What are you most passionate about? What gets you out of bed in the morning because you can’t wait to get to it? How are you manifesting that passion in your everyday life?
My observation is that although people assert that they are passionate about various activities, events, or causes, their actions often fail to match their words. That is, they seem to spend relatively little time or energy actually doing the things they say they are passionate about. Why is this point worth noting? Because priorities are the things we do, not the things we say we are going to do. This means that we each have to take responsibility for achieving – or not achieving - our stated priorities. We cannot blame others; the proverbial buck stops with us.
Consider this: when you say “I don’t have time to do X,” essentially you are saying “I choose to make something other than X a higher priority.” For example, if your son or daughter asks you to attend a soccer game and you say you can’t go because of a work-related commitment, your action demonstrates that, regardless of what you say, your work is a higher priority for you at that moment than attending your child’s game. Although you may blame the conflict on the boss or the pressures of your job, the fact is that you are the one making the choice.
What priorities are you demonstrating? If your actions do not match your stated passion, what’s preventing you from making it a priority? One of the most popular excuses that I hear is, “I don’t have the time.” Yet everyone has the same number of hours in the day to get things done, so what you really are saying is “I choose not to take the time to do this.” Another possible reason for incongruent actions and words may be the “reward” that people experience when they deny themselves the pleasure they would get from truly making their passion a priority. For example, some people seem to enjoy playing the victim or martyr role. The attention they get from others when they do so is the “juice” that encourages these behaviors.
In other cases, there may be long-held beliefs, conscious or unconscious, that prevent us from indulging in our passion. Do any of these beliefs sound familiar?
“You can go out to play after you finish your work.”
“We must put others’ needs before our own.”
“Rewards must be earned.”
Note the use of the terms “indulge” and “rewards” in the above paragraph. Even our words signal that our passions are luxuries. In fact, passion is not a “reward:” it’s a life force that gives us energy and compels us to share our gifts and talents with the world.
How can you truly make your passion a priority? Here are six ideas for your consideration:
- Create a really clear picture of where you want to go and how you want to be.
- Think about your "life" as a whole instead of blocking it into segments (e.g., work life, non-work life).
- Spend time focusing on what you are passionate about, and how you can incorporate that passion in all aspects of your life.
- Take ownership of your decisions.
- Recognize that your actions speak louder than words. To get a sense of what your priorities are, keep track of what you do for a week so you can begin to identify patterns of behavior and choices you make on a day-to-day basis. They will provide clues that can inform your future choices.
- Be sure your decisions honor and reflect your values.
Pat Lynch, Ph.D., is President of Business Alignment Strategies, Inc., a consulting firm that helps clients optimize business results by aligning people, programs, and processes with organizational goals. You may contact Pat or call (562) 985-0333.
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