I never had a shortage of ideas. There have been hundreds of business ideas, investment solutions, hobbies, side hustles, career moves and plans to move abroad that have passed through my brain over the years. In fact, I often had too many ideas about what to do. They caused a cacophony of voices in my head, all wanting different things and telling me to run in different directions.
It was impossible to know where to go, and in most cases, this resulted in me doing nothing at all. I waited it out. Waited for something to stick. I believed that my true calling, or passion, would come to me like an epiphany, like a strike of lightning on a rainy day.
Only recently did I realize that this is not at all how it works. It was a terrible strategy to do nothing at all while hoping that one day, in a distant future, I would get the life that I really wanted.
It was time to stop waiting, to stop searching for that one and only passion. I wrote about that in this story.
Instead of waiting for passion to strike, I started to follow my curiosity. I did so without having any idea of where it would take me or even what the end goal was.
There was no doubt that this was a much better strategy. However, it quickly became clear that I don’t have time to explore everything I am curious about. If I want one of these ideas to lead to something one day, like a side hustle, a serious hobby or just an area of learning for me, I need to start focusing at some point. There are only twenty-four hours in a day, after all.
After pulling at all these threads that provoked my curiosity, I found myself standing there with a ball of yarn in my arms that I couldn’t untangle. Which one of these ideas should I explore further? What do I really want to continue working on? What will become so important to me that I can persist through setbacks and overcome obstacles in my way?
I wrote down all my options. Then I chose a couple of projects to begin with and committed to start working on them. I let go of the rest for now. I also completely let go of the need to know the outcome. This was not about getting a certain result – it was only about digging deeper into two specific ideas and let them lead me.
I did not expect anything other than my own commitment to show up and do the work. That’s how I got started.
I always knew though, that as the projects grew, I would have to narrow it down even more. I would have to choose one project or idea and move forward with that one first. But how would I make that choice? I enjoyed both of the ideas/projects that I had started working with.
This is what happened:
Project 1: I loved working on this project. I lost track of time. But I also kept resisting, I procrastinated, I struggled to move forward. Even though the project itself was aligned with things I had done earlier in life and that I enjoy doing, I always felt slightly pressured. I told myself that I only felt that way because the project was important to me, because I wanted to do well. I struggled to stick to the principal of ignoring the results. I constantly found myself focusing on the outcome. Was it good? Would people like it? Was I on track?
I got upset with myself for letting fear of failure get in my way. Or was it perhaps a fear of success?
I kept hearing the phrases “If it won’t open, it’s not your door” and “Once you find what you are meant to do, you won’t work another day in your life, because it won’t feel like work” in my head.
This felt very much like work. Was this the wrong project? Although I enjoyed it, I struggled. I switched to the other voices in my head; “Winners persist” and “So many people give up right before their luck is about to turn”.
Persistence is the key. I had to keep going.
Project 2: I started working with this project in the same way as with Project 1. I did what I could in the evenings and on weekends. I started from scratch and I had no idea where it would go. Already a few weeks into it though, the feeling was different. Something shifted. Just as with Project 1, I struggled, I ran into obstacles, I had to learn new things every day and made mistakes all the time.
I had to overcome issues, had to keep fighting. I could feel myself growing, learning and developing by the minute. And I loved that. I got excited. When I wasn’t working on the project, it was usually due to lack of time, or because I had to step back and consider the next step. It was never because of inner resistance.
I am still working on this project and no inspirational quotes or excuses pop into my head.
It is true that I have to persist – but now I want to.
It’s hard work – but always worth it.
There are obstacles and doors that shut in my face – but I innovate to find ways around them.
I can’t stop thinking about tweaks and new things I can do with the project.
I hurry out of bed in the morning to get started (no, not every morning, but it certainly happens more often than not).
I don’t have to care about the methods I use or others’ reactions to what I am working on – I am doing this either way.
Giving up is not an option. Even without the results I may secretly be hoping for (if I for a second even think about that), I would still go on, knowing that I will keep learning and keep finding new solutions as I go.
I can’t see the end, because I am not there yet. And that’s not troubling – it’s exciting. I am curious to see where this road will take me.
What a waste of time all these years when I wanted to see the entire path ahead of me, when that could never had happened. It’s like wanting something that hasn’t even been invented yet.
I know that now.
When you find your way, it’s like slowly falling in love. You don’t know when you will meet someone, how you will feel when you get to know them or what will happen. You don’t know if you will get married, have kids and live happily ever after, or if you will just become friends or lovers.
But you know that you like each other and that you will be in each other’s lives somehow.
It can’t be explained or predicted.
You just feel it as it happens.
That’s how I feel about this project. I don’t worry about it. I will give it my best. It will run its course. Now I know what it feels like when you know what you want. When you are on the right path.
It defies logic. It can get messy. It may be painful sometimes. And good advice won’t always help.
But it’s always worth it.
Just as with love.