The One Question To Determine If You Have Found Your Passion

pexels-photo-345135

All our lives we are told to find our passion. Don’t settle, they said. But how?

Is it some type of inner compass that we ought to follow but don’t?

Do you wake up one day and get inspired?

Do you try everything and find it only then?

Like you, I wasn’t satisfied with a lot of these answers.

All the questions above play a role in finding your life’s task.

But I find that there is an acid test that you can use today on anything you are pursuing right now that will more or less determine your passion, which is:

What would you do everyday even if you were failing?

I actually asked my Instagram audience this very question and there was one common answer.

“Football”

Given the fact that most of my audience were young guys, they said they wouldn’t mind practicing football over and over again even if they kept losing to the opposing team.

Now what is something that you found yourself doing again and again regardless of outcome?

Something that you enjoy doing because the work is enough to keep you satisfied, not the result.

You may be closer to your passion than you think.

It’s not easy to find something that doesn’t dampen your enthusiasm even if you fail again and again.

As Winston Churchill once said,

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.

Think:

Much like a soldier is asked what would he or she die for, you are asked what are you willing to fail for?

How Marketing Made Me a Better Performer, Lover and Friend

Seriously? Yes, seriously.

Learning marketing since graduation has been a game changer in my professional and personal life.

But I was never always open to it…

Growing up, I always considered sales and marketing to be reserved for the ones who can’t get a decent job.

But boy was I wrong.

 

Since learning about marketing and working as a marketer, I started to notice a change in the way I see things and interact with others.

I think it’s safe to say that marketing changed my life in ways I never expected.

Here are just some of the benefits.

 

1. Learning to get attention made me more romantic

When you scroll down your Facebook feed, do you click because it interest you or because it was so boring that you had to click it?

Marketers are in the business of getting attention. And to get attention, the idea has to be interesting.

But you can’t be interesting overnight.

You don’t take a”World’s Most Interesting Man” pill and wake up super cool. (If there is, please let me know)

You would have to follow trends or at least find creative angles to tell your story.

Turning something boring into something interesting is the name of the game.

This doesn’t just apply to repackaging or re-positioning.

It applies to our romantic relationships as well.

As G.K Chesterton puts it,

We are perishing for want of wonder, not for want of wonders.

Meaning we are not looking for new things per se, but that we looking for new ways to look at things.

I was listening to relationship expert Esther Perel on the Tim Ferriss Show and she said something that I remembered:

“If people only use 10% of their creativity for cheating and put to their current love lives, they will surprised how far they can take it.”

Think about, if you woke up without a memory of your relationship, you would find your partner attractive and interesting as you did in the beginning.

Ever heard old husbands who say they look at their wives as though it was their first time? Sounds familiar eh?

Learning marketing also helped me get excited about the littlest things.

It helps me reframe any situation or thing to make it all the more interesting and exciting.

 

2. Learning to psycho people made me more sociable

 

I was a serial introvert.

If I were an OS, my socializing muscle will be under “Least Used Apps”.

But since getting into marketing, I started to overcome my shyness and nervousness of making new friends.

It all starts with what marketing is.

Marketing is persuasion at scale.

To persuade, you need to understand the basics of psychology.

Like what are your customers like and how to sell to them.

It goes deeper than that though.

Being a marketer demands that you adopt different worldviews to appeal to different people.

In result, creating a growth oriented, open minded person.

A person who is open to different cultures, values and experiences.

You stop thinking that your view of the world is the only one that is correct.

You start listening to what others say more intently.

You take criticism more easily and you don’t let your ego get in the way of your judgement.

 

By being welcoming of other people’s views, you are bound to have more things in common with them.

And the more you have more things in common with people, the easier it is to become friends.

You make more friends and your professional and personal network starts to grow.

 

3. Learn that perception is reality

Here’s a quote from Steve Jobs:

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.

That’s a very limited life.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.

Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

Everything you know to be true is only true because you believe it to be.

All the things you were told growing up were made up by people who were just as clueless as you.

As you learn marketing, you start to realize an ugly truth: that all social norms were created out of thin air and most of our beliefs are shaped by the media we are exposed to.

Stories are the currency of our lives.

The diamond engagement was only popular since the 1920s because it was marketed as a thing that only real men do. (oh, and the two-month salary rule, wasn’t created by buyers, it was created by sellers.)

Smoking cigarettes became mainstream because tobacco companies had huge marketing budgets to have celebrities smoke. It became cool. Now, with all the health hazards, the tobacco companies are marketing the act of smoking as a matter of “freedom of choice.”

And one quick question, which you think is more dangerous – using an airplane or using a car?

Most people would think airplane, but statistically driving a car is far more dangerous.
The odds? 11,000,000:1 for airplanes. 5,000:1 for cars.

We think airplane because of availability heuristic. Because the news talks about a plane crash for weeks, we think its more dangerous to use an airplane, but lookup your newspaper and you will see that car crashes happen everyday.

I found out about this learning behavioral psychology and the mental shortcuts we use when making decisions.

Being aware of all this – the stories we are told and the biases we have helps me tremendously when I make important decisions.

It helps me find out my weaknesses.

For example, I haven’t been exercising for months.

But since I learnt about the psychology of nudges, I decided to place my gym clothes on my desk.

It’s the first thin I see when I wake up in the morning.

The result? Just placing my clothes very openly where I can see them made me exercise more.

 

***

As you can see, marketing has had a profound effect on how I see things in the world.

I have become more sociable, romantic, self-aware and effective.

I have since also had a hunger for wisdom. For knowledge that can make my life and those around me more enjoyable.

 

What recently changed your life for the better? 🙂

 

The paradox of modern day pursuits

You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire.” – Seneca

There is one great paradox and irony that most of us face everyday. Some of us don’t even think it’s a problem.

