Breaking the Rules of the Passion Based Life


Maybe it’s just me, but I’d say there’s been a movement lately. A movement all around how to live a passion based life. And with any rebellion, there starts to become rules about how to do it right – rules about how to rebel – which is sort of silly because isn’t the point of the rebellion to do your own thing in the first place? ANYWAY.  .  .

Whether or not you know it, you’ve become aware of a few rules about the right (and wrong) way to do this passion based life thing. And doing it wrong gives you a lot of anxiety. I know that it does because I get a lot of emails from you all every week with questions and concerns about the very things we’ll be talking about here today.

I want to break the rules of the passion based life so that you know you don’t have to do it the way they say you do, but that you can make up your own rules.

Let’s commence with the rule breaking now:

Rule Number 1. You need to have just one passion – and if there’s more than one you have to find a way to combine/condense them all into one to have a successful career doing what you love.

Wrong. Life’s just too full of interesting things not to be multi-passionate, if you ask me. And the truth is, you don’t necessarily have to choose just one thing to be the next thing you do in  your career. It may be that you are able to easily do more than one thing you’re passionate about in a single job (for example I get to coach and write in the work I do), but if that doesn’t work out for you, don’t worry.

Life will allow you to do everything you’re passionate about in time. Maybe you won’t do everything as a career. Some things you’ll take up as hobbies, some as aspects of your career, and some as major career focuses.

Also, if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s change. So if you’re looking forward to the day when you get to live out some passionate dream you have, keep working towards and planning for it. Your career can morph in the direction you choose to take it.

Don’t fear that your passion has to be singular and static. Passion is a living and breathing thing.

Rule Number 2. My passions won’t or can’t make me a lot of money.

Nope. This simply isn’t true. Why should it be? Because many of us are passionate about things that are “artistic” or are in some way “softer” we automatically equate that with the idea that we’re going to be doing what we do for love and not for money. If this is what you want, there’s no problem with that. But if you want to find a way to make your passion pay your bills, there’s every reason to think that it’s possible.

The secret (yes, I’m spilling the beans here) is to structure your business so that it actually makes you money, and to weigh what you give up in doing so in terms of passion (if anything) against what you gain in terms of income to find the sweet spot for you.

With some creativity and deep thinking about what is really right for you, you can structure a business that supports both your passion and your lifestyle.

Rule Number 3. To follow my passions, I must live an unconventional, nomadic or location-independent life.

Not unless you want to. Geez, this one really irks me. I get a little frustrated with this one model of passion based living, which is the “location independent lifestyle.”

Now, maybe you are ready to pick up and leave everything behind if you just knew that one thing you really, really wanted to do. Maybe, if you sat straight up out of bed tomorrow and it hit you like a thunderbolt, you’d pack your bags as quick as you could and head for whatever exotic and sweaty location you were called to, to carry out your mission.

But I’m guessing probably not.

I’m guessing that there’s more that ties you to wherever you live than just not being 100% entirely sure of what comes next for you. There’s probably family of some sort. Friends. Obligations, financial and otherwise. And given all that, it would probably take you a while to make this transition in the thoughtful and adult manner that you make transitions and decisions in.

Do you worry that all this level-headedness makes you too rational? Do you sometimes think you should pack your bags as fast as possible and be spontaneous?

I think that only really works in the movies. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The real path to fulfillment is not in being rash, but in being honest – about your values, your needs and about who you are and how you feel comfortable moving through your life. Honor all of that.

Don’t think there’s only one model for embracing a passionate life. You can take on a passionate life one step at a time from right where you are.

Rule Number 4. I can’t start a business or get a job with my passions because I’m not an “expert.”

Really? First of all, chances are you’re probably more expert than you give yourself credit for. Second, even if you have some learning to do, there’s no reason you can’t do it. You may decide that you don’t want to make the investment it would take to become a doctor at this point in your career – but that doesn’t mean a career in medicine is out of your reach. Whatever it is that you yearn to do, you can find a way to do it and gain the skills and credentials you  need to be paid to do it.

Rule Number 5. It’s too late.

This one really is a matter of choice. As mentioned in passion based rule number 4, you might decide you don’t want to make certain choices or sacrifices at this point in your life – and that makes complete sense.

If it’s something you want so bad that you’re just distraught that it feels “too late,” then you need to do everything in your power to make it happen because no one wants to live with that kind of regret. But if not, think about it this way – it’s just life narrowing your choices (thank you, Life!) because the number of choices really is overwhelming anyway.

Rule Number 6. I don’t know how to start with a passion based business or job.

Maybe you don’t know how to start now, but what about after you do a little research? What if you enlisted some help in the form of family, friends, or coaching? What if you put together a business plan or a job search strategy?

Any big undertaking feels big until we tackle it systematically. We often need a plan, some help and more than one tool in our toolkit.

Rule Number 7. It’s too disruptive to my life/family.

What’s more disruptive, this move or your regret?

If making this move were a problem you HAD to solve, you’d find a way to solve it, right? Well, think of it as a problem of that magnitude. Because living with the regret, the never-having-done, the might-haves and the missed experiences of not solving it are just not acceptable.

Often, the disruptions that happen in lives and families because of moves like this can be managed and minimized. In fact, they can also often be seen as fun new adventures, too! But whatever twists and turns life takes, staying stagnant because of your family or some other part of your life doesn’t have to be the final resolution.

Rule Number 8. I don’t know what I want to do, or what I think I want to do isn’t really all that original or earth shattering.

You can figure out what you want to do. Listen, I know you probably feel like you’ve beaten your head against the wall about it. But I’ve worked with enough people who were in exactly that spot who then got clarity to know that it can be done. You need to look at what you like or love doing (or are passionate about, but don’t get too caught up in that), and let go of fears around it. You have to go down rabbit holes, ask questions, make mistakes, back up and try again, but eventually by feeling your way forward toward what is right for you, you will find something that probably feels like it’s been there all along in one form or the other.

Some people worry that they have a business idea but it’s not completely new. That’s fine. In fact, that’s good because it shouldn’t be completely new. You don’t want to reinvent the business model, just improve how you do business so people want to do business with YOU. Even a small improvement on an idea can make all the difference – and sometimes it’s people’s level of passion in the idea that is that special something.

Rules of the Passion Based Life Don’t Apply to You

Maybe no one has told you until now, but you don’t have to play by the rules. You get to make up your own rules. When it comes to living a passion based life, it really is about doing what works for you.

So what are some other rules that have made you feel constrained, when you should be feeling free and creative? Tell us in the comments below.


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