Goals – Part 2: Passion

There is a lot to be read about finding your passion in combination with goals. Goals can be built around your passion. It’s more likely you’ll achieve them if you’re passionate about the cause.

“Nothing great in the world was accomplished without passion” according to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a German philosopher from the 18th century.

No pressure.

Coming from a country where the saying “Just act normal: you’ll be silly enough” is a thing; a mentality even, talking or thinking in terms of ‘passion’ is not something that was massively on the forefront of my mind.

When I started working with coaches, I did get asked the question. What is your passion? In more “Dutch” terms, toning the word ‘passion’ down a bit: What gets you excited: What makes you tick?

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the US. If you read books from American writers and motivational speakers, they’ll be very generous with the word ‘passion’. Influential and motivating Americans love the term: Oprah Winfrey, Tony Robins, Eric Thomas, the late Maya Angelou. It seems to me Americans even use it in cases I wouldn’t exactly call something ‘a passion’ but more ‘a temporary obsession’.

It’s interesting how there is such a difference between these cultures really.  

When I bought some house plants during lock down, I got incredibly obsessed with how to care best for them. Would I call that a passion? Meh. I wouldn’t want to quit my job and become a florist because of it. So, I think I’ve decided not to class it as a passion.  

But, since all these successful people seem to be incredibly passionate about things, I figured I needed to find out what my passion was and embrace it.

For a very long time, I didn’t really know if I had a passion. I mean, I like things, but do I consider them to be my passion? I always enjoyed doing a bit of everything and never liked focussing just on one thing. It also means that I could do a lot of things reasonably well, but usually didn’t get to a point I’d excel forever.

Even if I was considered being “talented” at something, I just didn’t feel like focussing on just that one thing, because there were so many other fun things that had my attention. And if that thing I was considered to be “talented” at became too difficult or too much effort, I’d give up after a while and would focus on something else. Maybe, if I had been more passionate about just one thing, I would’ve been more motivated to keep getting better at it.    

When are you allowed to call something a passion? A passion sounds like such a big thing to have! It makes me think of people who have a passion for swimming and want to become an Olympic medallist. Or singing and want to become the next Lady Gaga. If thinking big like that makes you stop thinking about it at all, I would advise to make it a bit smaller.

This will sound silly, but for a big part, my Instagram account helped me understand what I’m passionate about. I’m not kidding. It’s called @whatevermakesmetick, just like this blog. I gave it that name because that’s exactly what my account ended up reflecting: things that get me excited. When I look at the pictures on my account, they genuinely make me happy.

I love walking, taking pictures, food and travel and reading and writing art, wine, being happy. Would I ever consider becoming a food critic, make a living out of travel, reading or writing, being happy? Would I like to learn more about art and wine? I do get excited thinking about those options. Do I make an effort to be happy? Yes! Would I therefore consider them being a passion? I just might.

I’m also lucky enough to love an awful lot of elements of my job; making sure people enjoy their work, making sure people get handed enough tools to develop themselves, cleaning up messes and improving processes and drive collaboration. Gradually I would like to do more of that: make more people enjoy their work, develop them to higher levels, cleaning up bigger messes and drive collaboration between more and bigger teams.

I think I found my fair share of things that make me tick or could even call my “passion”. Things I can build goals around and things that have kept me focussed on trying to learn more and get better at it for some time now.

How about you? Do you have a passion? Are you doing anything deliberate to find your passion? Or have you had a super clear passion for something since you were a child?

Here’s some more food for thought. I love this talk!

Good reads:

Grit: Angela Duckworth

Mindset: Dr. Carol S. Dweck

Goals – Part 1

During your whole life, you’ll be asked about your goals, explicitly or implicitly. What do you want to be when you grow up? 5 years from now? 10 years from now? What’s you’re ultimate ambition? What are your #lifegoals? If you look back at your life in your last days of your life, what do you want to be the achievements to look back on?

Inspirational quotes are often about having big goals; smashing those big goals; making dreams happen by turning them into goals. I’ve read a lot of books that state what sets successful people apart is their clear goals.

Goals can help give you direction. If you don’t have a direction you might end up going in circles.

So, here’s how things work in my brain: To be successful I should set myself some gigantic, life changing, impressive goals. Becoming CEO of Google, solve poverty, elimimate crime, save the rhino, the coral reefs, become a millionaire by age 40, establish world peace. Just to name some…

But what would be useful about setting huge goals that look like you’re set up to fail from the start? And what are the odds you’ll actually succeed? 

I don’t like to be disappointed if things don’t go to plan and I don’t like failing. Hence, I get a bit nervous about setting goals. You might relate to the feeling (Or not. In that case I envy you a bit).

So, here’s a light bulb moment that helps me put things in perspective (or just a gentle refresher): Set yourself goals that are realistic and you’re excited about reaching. Then consider what steps you need to take to get there and focus on the steps. In other words: make a plan. There is a big difference between a plan and goals. You need a plan to reach your goals. And if plan A doesn’t work, you can try plan B or C.

A goal can be “I want to lose weight, a stone (6 Kg) in the next 2 Months”. What’s your plan to lose weight? “In order for me to lose weight I need to exercise 3 times a week” or “In order for me to lose weight I need to follow diet X for 2 months”. Great, I believe I can achieve that.

See what I’m doing? The goal is made concrete or SMART, as people like to call it in business jargon: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic (or relevant) and Time bound.   

If instead I would’ve given myself the goal: “I need to lose 4 (24 Kg) stone in 3 Months. To accomplish that I will exercise 3 hours every day and will only eat 1200 calories per day” It’s specific, measurable and time based. But since it’s not very attainable or realistic, you’re very likely to set yourself up for failure from the start.

A goal can be anything: to walk 10k steps a day, to read at least 5 management books this year, to learn a new language, to choose to be mindful for the day, to be happy in life (yeah, sorry, the latter ones are a bit more difficult to quantify. But you can still consider a plan to be happy, or a plan on how to stay mindful).

If you’ve looked at attacking goals this way, it might be worth giving it a try.

I’m going to use this gentle nudge for myself while setting my personal development goals for the rest of our companies’ financial year.

How you deal with setting and achieving goals?  

I’ll be writing 2 more blogs around goals. Next week I’ll be writing a about building goals around your passion and about how to find your passion. And the week after I’ll address goals and fear of failure.

If you want to learn more about SMART goal setting, have a look at the below video I swear I didn’t watch the below video when I came up with the weight loss example!