Without passion you don’t have energy, without energy you have nothing.
A few months ago, my weekends used to be similar to a lot of my friends and colleagues – wake up late, play video games for a few hours, browse the net, grab a few sandwiches from the store for lunch, watch a movie or two, and go out to drink in the night. Even now, when I put it all like that, it doesn’t sound bad at all. In fact, many people (that means most of my friends) would say that it couldn’t get better than this. Most of the people I knew back then, led a very similar lifestyle – one that I used to fantasize about in our college days. The salary we get lets us afford such a lifestyle, and then some. We used to tell ourselves that we were still young and had at least a decade before we settled down, so, we might as well enjoy the time we had.
I spent the past weekend in a similar vein, but not out of choice. I knew that with a party on Friday and my friend visiting and staying the night on Saturday (which meant more drinking) I wouldn’t be able to get much done. So, I thought that I might as well spend the weekend like I used to. Just to see if the old lifestyle still had the power to tempt me into regressing. Sunday night, before going to sleep I realized that however fun it might have been, given a choice, I would not do it again. I felt the truth of what had started a few months ago – I could either go on living my everyday boring life and unwind on the weekends, only to repeat the process all over again; or I could give up my comforts today to make sure that the life I want to live becomes a reality in a few years, rather than hoping that it might happen 30 or 40 years from now.
What brought about this change was growing dissatisfaction with my job. I just didn’t feel I could go on living the rest of my life like a mindless drone. Having slogged for more than 50 hours a week for 3.5 years was enough for me to know that I just can’t go on living like this. And, considering it was my first job out of college, I could only see more slog hours in my future. I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Everyone around me felt the same (at least, everyone my age) and wanted to escape. So, they did what most of the people were doing. Seek employment with another company or pursue a master’s degree. However, neither of the options appealed to me. There was no guarantee that I wouldn’t end up slogging for more hours in a new job. Or worse, in a job that I didn’t like at all (unlike my current job). Money was not a motivator for me. It still isn’t (I can live on half my current salary). But now I do appreciate the fact that it is important for survival and is a great enabler. I acknowledged that there was a serious problem and was desperate to find a better way to live.
My search led me to this TED talk (by Scott Dinsmore). It is about finding & doing the work that you love. After watching it something just clicked into place. I can honestly say that it was the biggest aha! moment of my life. It shattered quite a few beliefs that I had grown up believing. Once those were pointed out the only thing I could think was, “This is so obvious; how come I didn’t see it before?” But, more than that it showed me that a way exists to live the way you want to and get paid to do the work that fulfills you and satisfies the deepest human need for contribution beyond one’s own self. Even though the talk is well worth watching, it can be summarized in 3 points.
Become a self expert – Learn what set you on fire and makes you happy. Then use it to define your own success.
Do the impossible – Do things that you thought were impossible for you, like losing a few pounds, or running a 10k. Take small steps to build your confidence.
Surround yourself with passionate people – If you surround yourself with people who are doing what you dream of doing, there is no way you can not succeed at it.
I have been on this path for nearly half a year now. Not a day goes by that I don’t believe that there is a greater purpose in life. An opportunity to contribute by helping others. A chance for being who I am, and being truly happy and fulfilled. And, this dream can come true for each of us. Those who dare to dream it, and are willing to walk the tough road that leads down it. We can all contribute to helping each other make this world better. It is not a one man show, nor can it be achieved by a few brave heroes. For all of us to live a happy and fulfilling life, the progress has to happen with each of us and in small steps. It is the only way to make a lasting change.
There are thousands of ways to make this journey. Each as unique as we are. But, the first step is universal. You must have faith. You must believe that it is possible, even when there is no guarantee of the results. The first step is the hardest one. You must battle every belief you have had until now, you must defy the ways of society, and most of all you must change your own perception of the world. There are a lot of us, those who support each other on this journey. People who believe in helping because they live by the credo of giving unselfishly. But, this first step is yours alone to take. It might seem like taking a plunge into an unknown abyss, but is well worth it. Do you have the courage to take this leap of faith?