“I feel like I am burning out”, I am successful yet I feel empty”, “I have nothing to do when I get home”, “I spend endless hours on social media”. Do rants like these sound familiar? I am sure they do.
Most of us are highly skilled and qualified, equipped with all the right kind of certifications from PMP to Prince 2, but how many of us have a “passion” in life? A real one. Something for which your heart cries, your soul melts, your body yearns, your eyes twinkle. Something that you do for yourself, only yourself. Something that’s priceless. Not many. Right?
We may wrongly assume our interest as our passion. And in fact, many of us do exactly that. Interest is something that gives momentary pleasure. And yes, you may, some day, lose interest in an activity that once was your dear to you. But passion, it keeps you going. It is like the North Star.
Why many of us do not have a passion?
Passion can be learned, acquired or natural. Passion can mean different things to different people. For some it could be traveling, for some other, it could be playing an instrument, painting, or even a mundane activity like cooking. As kids we all have been sent for extracurricular classes, like swimming, drawing, singing, skating and what not. Kids still do all of that. In fact, the parent now spends a fortune on these activities that have become swankier and fancier.
Great thing! So what’s the concern? Well, the DRIVE is the concern.
The sole drive behind it is to give the child more than what the neighbor gives to his child. The drive behind it is to make the child excel in the activity and get awards in school and stage performances and competitions. The drive is to ‘push’ the child to be the best among his peers (how I hate the word ‘best’ now!).
Gradually, if the awards don’t come at all or stop coming or someone else overtakes…..all hell break lose. Dinner time becomes a time for taunts, comparisons and critical analysis. The poor child, loses interest in the activity, much before it can even become a passion. And if an award or two drop by, it at best becomes an interest, that will die a natural death some day under the burden of school bags, college classes or work pressure.
On the contrary think of this. If parents allow the child to choose his interest from among a set and do it at his pace, the way he likes. There is no competition, no comparison, no expectation. The parents instill the faith in the child that he should do it for himself because it gives him pleasure, makes him happy. Chances are the interest will become a passion.
And awards, they may come they may not. But who cares as long as you have a passion for keeping you going.
Now, why is it so damn important to have a passion in life?
When the child becomes an adult and steps out of his home to face realities like workplace pressure, working against deadlines, dysfunctional relationships, absurd travel hours, demanding kids, lifestyle diseases, more virtual friends than real ones and more stressful stimuli, it is the passion that will rescue him, giving him a warm shelter. At the end of a tiring day, a few moments of indulgence in one’s passion can keep the candle burning, brighter and longer.
People who have a passion, are able to manage stress, have more tolerance, accept failure more gracefully, are more productive, are able to better manage relationships, are able to take life decisions with more clarity and are more content in general.
We may not be able to change a situation or circumstance (a grumpy boss, hostile team, an abusive partner, ailing parent etc), but we surely can choose to handle it differently. That’s our signature and in the end, it’s all that’s gonna make the difference!
How to manage time for one’s passion?
With busy schedules and never-ending responsibilities, it becomes a challenge to manage time for one’s passion. But as I said earlier, if “your heart cries, your soul melts, your body yearns” for it, you will have the time for it despite all odds. However, some simple tips could be of help.
1. Change your attitude toward yourself: ‘You’ are as important as your work, spouse or child. They are because you are. It’s not a bad thing to be a little selfish and steal a few minutes for yourself.
2. Let others know how ‘important’ your passion is for you: Say it. Repeat if required. Don’t assume everyone understands. Stay away from people who object to or curb your passion, instead of appreciating or facilitating it. You do not need them by your side.
3. Take breaks that help you connect better with your passion: Eg. I try to plan adventure vacations once in a while without my spouse and kids where I can trek and bicycle on rough terrains.
4. Keep away from negative people: This is the toughest one. It takes hell lot of planning, courage, and will to do this. If stopping you from indulging in your passion gives the sense of control to someone, he/she is not a positive stimulus around you. If someone makes an effort to mold you to be someone that suits them, break away. Period.
5. Network with like-minded people: Look for and hang out with people who share the same passion. I am part of a cycling club and often hang out with them to share plans and experiences. We also go on group bike rides on weekends.
Can a passion be created in mid-life?
Of course YES! Passion is not inborn, it is created, it is found, nurtured and developed. And there are a million examples of it all around you. Begin with a shift in attitude. Look within. Rest will follow.
The onus is on us as parents to help the child identify his calling, encourage him/her to identify himself with it, allow him to devote time to it, revel in its halo, and be happy in its company.
Let us pledge to gift our children a passion. A life worth living and wanting to live again…unedited!