The Passion Cycle

I remember when I was in my twenties and starting out working at a job.  It was a career choice that would have made sense if I would have been cut out at it.  But I was unsatisfied because it didn’t satisfy my “passion”.  I had always dreamed of being a philanthropist or psychologist who had a level of importance and authority that people looked to for help or guidance.  I did not want the authority to tell people what to do…I just wanted to know the answer to their problem and help them find their way.  Funny thing is, I couldn’t find my own.

I had read (or skimmed through) a book called “Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow”.  What a grand scheme this book had.  Do what you really love to do and it will sustain you.

That mantra still carries on to today.  Many people, unhappy with their jobs and/or line of work, have taken the path of following their passion thinking that they can enjoy life more because of it…and a few times they do…very few.  In the meantime, they go through the cycle of

PassionCycle

  1. quitting their job to follow their passion,
  2. passion doesn’t produce results needed,
  3. get mad at passion and leave,
  4. take job that is even more unfulfilling,
  5. trying to find new passion

and so on.

Now some people may say that this is good because you actually get to know yourself and evolve through a process of elimination.  This is true I believe but for many who take this route, there is a habit of the cycle and it is never-ending.  In fact, it can be debilitating and destructive to a person’s overall life.  When reading this, did the thought run through your mind about people and intimate relationships?

While not everyone has this happen in personal relationships, just looking at the cycle and taking that angle, you can see how destructive it can be to someone’s life.  So I want to take a different look at this scenario…a cause and effect look.

Let’s just imagine the ultimate goal that is being aimed at.  The ultimate goal is to enjoy what do.  Enjoy life.  Maybe experience the “flow” that once tasted, can sometimes become a passion to find it again.  Nonetheless, the goal is to do something that you enjoy doing and not to get trapped in the hunt for it.  Without trying to imagine what that is exactly, imagine the feeling.  What does it feel like?  Is it you standing around, grinning all the time?  No, that would be weird.  What is the feeling?  Is it accomplishment…importance…authority…creating?  Find the feeling and the action of it.

This takes a little time to figure because it may not be a certain thing, but a feeling that is being sought as the goal.  Now remember, this is the goal and not the means of getting there.  And one other thing:  the means are temporary and build upon each other.  You cannot get to the goal and be done and be fulfilled.

So with this in mind, how do you get there…to each means.  Well, just as a sturdy house is built with one brick at a time, your means are built one step at a time.  Here is the interesting part though:  you do not have to search for that perfect job.  You can find that first step where you are right now.  You see, sometimes people do not let themselves get into their jobs well enough to experience that “flow”.  They yearn for the steps to the great goal to be like that goal.  For example, if their goal is to be an authority in a certain field, they seek to be recognized for each “brick” or step and when they are not, the temptation of starting that cycle happens.

So keeping that vision of building a brick house, what is it built upon?  A foundation.  Have you ever seen a foundation without the house?  Is it just a slab of concrete? No, there are things set in it before the concrete is poured to make everything in the future fit correctly:  plumbing, electrical, etc.  and a lot of digging before all of that.  If a contractor keeps moving to a different lot before the digging is done or while the foundation is being built, all that is left is a bunch of holes and messes.

Preventing that mess requires steps being followed and that “flow” can be found in each step if the goal is kept in mind.  In reading the book by Jim Collins, Good to Great, he talks about a POW named Admiral Jim Stockdale and how he survived being held in captivity for 8 years.  The statements made by Stockdale can be directly applied to this post:

“I never lost faith in the end of the story.  I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life…This is a very important lesson.  You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end, which you can never afford to lose, with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

He developed systems for his fellow captives to handle torture, communicate and deal with captivity.   He gave them purpose, keeping the ultimate goal in focus.  Interestingly enough, he stated that the captives who did not survive were the “optimists” as he called them.   Those “optimists” would talk about getting out by Christmas, and Christmas would come and go.  Then by Easter, then by Thanksgiving, etc. and in his own words, “they died of a broken heart”.

