What do you want to be when you grow up?
That’s one of the questions most of us are asked at some point in our lives. The funny thing was I’ve been asked that by some people when I was in my thirties! Got to laugh.
The point is we don’t usually have any real idea when we’re young and unless we have a someone to guide us or a burning desire to do something, we often end up getting a job and struggle to find our even follow a true passion.
Is Your Passion Killing You?
But what about when you do find it, have you ever found yourself in a position where your passion is literally killing you?
‘But that’s not supposed to happen’ I hear many of you cry in despair. ‘we’re always told to follow our passion and we’ll never work another day in our lives!’.
I can hand on heart tell you that’s not the case. Not always.
I was one of those mentioned earlier, where I didn’t have a real idea of what I wanted to do when I left school and even though my first job was in one of the most reputable merchant banks of the time in London, it wasn’t for me, so I left and took a job in shipping.
At the time I wasn’t really sure what it entailed but it sounded good and I liked the idea of making more money!
I Love My Job
However, pretty soon, it became more than a job. In fact, I didn’t look at it as a job; I couldn’t wait for Monday morning to come to get to ‘work’ and have fun. Yeah, fun. It was exciting, full on, energetic and there was pressure to perform, but I absolutely loved it.
Dealing with people all over the world, discovering what made them tick, their culture, the way they did business, different languages and different humour, was such an education and I felt so lucky to be doing what I was doing.
Over time, the challenges got bigger, the pressure increased, the stakes got higher and it involved longer hours and more travelling, but it was still so much fun.
However, it didn’t stay like this. There is always a different side to everything and in my desire to succeed and be so engulfed in my passion, I omitted to pay attention to what was happening in other areas of my life: friends, my family and my health.
Having such a different type of job meant incredibly long hours, including weekends and being available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Ships don’t stop at 5 o’clock and park up for the night we were always told, they run 24 hours a day. So did we.
There’s Always a Price…
Which meant friends stopped inviting us to certain functions as I was rarely if ever available and it started becoming the same with the family. Missed kids parties, being absent mentally when you were with them. The kids aren’t silly, they know when you’re with them and when you’re not.
I wasn’t as fit as I thought I was and I wasn’t eating as healthily as I thought I was; business entertaining in the way of lunches and dinners, wine and beer and sleepless nights all took it’s toll. At times we’re oblivious to what’s really happening when we’re blinded by what’s in front of us and how it will affect us down the line. Just like someone who puts on a large amount of weight, they don’t notice the first, second or third day or even months. Then one day they suddenly become aware something’s not quite the way it used to be or the way they want it to be.
The same can be said with many other things, and so it was with my passion. Over time it was slowly killing me, and I should have taken heed when, in my early thirties I had a panic attack at my desk but I thought I was having a full on heart attack. Incredibly scary to say the least, but I was still blinkered, thinking “I’ll be ok tomorrow, I’ve got to get back and get x,y and z done”.
The problem was not being able to recognise the signs, thinking we’re invincible and having nothing to balance the effects of the pressures, which ultimately affected how I was performing and the results.
Eventually after 30 years, the realisation was that my passion was indeed killing me, and it was time to get out before they carried me out, this time in a box. I had been fortunate on numerous ocassions, but others weren’t and they kidded themselves they’d be ok right to the very end.
I’ve found another passion now, speaking and helping others master their mental performance and I’m fortunate enough to have discovered the pitfalls.
Take some time to think and see if your passion is affecting other areas of your life and if so, it may just be time to do something about it.