How NOT Doing What You Love Hurts People


Back in December 2011 the Expert Message Group posted an article by Colleen McCarty.  The words really hit home (“gasps of a suffocating man”) plus the picture is haunting.  I printed it out and had it hanging on my mirror for the next 8 months (until the humidity had so curled the paper I could no longer see it).  I hope they don’t mind but I had to copy it here to save it for my future self to continue to feel its challenge.

I was checking out this recent post by Ryan Holiday (who, coincidentally, just landed a $500,000 book deal – did that perk your ears, authors?). He discusses the importance of doing what you love and being a good person. I whole-heartedly agree with his post, especially this passage:

“Work on the things that make you stare out car windows or not even hear someone say your name repeatedly. The things that make you forget what time it is. Be certain that what you do for hobbies and vacations are not the gasps of a suffocating man but your common breath.”

Yeah, but I still hear so many people give excuses as to why they can’t do the things they love. These excuses generally revolve around fear and money. I want to extrapolate Ryan’s idea and give you a full and complete argument as to why and how NOT doing what you love is actually hurting people.

Many of us continue in the same routines because we fear change. And at the end of the day, one of the lies we tell ourselves is “well, I’m not hurting anyone.” You are, actually, but in the slow,numbing kind of way – the kind of hurting that you don’t notice until fifty years have gone by and you have but a few good memories to look back on. I would suggest that kind of hurting is worse than fast, crazy, mind-bending pain. It’s worse because we can get used to it, and it can become a part of our lives.

So, let’s break it down. Who are you hurting?

Those Who Can Benefit from Your Passion
Your audience. Your story, your expertise, your dream or your off-the-wall idea could change someone’s life. If your dream is to speak to teens about suicide prevention, then you would actually be saving lives by pursuing your dreams. That is an extreme example, but you get the point. If Jim Rohn had continued to collect his $57 weekly paycheck as a Sears clerk, he would never have become a millionaire by age 31, or gone on to give personal development seminars to millions of people over a 40 year span. He influenced Tony Robbins, Mark Victor Hansen and Brian Tracy to achieve their dreams too. Among all of them, they have changed and improved countless lives. How many people’s lives could you change?

Your Friends and Family
If you don’t pursue your dreams, your friends and family have to see up close how this will affect you. When your children grow up and have dreams of their own, they will look back and remember that you always wanted to do something, but that you never did. It’s likely that they will use that as an example to frame their own lives. Not to mention your family has to hear about how much you hate your job, hate your boss, hate your co-workers etc. every day. That kind of negativity can really wear on a family’s attitude and ability to overcome adversity.

Most importantly, not pursuing your dreams will have an irreversible affect on you. Your self worth, your confidence and your youthful optimism will falter. Soon you will become like those cranky old guys that sit in the balcony during The Muppets (Statler and Waldorf, for you connoisseurs). One of my favorite sayings, which applies to business and to parenthood, is “you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can put it on those who depend on you.” If you are not healthy and happy and taking care of yourself then those around you will fail to get the best of you. Even though you go through the motions and you pay the bills, you won’t be completely fulfilled until you pursue doing what you love.

Of course there are financial implications and responsibilities involved with following your passions, especially if those passions involve starting a business, writing a book or becoming a speaker. However, most successful people who have struck out on their own will tell you that once they set the intention to do it, the stars aligned somehow. It doesn’t always mean quitting your day job right away and it doesn’t always mean a full time commitment. Even tweaking your life a little bit in the direction of something that excites you will make a world of difference.

What have been some of your struggles and/or victories of pursuing what you love?

Categories : Inspire, Life

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