What does this say about goal setting to you?  Four things are evident

  1. Setting goals (dates, milestones, quotas) for the steps to the ultimate goal is good but can be destructive if the STEP takes the prominent place of the GOAL. (How many times do you want to break and mend your own heart?)
  2. Small failures will happen. It is a part of the process.  (Ask a contractor if they ever built a house with no failures or mistakes)
  3. Setting up systems for small purposes that point to the overall goal or purpose can lead to sustainability.
  4. Keeping your eye on the ultimate goal is the key to perseverance.

What is great about this is that it can be started immediately, at any stage in life, at any part in your career and make a difference in your life as well as those around you.  Find your “flow” WHERE YOU ARE.  Set up systems for those small purposes that point to the overall goal.  Set up goals for your steps but do not make them what you live by.  Keep your eye on the ultimate goal and stay out of a destructive cycle.

The Problem of Hope

Hope is a strange thing.  You grow up saying “I hope I make the team” or “I hope that I get that job”, but hope can mean so much more and can be applied in many different situations.  Looking at the definition of hope, it reads “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.: ‘he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information’, ‘I had high hopes of making the Olympic team’ and “a feeling of trust’”.  Trust, hope, aspiration, expectation and goal are all in the same category, but why do you have such fleeting feelings when it comes to hope?

Is it because, as a child, your hopes were dashed because you did not get what you wanted for Christmas?  The sudden absence of a parent or close friend?  Promises made and broken?  What kinds of disappointments get into your mind and affect your life for years to come?  Can you actually take control of those “negative triggers” in your mind?

It is amazing how events piled upon more events, create your personality.  Some call it “being shaped by your environment”.  How can you take the reigns or wrestle away the control from your environment and move your life in a positive direction?

This is a gap because when hope leaves, there is emptiness. It can be easily filled with the wrong things.  It can even be filled with the need for isolation.  But if you are wanting to properly fill this gap, it needs to be filled with a “positive”; a habit that does not destroy you, but builds upon you.

Many have filled it with reading the Bible, exercise, writing, learning a new skill, etc., many times to excess, but it all relates to how you deal with failure.  If you go in a negative direction after a negative event, you have filled your personal gap but sometimes made it even worse.  And many times, that negative direction creates negative attention towards yourself.

Realization of this habit or “gap filling” is half of the answer.  When you realize that you are creating a negative pattern by your own actions, you can actually seek to direct your reactions, one by one.  Can you direct all of your negative patterns?  Probably not, but deciding to do nothing is still a decision and will eventually take you further down the negative pattern.  Sometimes, realization is what is needed…with an alternate path waiting to be taken.

Here is an exercise to leave you with.  It is not easy and you may struggle with it.  Take your negative end result and work backwards from it, numbering each event that led up to it.  Look at each event with the possibility of “What would have happened if I would have responded differently?”.  The key to this exercise is to be thorough, so just take one event at a time and be honest with yourself.

Afterwards, add a comment, disagree, scream at the blog, whatever…just realize where your reactions take you.

Dam

So much has happened since Thanksgiving that it would an injustice to myself to NOT write anything. Time has been flying by and it seems sometimes that I cannot catch up with it all. Some years it seems that the holidays drag by but not this year. Until this moment, and probably afterwards, life has come very fast. I have just had to hold on for the ride. That being said, life is directable, yes, but unstoppable. How can that be? I liken it to a river.

 

Consider a small river, flowing through a forest. You cannot step into the middle of it and stop it. In fact, you and a hundred others stepping into the middle of it cannot either. It is not stoppable in that manner. But yet a small group of animals carrying one or two branches at a time can eventually direct it and in the process, make a cozy little home for themselves. In fact, carrying that thought a little further, they can concentrate the force of that river and make it calm in one section and raging in another. The river that may have been uncontrollable in the beginning, has succumbed to the efforts of a couple of small animals and its power harnessed to work for them.

 

I know that you didn’t expect a nature lesson today but you got one anyway.