In life, two things take up most of our time – our work and everything else.

I say that because we often get carried away with our prioritization over work at times when we should not.

***

I came this realization after two instances.

The first was when my manager asked me why I was working so unusually late. I said “to increase my chances of success.”
And that’s when she replied: “Work will never end. You can complete it today but there will always be more tomorrow.”

The second time was after meeting a friend of mine and finding his spending habits bizarre — he would spend frugally on himself and spend lavishly on those he holds dear. I eventually came to realize that his form of happiness is in making other people happy, the same way I derive pleasure from having my work recognized.

The truth is, we spend our waking hours in pursuit of wealth or to be productive. We feel the need to make sure our time is of utility – if not for financial rewards, then for personal convenience in the future.

We know that the work will never end. Or put it this way – we know the work will always be available if we so choose to pick it up again.

But can the same be said of our family and friends?

We can always “resume” work, the same way we can always collect more property and be the bearer of more titles.

But we can’t say the same for our loved ones as they may not always be around.

To put bluntly, they all have an expiration date — and the pursuit of property and productivity does not.

***

Too often we hear of the old man who regrets not spending more time with his children when they were younger because he was busy working.

Or that all too familiar feeling of living alone in a house stuffed with toys, but feeling empty inside and lonely.

I agree that it is far too simplistic to have a conclusion such as “money can’t buy happiness”.
It can buy comfort in the beginning, and happiness up to a point (according to Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, the optimal number is $75,000 a year) and satisfaction from then on.

We need money for survival and we should work for it.
But don’t lose sight of the reason why you are doing it in the first place.

***

Spend time with your loved ones and show them you love them. It doesn’t have to take hours, it just has to take thought.

Like a soldier heading off to battle, get your affairs in order at home so you can be at peace when you leave to carry out your duties.

 

On minimalism and books

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What is Minimalism

There are many definitions of minimalism out there. Some more extreme (see Fumio Sasaki) than others, some more relaxed than others.

The Minimalists tried to distill minimalism into a single question:
How might your life be better if you owned fewer material possessions?

By and large, minimalism first requires you to confront your relationship with your material possessions. And later with the other areas in your life like your career, family and friends.

Some of the example questions you can start asking today are:
Do you really need that many clothes? How many of them do you actually use regularly?
Do you really need that many shoes? Would it be worth the hassle if you bring all them if you were to travel?
Do you really need to buy that new book from your favourite author? Are you willing to buy it again after you lost it?

I see minimalism on a macro level as examining your material needs.

For example, why do you feel the need to hold onto your old school club t-shirts if you haven’t worn them in years?What is it about it that you truly miss if you were to lose it?
Would you go out of your way to find another one somewhere if you lost it?

By the way, the best test I have found when it comes to paring down your possessions is:

“Would you go out of your way to buy it again if you lost it?”

If it doesn’t pass the test, it means it’s not a true need.

 

Minimalism and Books

To best illustrate my journey with minimalism, I would have to draw on my personal experience with books.

I got onto the personal growth train mid last year and have spent close to RM1500 on books. Far more than the average person but of course, much lower than the ideal voracious reader I wanted to become.

I kept feeling the need to buy the books I was supposed to have. The classics like the Art of War and Think and Grow Rich. The bestsellers that regularly get reviewed by YouTubers like the 48 Laws of Power and Rich Dad Poor Dad.

I kept buying and reading. It was enriching, don’t get me wrong. But the physical books kept pilling up and for some odd reason, whenever I viewed my bookshelf, I viewed it as something I ought to do rather than something I want to do.

I realized most of my beliefs about collecting books came from two ideas I got early on in my personal development journey:
1) The difference between rich people and poor people is that the rich have a library while the poor have a TV.
2) Most success literature talks about successful people and CEOs reading an average of 50 books a year (1 a week).

The idea of having a physical library was hammered even further when I discovered that my two main influences for writing and thinking (Ryan Holiday and Farnam Street Blog) wrote extensively on their views of having a personal library and even an anti-library.

Ryan’s personal library.

As I’m writing this, I have about 50 books in my collection, most of them popular non-fiction titles.

But when I decided to run the titles through my “minimalist framework” which was –

What books would I buy again if I lost them and what books would I gladly bring around with me if I were to travel the world with a single carry-on backpack?

The answer I came to surprised me — almost none of them.

The same way there is a distinction between the best movies you seen and your personal favourite movies, there were a lot of the “best” books I’ve read on my shelf but only a handful of favourites. Not to mention that I would not buy them again if I lost them in a fire or something. In other words, I wouldn’t miss them.

My personal library

I have since parred down my collection to 12 books. And I intend to pare them down even more to pass the “single carry-on backpack” test.

 

The Real Reason Why You Are Holding On To Your Stuff

“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.” – François de La Rochefoucauld

I have to admit that in relation to my books. One of the reasons I felt the need to hold onto them was to signal to other people that I was a learned person. That I was studious and curious. That I was smart.

Fumio Sasaki, the extreme minimalist I mentioned earlier, had a similar notion with his possessions, particularly DVDs and his photography gear.

When he was younger, he would take up “someday hobbies” – hobbies he would have time for someday. At one point he was super interested in photography that he converted one of his rooms into a darkroom.

But he stopped doing it a while and yet he didn’t take the set-up down.

The same went to his DVD collection and his home theater system, which he also rarely uses anymore.

He realized that the reason he didn’t want to get rid of it was because he trying to maintain his identity as the cool guy. The movie guy. The photography guy.

I was trying to be the book guy, when what I really should be aiming for is the well-read guy.

The point wasn’t to look smart but to be smart.

***

Is there something in your life that you are holding onto to impress other people?