Stop asking for permission
…to pursue your passions
Hey there —
Have you ever been tempted to quit something you love because you’re worried it’s a waste of time? 😬
While some folks are lucky enough to have careers that pay the bills and are centered around their passions, for many of us, our passions — particularly creative ones — lie outside our 9-5 jobs.
Which means that pursuing them requires dipping into our limited free time and energy. Time and energy already being divided between friends, family, and (what feels like) a million different responsibilities.
And if we’d like those creative pursuits to be more than a hobby — but the rejections continue to roll in, our subscriber count sits in the single digits, or our mom is the only person who’s ever purchased one of our art pieces — we may be doubly prone to wondering, “Is this really worth it?”
But maybe the question we should really be asking is, “Who or what am I looking to for validation?”
Too often, we look to other people or a set of metrics to tell us if a goal or passion is “worth” pursuing, or when we’ve accomplished “enough” to justify our commitment.
We want hard evidence that we can hold up to say, “Look! I wasn’t wasting my time!” Or accomplishments that will give us enough experience and confidence to call ourselves a “real” filmmaker, writer, or artist.
100,000 subscribers proves it. The publishing deal proves it. The award nomination proves it. The viral post proves it. 🏆
But here’s the thing: you don’t need social proof that your passions are worth pursuing. You don’t need an accolade or official title to be a “real”…anything — or for the art you create to matter.
If you’re one sentence into the first draft of your first novel, storyboarding that short film, or creating daily doodles on your iPad — you already are a writer, filmmaker, or artist.
Your art matters, even if the only person it’s impacting right now is you.
Your passion is still valid even if you can only spend 30 minutes a week on it.
Take away all the pressure to succeed, forget any lofty goals you may have for a moment, and ask yourself: “Do I enjoy writing/filming/painting/designing?”
If the answer is “yes” then that’s all the validation and permission you need.
Accolades and goals aren’t bad in and of themselves. But recognizing that you don’t need outside permission or justification to pursue your passions helps relieve some of the pressure to “succeed” at them or to achieve the next bigger, better milestone.
Do that thing you love doing…because you love doing it.
Allow yourself to enjoy the process…without needing to validate it.
Because the things that bring you joy, fill your cup, and leave you feeling personally fulfilled are not a waste of time — even if they never come with a paycheck or big, flashy rewards. ☺️
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It’s okay to not be passionate about your job
by Ruth Tam and Sylvie Douglis
Sociologist Erin A. Cech would like to add an asterisk and a warning to the advice “Find a job you’re passionate about”: Don’t let that passion be exploited. ⚠️
In this article/podcast episode, Cech shares research from her book The Trouble With Passion: How Searching for Fulfillment at Work Fosters Inequality, revealing how pursuing passion over job security and fair wages can leave us overworked and underpaid, and encouraging us to diversify our “meaning-making portfolio.”
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And according to journalist and author Chris Taylor, most of the guidance offered up between then and now…is pretty much the same.
After reading dozens of best-sellers, Taylor distills the repeated advice of 164 years of the self-help genre into eleven bite-sized life lessons. We’re not saying this is everything you’ll ever need to know, but it’s certainly a great place to start (especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the self-development info out there).
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Written by Ashley Martin
Edited by Matt D'Avella