 

So how is it that a large rodent with a flat tail can teach us about handling life? Well, it is obvious that its ability to harness the power of the river is monumental. The beavers also chop down large trees, store their food in the still portions of the river (a home-made refrigerator) and build tributaries and canals for the river to spread throughout the area. Do they do this because they know that the surrounding habitat needs it and that there efforts will be heralded at the next Annual Forest Convention? No, they do this because it is how they were taught and it is their instinct.

 

One thing to note though is that beavers are not perfect. Sometimes, when they are constructing and doing things instinctively, they have a dam collapse or a bear attacks and they can get hurt or a member(s) of their family dies. Sometimes pollution or human progress causes them to move. When this happens, do you know what they do? They adapt to their new surroundings and do what? What they were taught and do instinctively.

 

What are you teaching your friends, children or grandchildren to do instinctively? Yes, I said friends too. In case you haven’t noticed, when you hang around others, their habits and sayings tend to rub off on you and vice versa. This is why it is so imperative for you to exhibit leadership habits. Not so much to show off or try to be the big shot but to offer good teachings and instinctual habits for others to glean. And you do not have to be perfect in your efforts.

 

After all, you can direct life without having to stop it. And you can lead with out being the leader. One or two small branches at a time.

The weight of the world comes crashing down…

So, mornings are tough when the weather changes and even more tough when crisis strikes…and even more tough when both strike at the same time.  Ha, when it rains it pours.

It will not keep me away from sharing with all of you, though.  Many things have happened to shed more light on life and I am eager to be transparent…to your benefit, I hope.

The weight of the world comes crashing down.WeightoftheWorld

You had one of those moments before?  I woke up the other morning and I felt like stress found me.  My pastor had said in his message the day before that in an average day, a person makes approximately 168,000 decisions.  Now I could have let that statement go, maybe zoned out during his talking and not let that sink in.  But for someone who has fought through some major and minor decision-making issues in his past, that statement sunk my boat.

I usually do not know when stress is happening until I physically feel it…and WOW! did I feel it.  A mental fog set in and threw my day out of whack.  I was just operating on auto-pilot the whole morning.  I am glad that some good habits were formed in me so that I could work by going through the motions, though.  It took some real intense thought and prayer to claw my way out of the most of it.  Some of it still remains.

But what if I would have chosen to stay there.  Have you ever had that happen to you and you stayed there…in that muck and mire…wishing for someone to reach down and pull you out?  Or maybe you didn’t hope for someone to show up but you just gave up?

When this happens, it really is a matter of perspective.  Our society has become so computerized that we have forgotten the value of the physical pen and paper.  Getting yourself transparent and writing things down is a humbling experience at times.

Questions to yourself need to be answered.  Here is one:  How much of this can I change the outcome?  Can I somehow produce an outcome that will decrease its “worry” weight?  If not, then you are just a spectator.  Prepare for how it will affect your world to lessen its effect.

Another question is:  Is it my problem?  Is this based on someone else’s decision?  Even if it is your adult child that you raised, does lamenting over the crazy things they do change what they do?  Again, you are just a spectator.  Prepare for how it may affect your world.

Final question:  Can I talk to someone (close friend or spouse), that can offer a different perspective and will I shut my own mouth and listen?  This is the key many times.  When you have experienced levels of distrust in their life from those who are supposed to be responsible, you tend to lean on yourself because at least you know what to expect from yourself.  You may have heard the saying “Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman”.  I will tweak that saying and say “Behind every successful person is a trail of people who teach”.

Plain and simple…You do not know it all.  The answers to all of your problems are not lurking around in your subconscious, waiting for you to catch them.  I know that there have been self-help teachings that say the “Greater Consciousness” will give it to you if you ask.  Well, here is a shocker for you:  Just like God uses you to help others, He will use others to help you.   Part of the problem with “self-help” teaching is just that:  It teaches you to only rely on yourself for answers.  Don’t act like the word “ASK” is a four letter word.

We do not know it all.  Never stop learning.

