The Gap – Part 2 – “The Fantasy of Passion”

We’re in the middle of a three-part series on closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be. In Part 1 of the series, I wrote on the importance of having heart (or pursuing your passion) and the role it plays in closing that gap. Too many people are doing work they hate and are miserable as a result.

But I also alluded to what I called “The Fantasy of Passion” – which is the ridiculous notion that if you’re doing work you love, you’ll always love it. In this post, I want to take the Fantasy of Passion and replace it with the Reality of Passion in the hopes that by doing so, you’ll be better prepared to appreciate the path you’re on (or will be on soon).

The Fantasy of Passion Defined

Everyday, we are deluged with images and stories of people who seem to have the coolest jobs in the world. And they seem to love every minute of their day. It’s almost like they never really have a bad day. We hear them talk about how they are pursuing their passions and how exciting it is for them.

Consequently, we expect that when we start pursuing our passion we’ll feel that way too. We’ll bounce out of bed an hour before the alarm even though we haven’t slept more than four hours the previous 2 weeks. And the best part? We’ll love it! Things will fall into place just like they did as we daydreamed a better life while sitting in a cubicle.

Laugh. But then be honest with yourself. It’s not really that far off. We’ve been conditioned to believe there is no nirvana like the pursuit of a passion. So much so that we think there could be no hardship with it. Or, at least if it’s hard work, it’ll be work that we love.

The Mind & Faulty Beliefs

When we start believing things like this, we set ourselves up for a hard, painful reality-check. Very few things are more devastating to a person than a shattered belief they held so tightly.

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.” – Thomas Paine

I believe that part of that is a willingness to be honest with ourselves. Otherwise, when our closely held beliefs (fantasies) collide with reality, the recovery can be long and difficult.

Pursuing Your Passion is Just Like Marriage

Have you ever talked to an engaged couple or one that was married a few short weeks ago? It’s enough to make you want to vomit. I was that person once. To this day, I don’t know why someone didn’t knock me unconscious in the middle of one of my “this is going to be great because we’ll do things differently…” speeches.

Don’t worry, there are two takeaways here:

1. People who are happily married for an extended period of time always make marriage sound incredibly wonderful. Because to them, it is. They don’t dwell on the hardships. They don’t complain about their spouse. They do the opposite – they praise them. You know that couple. You call them “Ken and Barbie” or some such thing. Happily married people work very hard at their relationship which means that, on the whole, it’s a great marriage.

This is a lot like those people you see who are pursing their passion and always seem happy. On the whole, they are. But they work their butts off. They have bad days. They want to strangle their partners, employees or clients. However, they keep pushing. They keep fighting. They keep working at it. They make it work because they refuse to let it fall apart. They love the whole of it more than they hate the individual struggles.

And when you look back on a wonderful marriage or a wonderful career path, the crappy days have a way of not being part of the picture.

2. Newlyweds see happily married couples and assume they’ll be just like them – or even better! They stare doughy-eyed at each other and the future and wonder, “What could possibly go wrong?” They want what that happily married couple has, but can’t possibly imagine all of the hardship and work and pain that goes into that beautiful relationship.

Those on the cusp of pursuing a passion are like newlyweds. Interestingly, most marriages and most businesses fail in the first 5 years. This is the period of time where the fantasy meets reality and a choice of what to do has to be made. Do you give up? After all, this isn’t what you signed up for. Right?

Preventing the Fantasy of Passion

Truthfully, you’ll never fully prevent it. We are dreamers and visionaries and optimists. But the key thing is to keep those dreams in healthy perspective. Remind yourself, and those on this path with you, that it’s going to be long, hard, constant work. Mentally prepare for working nights and weekends. Know that there will days, weeks or months where you want to quit.

Be “mentally faithful” to yourself. Don’t lie to yourself.

Question: Have you ever been caught up in the Fantasy of Passion? How did that impact you as you started pursuing that passion?