness and yoga with clients. I have spent thousands more reading, studying, meditating, writing, sweating, in silence, and discerning. The nuances of my “craft” shift over time — and it takes a daily practice of meditation and mindfulness (and compassion, and forgiveness) to discern those nuances.

    You so beautifully describe the journey of “becoming”. Thank you, Eline.

    Love,
    Lisa

    • Eline says:

      Thanks Lisa 🙂 I think beautiful things can be achieved when people take the time to really become good at something. It also takes the pressure off, because you’re not expected to be “born” perfect at something. You can take the time to perfect your chosen craft and failure and trying again is just a part of the process, and shouldn’t be seen as something final that means you have to give up. That’s the danger of the “instant” culture: it doesn’t work right away? well, try something else. You could spend your life hopping from one thing to another, when true, deep focus comes from within and grows when you give yourself the time to really immerse in the material, the job at hand.

      Thanks for stopping by, beautiful soul 🙂 Much love to you!

      • Lisa A. McCrohan says:

        Eline, yes, are you so right on! It does take the pressure off of not having been “born perfect”. Have you heard that it takes about 10,000 “practices” to master something — violin, etc.

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