Lay down the weight of the world.  It is not for you to worry about.  You do have responsibility to make good decisions for the future, not for the past.  All 168,000 of them.

What are we thinking?

Have you ever said that?  “What was she thinking?” or better yet “Was he thinking at all?”  This is an interesting phrase but as we look at it, turn it around.  What am I thinking?  Many say that you can tell what people are thinking by their actions.  Well, that may be true but I think it goes deeper than that.

moreintelligentlife

Outward actions are determined by the habits you have formed which in turn are caused by your upbringing, experiences and some heredity as well.  Some people actually blame their heredity for their actions like it is something physically forcing them to do certain things when actually it is their mind.

You can experience a major change in your life and make it a good habit if you realize one thing:  failure is a part of succeeding.  You will fail.  Failing should be expected but succeeding is a decision.  Just like the baby steps that we talked about in a previous post, you must find that original desire that produces change and start over.

In the mornings when we get up at the last minute…our actions are saying “I got this handled” when in actuality, we need guidance.  You are worth investing a few quiet minutes into yourself and your purpose by giving time to Him for gratitude and direction.

After all, that world out there is much bigger than it seems and He is working in all of it.

So, what are you thinking?

Learn

Have you ever thought about how you learn?  Now you may think the way most schools taught us is what I am talking about.  For the most part, reading, writing and testing is a good method but is it the most effective for you?

I will be the first to admit that reading is not my strong point and therefore, if I wasn’t able to get step 1 down, the other steps did not fall into place very well.

readingBooks

I read a book a few years ago for a college course that examined learning styles.  It was an active book…you know, those books with questions at the end of each chapter and space for you to write your answer.  Never have liked those kind of books.

So, the course has me study each chapter, one at a time and answer the questions online for only an instructor’s eyes.  I read about learning styles and answered questions that were uncomfortable about myself and submitted them.  While I found out, through this course, what my best method of learning was, something else happened that was momentous.  I read a book that I was just vaguely interested in, from cover to cover.  Yes, it might have been because I was paying money for the course, but it worked.  I learned the object of the course plus so much more.

Now, think about the last time you got really emotional about something.  It can be a time that you were sad, angry, happy or scared.  On the surface, what did you learn?  Was it to not enter into a relationship quickly?  Not to lend money to friends?  That showing your children is more fun than telling?  Maybe not to travel down a certain road over the posted speed limit?

That is on the surface, but ask yourself “Why?” a few times like in my previous post Move.  There is something deeper to be learned there.  For me, in the college course above, I realized that I learn by reading for a set amount of time, taking a break to do something else for a while and then returning to write about it.  I can churn out a top quality college paper afterwards, in no time at all.  But I also learned what was holding me back regarding my failures about reading a book cover to cover; a lesson that has changed the way I operate in life.

Examine the surface and look beneath…there is more.

Learn.

Baby Steps

It has been a long time since we had a baby in the house. I can honestly say that until you actually have a baby in your house from infancy, there are some things that you may have difficulty learning. I say this because as you experience certain things, your environment and circumstances make you ripe for the learning and absorbent to wisdom. It is still your choice regarding whether or not you choose to learn.
One thing that I learned during this time happened because someone had the boldness to speak at a time when I was struggling with failure; not just one certain failure, but repeated failures.
babysteps
He said that when we are babes, are curious creatures. We try this and test that. We touch things we are not supposed to and get our hand slapped while other things are not only OK to touch, we are encouraged to do so. We depend upon adults to meet our needs, while slowly taking some independence, at different paces, strike out for independence.
When you try to take your first steps, you stumble and fall and land on your butt. Then one day, you actually maintain your balance to the point where you stand up and take that first step. You do it and take another. You grin. You try to take one more and you land flat on your face. You cry…and you never try to walk again because that failure is just too much to bear…


Now you know, that is not how the story ends.
There are certain things in life involving independence, that failure is required. Yes, required.
If you can take this bit of wisdom and run with it…
Your baby steps are important.