On Monday, I read an article written by Carly Jacobs who writes over at her blog, Smaggle. And I’ve not been able to stop thinking about it since. You know how I was talking about the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon recently? Well in addition to mindfulness, a lot of things relating to passion have been cropping up around me lately (and yes, I think there is a correlation which I’m keen to explore into the future).
So today I’m going to write about Carly’s thoughts in an attempt to clarify some of my own views on the topic and maybe, just maybe I can gain some further understanding about what passion is for me.
Passion, by the dictionary definition, is a very strong feeling about a person or thing. It is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything.
In Carly’s post, she shares a view that there are some things in life that you love and then there are some things that are a real passion and the key to telling the difference lies in whether or not you love the process.
Over the last couple of days, I keep harking back to her post in my head and have actually gone back to read it a couple of times because I’m not 100% sure if I agree or disagree. My initial read had me agreeing wholeheartedly with her – it makes sense to me that if you love the act of ‘doing’ what is required to pursue your passion then it must be a true passion, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder how other aspects factor into the mix, such as one’s personality or ability to act.
Let’s take me for example (after all, this blog is all about me isn’t it?). My personality lends itself to taking a big picture view of the world and as a result I often see the opportunity or potential in things. I can get very ‘passionate’ or invested in certain topics, projects or ideas and throw myself into things that I believe in wholeheartedly. This means that I’m not particularly good at the detail and I find that if left to my own devices for too long, the novelty wears off quickly and my motivation wanes, often leaving me to question my love/passion for that particular topic, project or idea in the first place. So whilst there’s no question that I display passion for and am passionate about certain projects or things I’m involved with, I have been struggling to really identify what my true passions in life are.
This sets me off on a number of different thought pathways. Does it mean that I’m not passionate about the project/topic/idea per se but I am passionate about the development and strategising aspect of said project/topic/idea? Or perhaps it means that I’m passionate about the idea or potential of a project/topic/idea but not enough to sustain my involvement in things for long enough? And it leaves me wondering if this quote by Albert Einstein sums me up:
When I drill deeper into why my passion waxes and wanes, I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of it actually has to do with time management and being organised. Not in the sense of everyday time management but more so in terms of organising my thoughts and prioritising where to invest my time. This has been a challenge for me at home and I do tend to subscribe to the adage of a cluttered environment equals a cluttered mind. For me, things can’t ‘start’ until I’ve done x, y and z. This means I am a master procrastinator as I justify to myself that I can’t possibly sit down to write a chapter because I need to declutter my study or get my house tidy before I begin. So I jot down notes in various notebooks scattered about the house with the intention of picking things up and getting stuck into it once x, y and z have been completed.
I mentioned at the start of the year that I have an issue stilling my mind. Because my mind is always on the go with a million and one different ideas and thoughts churning non stop, I can’t seem to distill the things I want to prioritise and focus on. And because I can’t articulate and clarify it, I put off doing things and find excuses not to act but in doing so my brain whirls even harder thinking about what I would have written if I gave myself the time to sit and do so. It’s a vicious cycle and as such, I tend to have a crack at a heap of little things as opposed to having a very clear approach as to how I’m going to pursue the things I’m passionate about.
But should that make my passion for something less valid, simply because my personality and ability to enact upon it is faulty?
Most people I know would consider me to be very organised and on the surface I can see why they do. (If you’ve ever done Myers-Briggs before, I’m an ENTP that masquerades as an ENTJ!). From the outside I appear to juggle all the balls and keep them in the air, doing a pretty good job of it in the process. I’m the go to person for information, particularly if people know I’ve made a purchase or have an interest in a topic because I tend to research it to the ‘nth’ degree making me quite knowledgeable about a lot of things. I not only push deadlines to the limit, I thrive on doing so and I always deliver. I am incredibly loyal with a fierce sense of pride so I’m willing to burn the midnight oil to get a job done or task completed. There’s no question that I am a typical type A personality.
But for some reason, when it comes to pursuing my own goals or allocating adequate time to dedicate to things I’m passionate about, I waver, not because I don’t want to do it, but rather because my mind is churning so rapidly 99% of the time that I come home and crash, struggling to muster the energy to pick up and continue to pursue my own stuff outside of a pressing deadline or requirement to do so.
This has definitely been the case with my writing. Much like Carly, writing is also one of my passions and I do love the process of doing it. When I have the time that is. In a corporate environment, where there are clear expectations I put considerable time and effort into it, often to the annoyance of my work colleagues as I’m usually pushing up against deadlines as I am always wanting to get a report or briefing note just right before it goes out. But in the past few years since I’ve been starting to explore my creative writing side again, I find that because I don’t have the expectation or the deadlines to hold me to account, I think about sentence structures and one-liners, story ideas and character traits all day long but I don’t actually make the time to sit and get it out of my head and onto a page.
My passion for writing actually consumes the majority of my waking day and a lot of the time in my dreams as well. I wish I could get myself to a stage where I have proactively made time to write (hell, this whole blog is a testament to that challenge this year). But again I question whether or not that makes my passion less of a passion? Just because I’m not engaged in it (or the process of it) 24/7, should the fact that I haven’t mastered the ability of getting my shit together be held against me?
I’m not saying that Carly is wrong by any stretch; on the contrary, what she says actually resonates deeply for me. But it does cause me some concern to think that the few things that I have left in my life after paring back the things I used to be passionate about to accommodate my young family may not actually be passions. And if they aren’t passions does that mean I am floating aimlessly and living a mediocre life?
Whilst I’m willing to concede that some of the things I’ve been involved with may actually be loves that I have engaged passionately in, I want to go back to the dictionary definition of passion for a minute. Passion is a very strong feeling about a person or thing. It is an intense emotion, compelling enthusiasm or desire for anything. Nowhere does it stipulate, at least by the dictionary definition, the requirement to act.
And so I arrive at the end of my post (because if I don’t end it soon I will be watching the sunrise for sure). I still feel unresolved around the topic of passion and when I pair the idea of passion with the concepts of mindfulness, fear and deliberate intent it opens a whole other can of worms to wrangle. This year, I promised myself that I would live more fearlessly and committed to challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone in order to pursue my dreams with a lot more deliberate intent than I have done in the past. For me, this year and this blog to a certain extent is a part of the journey in exploring my passions (or potential passions). So, let’s park this topic and whether or not my view aligns to Carly’s thoughts for now shall we? Because if there is one thing that I do know that I am ridiculously passionate about, it’s my sleep and at 2.45am, my bed is calling my name!
If you know what your passion in life is, how did you work it out? Any tips out there from a ‘P’ type personality also masquerading as a ‘J’ type?