The Passion Plan:
A Step-by-Step Guide to Discovering, Developing, and Living Your Passion
by Richard Chang
Published by Jossey-Bass Publishers
Hardcover - 285 pages - $25.00
Seven Deterrents to Discovering,
Developing, and Living Your Passion
If you really want to be the best that you can be, become more
self-fulfilling, and live from the heart, break down the barriers that
prevent passion from flowing into your life and rely on yourself and your
passion to turn your hopes into reality.
When you make decisions based on your heart's desires, and not on
society's prescriptions, you open the floodgates to a source of energy,
commitment, and inspiration. If you want to discover your passion, move
beyond the paralysis that grips you and prevents you from heeding your
heart. A wide range of emotions can lock you into a state of inaction. To
break their grip, first acknowledge and confront them.
The Deterrents to Passion
Fear--There is no greater impediment to your personal progress than fear,
with the greatest fear being the unknown. Passion is a mystery; often you
do not know where it will lead you. You may wonder what life would be like
if you followed your heart and changed careers or took on new challenges,
then fear creeps in and you create elaborate scenarios of failure. If you
were considering taking up ballroom dancing for fun, which is relatively
risk-free, under the influence of fear you might wonder, "What if I
don't like the instructor? What if my partner has two left feet? What if I
make an absolute fool of myself?"
Self-doubt--An extension of fear, self-doubt focuses on your personal
inadequacies. It makes you question your abilities and potential. Let's
assume you have a passion for learning and are considering applying for
graduate school. If you are battling self-doubt, you might stare at the
application for weeks before finally tossing it out, thus nipping your
passion in the bud. Self-doubt leads you to imagine yourself becoming a
failure rather than a success, miserable rather than happy. Succumb to it
and you are powerless to embrace your passion.
Paralysis--When confused or uncertain, you have a tendency to freeze up
and prevent yourself from making a change. Paralysis of the heart afflicts
you at times when you need your passion most--when you need the boost of
adrenaline and self-confidence it can inspire. I have a colleague who was
deeply unhappy in his job and longed to find a new one, but for some
reason could not bring himself to look for one. He knew he wanted and
needed it, but nothing in his life inspired him or empowered him to take
this step. Whatever passion he possessed was trapped in the grip of
Numbness--You may become so accustomed to the demands and stresses of life
that you move beyond paralysis into numbness. You no longer know what
brings you pleasure or pain; all experiences simply blur together in a
continuum of emotional disconnectedness. You might be miserable at work,
but unable to identify your job as the source of your unhappiness. Perhaps
you've felt apathetic for so long that you assume it is the way things are
supposed to be. You are not acutely aware that you are unhappy, but you
also are not aware that you are missing the joy that accompanies passion.
Limited scope--In this age of special interests, you may tend to define
yourself by category: male or female; black, white, or brown; white-collar
or blue-collar; twentysomething or baby boomer. This may help you identify
with others in similar circumstances, but it limits the scope of what
you've come to expect or hope for. When you label yourself in this
fashion, you accept a gamut of characterizations that have nothing to do
with who you really are or what is in your heart.
Procrastination--How many times have you heard, "I'm going to quit my
job as soon as I save enough money" or "I'm going to take up
that hobby again as soon as I have more time"? Not surprisingly,
these people procrastinate, never finding enough money or enough time to
make a change.
Caution--Even if you do make changes often, you may do so in ways so
controlled and calculated that you leave little if any room for passion to
enter. You may not want to test the waters of the unknown or push the
limits of your abilities to discover or develop your passion. You may
never know failure, but you may also never know the success that comes
with unleashing your passion.
Don't Ask Why, Ask Why Not
You are not trapped unless you choose to be. If you are confronted with
challenges or tests of mettle, and you back down and deny your
self-knowledge, you make it easy for all the forces that sap and kill
passion to enter. Instead of asking yourself why (Why should I take a
risk? Why would I be any better than anyone else? Why should I try?), ask
why not. With your passion in play, you become super-charged, super-able.
You can take risks because it is the only way to reap real rewards. You
will be better because you care. You will try because if you don't, you
will always regret your choice.
No matter how trapped you feel, passion can get you out. It can change
your life. When you let passion in, the barriers to happiness and
excellence seem smaller, and you feel more motivated and empowered to
break them down. You become excited. You have the energy to accomplish
more and the courage to doubt yourself less. You make choices that build
up your spirit rather than tear it down. You become uplifted and
If you agree that passion is lacking in your life, and you desire to bring
it back, live from the heart. As you consider your life--where you are now
and where you want to go--give priority to the promptings of your heart.
Trust it. Do not disparage or discredit your feelings. Accept them and
then move forward with them. This does not mean you should follow them
blindly or ignorantly; simply that you should give credence to them and
realize that they are an integral part of you.
Once you acknowledge your passion, shape it. As you incorporate it into
your existence, your life will become an accurate reflection of your
hopes, desires, sensitivities, and sensibilities. Most importantly, you
will self-actualize. You will become the person you want to be--the person
you know you can be.
Reprinted with permission of Richard Chang.
Visit the Passion Plan web site at http://www.thepassionplan.com/.
(c) 1999 Richard Chang, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
The Passion Plan