"If you find what you're passionate about, you'll never work a day in your life," is a line and way of thinking that has echoed through society during the short time I've been alive. My generation was certainly raised on it, and I don’t think it did us any favors.
This past year, I've questioned how much of my generation, or society at large, adheres to this belief that success, love, happiness and wealth are all things magically “arrived at,” not built and worked toward but found somehow through a nebulous search.
The idea of “finding” the perfect situation is applied to colleges, careers, love and relationships. You could apply it to diets as well and programming and people's fruitless belief that there is a magic black box of fitness knowledge that leads to the perfect body or freak nasty physique.
But it's an illusion, and it's bullshit to say it bluntly.
Illusion Versus Reality
Imagine the length of a human life, say 80 years. At the age of 28, you “find” your passion. Just by happenstance, you somehow fall into an accidental job and it’s the best thing ever and then it rains gold coins from the sky and you never worry about money. And then you meet the perfect girl or boy and your relationship is magical forever and ever. All in one day. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
And you didn’t even have to do anything! You were just looking around and voila! A perfect life for you to walk into. Except that isn't how reality works. That isn't how life works. The above is a fantasy situation devoid of work, action and responsibility.
What happens after you find this great situation? All aspects of your life are magically taken care of for the remaining 52 years of life? That’s thousands upon thousands of days. It's just “there” now and it's never going away?
It’s disillusionment that because someone wants something, they must also deserve it and it must happen to them just because. This thinking removes personal responsibility and work from your life. Wanting an extraordinary life while excluding personal work is insanity. It's wanting something for nothing.
This is a falsehood. Your reality is what you’ve earned and what you’ve built, not what you want. You can think thoughts as hard as you want inside your head. They mean nothing relative to accomplishing anything.
Me? I'd rather be too busy working on what I want than wasting time talking about how much I want it.
Life is engineered
My fellow teammate Chris Duffin had a phenomenal interview recently. He discussed some of his upbringing and the work that he had put into “engineering his life.” Duffin is a world champion and the owner of a world class training facility. I feel confident saying that he didn’t “find” those things. He worked and created them and built his life so that they would happen.
His life was built. It wasn’t found. No one “finds” a four times his body weight squat for Croms sake. That takes work (hopefully, this is obvious). And so does being a world champion.
Does Duffin have a passion for lifting? I don’t know the guy too well, but it certainly looks like it. Does he have a passion for coaching? I would resoundingly say yes based on what I've seen from him so far. Did he ascend to the level he’s at by accidence and coincidence? Hell no. He built it.
There Isn't Any Such Thing As Luck in Love
This past year was by conventional definition the most “successful” of my career in the fitness field. I reached financial independence and resolved my short-term debt. I was offered a fantastic opportunity by John Meadows to work under him at Mountaindogdiet.com. I was published for the first time in print magazines and was actually paid to write. I ended up writing more content that ever before, and I was able to travel internationally with a client of mine and create some amazing experiences. I've accomplished little in the field other than I'm not broke (most personal trainers are) and I'm not living hand to mouth. But what I have done is vastly outweighed by what I have yet to learn and do.
Personal feelings aside, in sharing my personal experiences with others, I was surprised at how often I was told, “You’re so lucky!” Over the course of many interactions, it struck me how often people viewed “success” not as a process of living but as a state of chance. My “luck” came from many hours of work. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the more I worked, the “luckier” I found myself.
I was often asked how I had “found” my passion, and my answer was always a surprising one. I didn't have any “passion” for training when I first started. It was simply something that I liked to do. I knew that I'd enjoy the job of training, so I got certified and started doing it. My passion for it now, my love for it now, developed over a period of years. Many times I wanted to quit. I almost walked away completely twice.
But I turned around and walked back because I had a belief that if I worked hard enough at it, I could create a respectable life out of it. So the more I improved and the longer I did it, the more my “passion” for it grew. At this point in time, I unabashedly love what I do and it’s an unending torrent, but that was an active process done over days and weeks and months and years, not a happy coincidence in a single day.
The cultivation of passion is an intentional process. Over a period of time, a process can become unconscious and habitual. However in the beginning, it is all built upon conscientious action, not random actions or lack of thought. You build it. And you build it continuously over time.