Four years ago, I had a well-paying job in a terrible economy, a mortgage and loans to pay off, and a family of five to support.
So you can see it was the perfect time to sell my house (did I mention the housing market had recently bottomed out?), move my family across the state to a new place where we knew no one, and kick up dust in pursuit of a crazy dream: open my own yoga studio and teach yoga full-time.
I enjoyed my job as a senior manager at a multi-national corporation, but it was just a job—it didn’t light my fire. What did was the one day a week I got to teach yoga. Yoga ignited my passion. It was what I read about, researched, practiced and even dreamt about. Of course, I didn’t talk about it, since doing so would have exposed me to judgment from others and myself. So how did I overcome my fear and find the confidence to turn my dreams into reality?
1. Listen to intuition. There are times when our heart speaks to us and we know what it is that we want to do. Unfortunately, we don’t often listen to that voice or we let fear and doubt creep in. I urge you not to smother your intuition. Follow the path laid out clearly by your heart.
2. Write it down and say it aloud. Once I realized I wanted to turn yoga into a career, I wrote a one-page business plan outlining my career transition over a five-year period. It was only three months after writing my plan that an opportunity presented itself, and within six months I had made my dream a reality. Writing down our goals helps us define a vision and share that vision with others.
3. Be determined. If you give up the first time you experience rejection, you will most likely fail. Passionate people do something because they love it, not because they are seeking the approval of others. Be determined enough that you can keep naysayers out of your way and get to work.
4. Have faith. Have faith in yourself and the seeds you are sowing; they may seem dormant at times, but eventually they will grow.
5. Do it for love. Don’t follow your passions in the pursuit of money or recognition. Fame and fortune are not enough of a motivator to get you through the hardest times, and trust me, there will be many hard times. Follow your passion because it is in your soul; this is your life’s work, not your work life.
6. Be realistic. While our dreams may be limitless, it’s good to be realistic about your passions and set reasonable expectations. Recognize how long it may take to turn your passion into your work, and realize that even tough moments and roadblocks are helping you build a foundation for your future. Resilience gives you the fortitude to carry on, and in time, you will look back and be amazed by how far you have come.
7. Care about others. The truth is, there’s no such thing as “self-made.” Our success depends upon help from others, whether it is the people who have educated us, those who have given us our first break, or those customers who have been buying our products and services. Recognizing the contributions of and caring for others will help us be happier and build our support network.
8. Redefine failure. Successful people view failure as a stepping stone to success. Each time you fall short of achieving your goals, you have an opportunity to learn and evolve so you can be successful the next time around. View failure as a way to find out what doesn’t work so you can discover what does.
9. Think big. A wonderful mentor once advised that while small details would take care of themselves, the Big Picture could only be realized if I gave it my full attention. This is especially true when following our passions. Burgeoning opportunities can divert our attention from our goals. Keep your sights set on what you love and don’t get lost in the weeds.
10. Know your finances. You don’t need as much money to live as you think you do. Pursuing your passion may mean sacrificing your earnings for a few years, but if you’re great at what you do, there’s potential for financial growth. Plan ahead, know your monthly costs, consider part-time work, save up now and consider your financial discipline as an investment in your future.
There will always be reasons to avoid risk and take the path of least resistance, but if you are passionate, you will cultivate the patience, determination and love to follow through.
Follow your passion and make it your work.
Kevan Gale is co-owner of Stil Studio, located in Dedham, MA. His dynamic and vigorous Fluid Yoga classes are an expression of meditative movement. You can practice with Kevan at Stil Studio or online at Myyogaonline.com. His goal is to spread happiness far and wide and to inspire students to live their fullest lives.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta