I've been sick in bed for the past four days. I was barely able to move. I wasn't able to do a thing (ok, it wasn't that bad).
Today, I finally started feeling a bit better. And the first thing I could think about while taking my morning walk were ideas about things I could write about.
I wrote all of my ideas down on a post-it. Within ten minutes both sides of the post-it were full of ideas.
I also had to think about one of my last posts where I talked about finding your passion. I came to the conclusion that finding your passion is about doing things that amaze you. That you love. That you would also do if no one paid you for it.
But I somehow got the feeling that this wasn't enough. That there has to be more to this.
How do you even know if you really love something? You might think that you love something for ten, twenty, thirty years and then all of a sudden you realize that you don't. Boom! Gone. Forever.
So here are a few things I believe are a pretty good indicator that you really love something (and should put all of your energy into it).
# TRIAL & ERROR
A lot of people believe (including myself until quite recently) that finding the things you love and are passionate about is a linear thing. That it's something that you've been good at all of your life. But I feel that the exact opposite is true.
When I was young I was very good at all sorts of sports. I was good at football, basketball, track & field, you name it. I actually never lost a sprint in my entire life. And you know what I'm doing right now?
Every single day, I'm sitting on my ass in front of a laptop, writing about all sorts of stuff. I'm doing the exact opposite of what I was good at back then. I always sucked at writing in high school. I was really, really bad. I was one of the worst in my class.
Still, that's what I'm now doing (or at least trying to) every single day. And I guess the reason is quite simple. We're not really interested in the things we can get quite easily. We lose interest in these things quite fast.
For most of us things have to be challenging. Every single day. If it's not challenging enough we lose interest. Or start to hate it.
Just like people say that men lose interest in women that are crazy about them. Just like people say that women are not interested in caring, loving and affectionate men (in the long run). They want a challenge.
We all enjoy a little challenge. And the best challenge is to conquer someone, to become good at something we suck at and to prove someone wrong. I guess that's sort of human nature. We always prefer taking up a challenge. A challenge that makes us feel alive, instead of feeling dead inside.
At least until we reach a certain age. Then we usually lower our standards and start settling for a lot less than we actually deserve or are able to achieve..
# SICK IN BED
If it's the first thing you can think about after you've been sick for a few days that's probably quite a good indicator that you really love what you're doing (even, no especially, when you're not getting paid for it).
For example, I could have thought about all sorts of things, instead of thinking about stuff I could write about. A big fat steak. Mhhhh. Getting out for drinks with friends. Going out for a party. You name it.
But the first and only thing I could think of doing today was writing. And nothing else..
# IF IT GETS DIFFICULT
The moment you start getting deeper into a subject that really matters to you, it'll start to become difficult.
When you start caring about something it means you want to be really good at it. And that's the moment when it gets difficult. And hard. And that's where a lot of people quit.
Because failing at something you deeply care about, something you felt like it's your purpose in life, is not just a possibility, but it's almost guaranteed. So instead of embracing our fear we simply stop.
But once you hit that point you need to keep on pushing. No matter what. Because that's the only way you can give your gift to the world. That's the only way to mastery.
The gift this world so desperately needs..
If I don't write, I read. I read because I know that I don't know anything about writing. Fortunately, there are thousands of other people out there that know a hell lot about writing. That know a hell lot about how to write.
I believe that only once you're willing to accept the fact that you don't know anything about your art, does it mean that you truly and deeply care about it. That you really love it.
Only if you're able to leave your ego at the door and are willing to learn from the masters (and even less skilled people), does it mean that you truly and deeply care about something. That you ultimately love it..
# NO EXPECTATIONS
A good way to test whether or not you love what you're doing is to ask yourself the following question:
Would I also do this if I didn't get paid for doing it?
I guess that's the ultimate question. If you say no, that's quite a good indicator that you don't really love what you're doing.
I'm not saying that everybody should work for free, not at all. I just feel that this is good way to test how serious you are about it.
To be absolutely and totally sure that you love something is that you don't have any expectations, whatsoever. But this is an absolute zen-like way of seeing things.
Even I expect something in return for my writing. I expect (actually I hope) that people like my writing. And that it makes them rethink their now. That it makes them rethink their perspective on some things.
Or at least to ask themselves questions they would otherwise not have asked themselves..
Oh wow, I guess I need a quick break before jumping right into the next point. My head starts spinning a bit. I think I'm not fully operational, yet..
If you truly love what you're doing you stop thinking about what others might think about you. You simply don't care about it anymore. What you start caring about are the people that think like you.
You stop caring about gatekeepers, naysayers, critics and everybody else that wants you to continue living your life in prison. Society's prison.
Instead, you'll express your truest, inner most self and create things without thinking about the norm. You create things that inspire other people to do the same. You create new things, amazing things, unconventional things and things that not only break the rules, but that create new rules.
Not only do you stop caring about common conventions, but you might even start changing a few people's lives. Or the way they think about themselves. Or the world around them. That's the true gift of doing what you love and giving back at the same time..
Doing what you love is not easy. It's very, very hard. You might lose some friends, your gf/bf or whatever. You'll have to sacrifice a lot. You'll have to say goodbye to eating fancy diners, driving a fancy car, living in a fancy apartment and many other things.
And not just for a short period of time. Maybe forever.
You might never be able to afford the same things you would have been able to afford if you stayed at your day job. That's just a matter of fact. And believing that doing what you love will one day allow you to live a similar or even better life than the one you would have lived if you stayed at your day job is just a big fat illusion.
It might work out for some people. Will it work out for you? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not..
# YOU BUILD YOUR LIFE AROUND IT
Doing what you love will ultimately require you to build a life around the things you love.
A life that allows you to still be able to somehow pay the bills while doing what you love. Because being able to pay the bills doing what you love might take many, many years. Or you might never be able to pay the bills. Who knows?
The funny part about it is that you still have to believe in yourself that you'll be able to make it nevertheless. Paired with a bit of realism, the best solution (at least for me) is to build some stuff around my writing that somehow pays the bills (even though none of it has really worked out, yet).
So you will not only have to focus all of you energy on doing what you love and becoming one of the best and most talented at your craft, because that's the only way you might maybe one day be able to pay your bills, but you also need to build some stuff around it that pays the bills.
If that sounds like too much work, you might not really love what you're doing.
But who am I to talk about any of this? Don't listen to me. Don't believe me. You should never ever believe me. Just try.
After having read all of this and you still believe that you really and truly love something, just do it. Now. If you believe that you don't truly love what you're doing, do something else. Life is short. Don't waste it doing something you don't love.
You might have loved it yesterday, last year or when you were still a kid. There is no guarantee that you'll still love doing it once you're old and retired. That you'll still love it in twenty or thirty years.
We change. A lot. So do the thing you love right now. Don't wait for you to change. Do it while you still love it. Don't even waste a single second.
If you want to do what you love, don't wait for tomorrow. Because that tomorrow will probably never ever come..