You may have the opportunity to feel passionate about a few things in this world. Ideally, you won’t just feel passion—you’ll incorporate this passion into your daily life over and over.
Unfortunately, most people don’t integrate their passions into their everyday lives. Sometimes, it’s because they have a deck that’s too stacked against them and they’re just trying to keep their head above water. Others simply don’t commit to living more passionately. They don’t take the time to assess where their passions really are and then lay out the actions necessary to incorporate them more seamlessly into their lives.
If you genuinely want to pursue your passions, then you can’t fall into this trap. You have to make a deliberate choice to build new habits that align with what really makes your heart beat faster.
Big passion doesn’t mean a big change
Committing to a passion doesn’t have to totally disrupt your life. In fact, once people know how well they’re incorporating what fires them up (on a scale of one to five, where one is not at all and five is totally crushing it every day), I tell them to identify just one action they can take toward that passion. That’s it. Just one.
If your passion is exercise, maybe you can finally start taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Or if your passion is painting, you can find a fun YouTube art demo or virtual exhibit to watch. Notice I didn’t suggest running a marathon or enrolling in art school. I simply suggested something you can add to your daily routine.
Whatever your one action is, it just needs to be something you can do over and over again consistently. After all, that’s what a habit is: a simple action you repeat.
Why do I tell people to start with just one small behavior change? Because little changes aren’t scary. And, they’re usually doable right now, today. You don’t have to wait for some grand parade to get started, and you shouldn’t.
Once you get that initial start, you’ll have a seed of confidence that can grow. You can link your initial action to another action, and so on and so on in a chain until you’ve totally reshaped how you’re living and you’re closer to what you want than ever before.
Aligning actions to goals and values improves your odds of success
You might already know plenty of things you can do to follow a passion. So, your next step is to take a look at all those potential actions and see what really aligns with your personality, goals, and values. Otherwise, those actions are going to clash with some of your goals or values, and then you might decide you don’t have time to follow your passions.
So, if your passion is exercise and one of your values is spending time with family, you could sign up for a 5k run/walk on a Saturday and do it with your family. This links your passion for exercise to your goal of spending more time with family.
I have to entertain clients, bankers, and investors, which usually means stuffy steakhouses and long dinners. After many years of entertaining in this way, I figured out how to tie one of my passions—sports—to building these important relationships with my business colleagues. Instead of a steakhouse, now I take my guests to a ballgame, which is something I am more passionate about. In doing this, I have also learned that this aligns with other people’s passions more than a glitzy dinner does as well.
Laying out your larger game plan
Once you’ve prioritized some actions that are a great fit, it’s time to lay out your larger game plan as specifically as possible. Lean back on the SMART goal framework and check that all your objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based.
For instance, how long will you practice Action 1 before you tackle Action 2? What’s the start date? Set it on your calendar. Is there anyone you need to ask to help you? Send that email. Do you need to buy anything? Set the amount of money you’ll save up and pick your store.
Seeing this big picture in relation to your passion is important because it allows you to envision what you’ll have or be like after all the work is done. That clarity is critical for keeping you motivated and figuring out if you’re really moving forward.
Remember, although the entire passion game plan might be huge, you’re only ever tackling one action from within the plan at a time. Cling to that concept to stay fearless through each step and make real progress.
Everyone has at least one passion. Many of us have more than one. No matter what your passion is or how many of them you might have, it’s possible to translate them into real, everyday behaviors that shift your life.
If you can find even one action to take toward your dream, latch onto it. If you let it propel you toward a sequence of new habits, and if you keep yourself focused step by step, then you’ll walk right into the happy, successful, and more passionate life you’ve always been after.
Brendan P. Keegan is the CEO of Merchants Fleet.