Thursday, September 18, 2014

Follow Your Passion as if Your Life Depends Upon it, and It Does!

I totally believe in the value of taking time to explore who we are, what we want, and pursuing what we love. I hear people saying that they value their health but do not work out, or I will hear someone say that they love to see plays and have not seen a play in years. However, there are other people who I never hear saying what they love or desire at all.....

I found this article on this topic that was written by Vania Kurniawati, and I must share it here!

Also, here it is in it's entirety:


Call me entitled, lazy, or crazy… but I was tired. I was living New York City, working for one of the most admired brands in the world. I was on track for a promotion at work, and I had plenty of leisure time to be spent with great friends. I was living my dream... and I was deeply depressed. The decision to quit my job without plans of what’s next came to me one morning when someone casually asked me how I was doing and I said I was “hanging in there.” He replied, “That is SO last year!" It resonated with me (thanks, Todd!) - I was done just hanging in there, I wanted to thrive and to wake up in the morning feeling excited for once. Yes, I needed the money and I didn't know how I would live without a job, but I'd made up my mind.
That was four months ago. Somehow, it all worked out. I have zero debt (and have yet to worry about money), am happier than a kid in a candy shop, and am excited about my career again. Looking back, it's clear to me that I needed a break, but I always thought a break was for people who just lost their spouse, fought a deadly illness, or worked 80 hours a week in an abusive job they hated… I thought I most definitely did not need or deserve a break, but I was wrong. I don’t think a lot of things are life changing (okay, having bacon for the first time is life changing, I agree), but in four months, my mini retirement changed the way I approached life. In The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business, Charles Duhigg talked about a “keystone” habit as one that inspires a wave of other changes. As an example, the sense of accomplishment you get from quitting smoking or committing to a regular workout routine can empower you to make other improvements in life. For me, my mini retirement was that keystone habit and it led to three major changes:
  1. I started thinking outside the box.

    It became easy when you’re no longer bounded by any box. Before my mini retirement, I couldn’t envision a career beyond my world at the time. I kept looking at jobs that were nearly identical to my last job. I took a lot of vacations. I wanted to see the world and I did, but I was never able to really take advantage of it and be in the moment. In the back of my mind was this persistent worry that I was wasting my time and that I should be out finding my true calling.
    After I retired, I changed my approach and only explored opportunities with companies that truly inspired me, regardless of whether I had the specific experience they’re looking for. My naive enthusiasm paid off: I met some amazing people at LinkedIn, airbnb, Warby Parker, and more (and much to my own surprise, scored some offers too! And yes, I was met with some rejections as well).
    My mini retirement expanded my world. I learned that life is not about what you can and cannot do; life is about what you want the most. Despite what society tells you, you don’t actually have to have a job and despite all your financial obligations, you can quit your job if you really want to. You could be living in the woods, fishing and hunting for your meals, or growing your own vegetable garden. Okay, that might be an extreme example, but there are people who live happily on a $58 monthly food budget (yes, normal Americans with iPhones). If you could happily live on a $58 food budget, how would that change your approach toward work?
  2. I started doing really awesome things.

    Almost immediately, the opportunity to do really awesome things came to me - things that I didn’t know I wanted to do and things that I didn’t realize I was capable of doing. When you stop chasing the wrong things, you gave the right things an opportunity to catch up with you.
    I helped my incredibly talented friend pitch his startup idea (now a full-fledged company!) to the CEO of Gilt. I saw Bill Gates, Sr (yes, I was starstruck!). I learned to swim and concluded the summer swimming with giant sea turtles off of Maluaka Beach. I spent hours writing random things ranging from short stories (unpublished and mostly half complete) to business reviews (posted on various forums), which led me to an opportunity to advise small businesses in my area on improving customer experience and leveraging technology for scalability. My mini retirement gave me back my most precious asset: my time. With virtually all the free time in the world, I finally understood that life is not a race against time. It never was, even when I felt like I needed more hours in the day. Everything will happen in its time.
  3. I re-evaluated my life.

    You are what you think. In Love yourself like your life depends on itKamal Ravikantdescribed how learning to love himself literally nursed him back to physical and emotional well-being, and led him to a much richer life (it's a powerful short read, and it's free on Kindle Unlimited). I started reflecting on my priorities and whether I was dedicating time and energy to what I thought to be important. If you asked pre-retirement me what my priorities were, I would say my family, my health and personal growth. But if you look at how I spent my days, you'd never have guessed these were my priorities. I barely talked to my family, only spent 1-2 hours a week at the gym, spent most of my time drinking and dedicated virtually zero time pursuing personal growth. I actively made blocks of time for family, health, and personal growth during my mini retirement. I also took a hard look at the people I let into my life (and I stopped talking to a handful of my so-called friends). What I didn't expect when I started doing this is that I started seeing the best in people.
I hate to admit this because it sounds kooky, but when I first started my mini retirement, I said to myself every morning a line I remember from Microsoft's DigiGirlz Camp,
Run in the direction of your biggest and brightest dreams.
I'm still running toward my biggest and brightest dreams, which can be kind of intimidating when I don't really know what they are. But I learned that I don't need to know what they are, I just have to take that next step, because the next step is the only one that matters. As Steve Jobs said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect the dots looking back."
Should you quit your job and take a leap year? Maybe. Take a break and truly let go, however that looks for you - be it a week in the wilderness admiring nature (don't eat the poisonous mushrooms!), two weeks on a remote island reading books (read Andre Agassi's Open if you haven't already) with no access to the outside world, or a year spent reconnecting with your passion and priorities. It seems counterintuitive when you've been fighting so hard for what you want, but I found that sometimes letting go is the only way to get what you truly deserve and taking a break is the only way to get clarity.

I hope that this spoke to you the same way that it spoke to me!

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