Turning your passion into a project is really what life is all about. Right now you might be working 50 or even 60 hours a week on something you’re not that interested in. Even if you are interested in it, unless you own your own business, you’re working on someone else’s project. But ultimately you want to feel ownership over you work, you want to be jazzed about it, right? But how do you actually start living your passion?
What most of the guys who read The Art of Charm want to do (if they’re not already hard at work on it) is start their own project. It’s a way of taking greater control of your life and getting more enjoyment out of your work. It’s a lot of what Jordan talked about with Jason Surfrapp on the “Creativity for Sale” episode of The Art of Charm Podcast.
Early on in the episode, Surfrapp, née Sadler, who has sold his surname twice talks about “selling out.” After selling his name to Headsets.com he heard this a lot. However, not only wasn’t he very attached to his surname to begin with, he also has a very different concept of what constitutes “selling out.” “If you’re doing a shitty nine to five job and you’re getting a paycheck for that, that’s selling out.”
Are you selling out? Do you want to stop? There are a few things you can start doing right now that will help you to start making steady, forward progress toward making your passion into your next project.
One thing that really struck me from the podcast was Jason talking about how many people there are out there who have blazed the trail you want to walk down already. It’s not so much that you need to follow in their footsteps — in fact, it’s the opposite. You want to figure out where they’ve made mistakes and try to avoid making the same ones. To that end, getting someone to mentor you or at least give you feedback on your project can be very helpful. But how do you get that kind of help?
“You don’t get what you don’t ask for,” Jason points out.
He also stresses that you might be surprised at just how willing successful people that you admire will be to at least give you a little bit of feedback. Jason cites the example of Seth Godin, one of the great marketing masterminds of the 21st Century. Is he going to mentor you? Probably not. But he answers emails all day. If you send him a thoughtful, reflective email asking for his advice on something, he’s probably going to have something to say about it. He won’t be able to fix all your problems, but he will be able to point you in a direction that would have helped him at the same stage you’re at right now.
Stop Listening To Your Inner Circle
Your family and friends are great, but they’re most likely not going to help you move toward your goals with helpful criticism and tips. “You need to find people who are willing to give you feedback on stuff,” says Jason.
This is because your family and friends probably haven’t done what you’re trying to do. What’s more, their natural inclination will be to think — not just tell you, but to really believe — that every idea you have is a nugget of gold. But successful people who are not emotionally invested in you won’t have the same bias.
Jason boils it down rather succinctly. “You just want to take some actionable steps from the feedback they give you.” That’s something that people who haven’t done what you want to do just aren’t capable of giving you.
Stop Learning, Start Doing
The best way you can learn how to do something is by actually doing it.
Still, a lot of people make the excuse that they need more education before they can really sink their teeth into a project. So instead of getting started and learning from the process of doing, they keep reading books, taking classes, asking questions on Reddit and basically doing anything but going ahead and making their dreams into a reality. Learning’s great, but it can easily become a distraction, an excuse, rather than a step toward action.
“People tend to use research and education as procrastination,” Jason says, adding that “at some point if you’re just constantly educating yourself you’re not getting anything done.” He suggests that there’s a psychological element involved in why people spend 1,000 hours “learning” before they sit down and start making their passions into projects. “You’re afraid to start that thing and fail at it.”
It’s not that you don’t need to know what you’re doing or have a road map before you can start really making your projects come to life. It’s just that no matter how many books you read, you’re not going to be any closer to turning dreams into reality until you actually start getting to work on your projects. So how can you start working on projects if you’re not really sure what you’re doing?
Jason thinks that brainstorming is where it’s at, even if every idea that you have is terrible. He talks about Angry Birds. Those guys made around 50 dud apps that really weren’t all that different from Angry Birds before they came up with an idea that now sells crossover merchandise with Star Wars down at your local grocery store.
There’s a good chance that your first 50 ideas won’t be worth much of anything. But you’re never going to get those 50 failing ideas out and move on to successful idea 51 unless you brainstorm. Jason urges people to shut off all their electronic devices, get a white board out and bounce ideas off of another person. As long as you’re just white boarding, there are no bad ideas. Once all the ideas are on the board, however, then you can start getting criticism and feedback.
Spend between half an hour and 45 minutes doing this. You need at least that much time to get your creative juices flowing. However, spending too much time can result in you just spinning your wheels in the dirt.
It’s not something you can do via email or Skype according to Jason. You need live human interaction to get the kind of feedback you’re looking for. What’s more, it’s less about the ideas that you’re putting on the board and more about getting your brain into the right frame of mind where your creative juices are flowing.
Setting goals is an integral part of everything, including brainstorming. Jason suggests that when you sit down to brainstorm that you include the goal at the top of the sheet of paper or whiteboard. That’s going to help keep your mind on what it is you’re actually trying to come up with.
Taking a couple minutes to come up with a goal for a brainstorming session gets you in the habit of setting goals. It might sound elementary, but it’s a necessary part of turning your passion into a project and ultimately living your passion. The roadmap you create, no matter how much input you’re getting from other people who have tread similar paths in the past, is ultimately going to be created by you. You’re going to need to formulate all the smaller goals that build up to your biggest goal.
Make Time For It
Once you start getting ideas you need to act on them. That means making time to work on your project. One simple change you can make in your life to make time for your passions is to start getting up earlier.
I personally bang on about this a lot. Rising early is the easiest way to start making your dreams become a reality. Give yourself an extra hour in the morning and you’re going to start doing a lot with it. A lot of entrepreneurs are early risers, but I doubt that most of them were early risers by nature. Rather, what they saw was that they needed more time to start turning their passions into projects. The easiest way to do that is to just start getting up earlier and making time for it.
Just start setting an alarm on your phone. Leave a note on the alarm about what you’re supposed to do. Hop in the shower, shake off the cobwebs and sit down to do it. Maybe you’ve only got that hour in the morning, but I doubt it. Far more likely is that the one hour you spend in the morning will whet your appetite for even more work when your day is through. After all, your passion is still your passion even when it’s a project. Once you get just a little taste of what it feels like to actually start moving toward your goal, I’d wager you’re going to love it.
Life is just too short to have dreams you’re not making into realities. Living your passion is absolutely essential, and one of the things I believe in teaching men at The Art of Charm is how to take their dream — the thing they think is nice to think about, but is never going to become a reality — and make it come true. I’ve seen it happen numerous of times and it never gets old.
So what’s your dream? Tell us about it. Start a discussion in the comments section. You might just be able to find the person who can help you to start building your dreams brick by brick, one day at a time.