THE BLOG
01/16/2015 05:36 pm ET Updated Mar 18, 2015

7 Reasons We Don't Pursue Our Passions (And How to Move Past Them)

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We are all born with little tiny seeds of inspiration inside of us. It's our soul's greatest purpose to nurture these seeds and allow them to blossom, fully sharing their beauty with the world during this lifetime. It's why we all have unique talents, likes, interests, and passion.

However, as we grow into adulthood, we often often lose connection to this source. Caught up in the responsibility of daily lives, our passion and true desire gets put on the back burner. We decide we will 'play' with it later. At the same time, so many people are unsatisfied with their lives. Even if everything looks picture perfect from the outside, often times there is a feeling of discontentment.

In my own life, I clearly remember my love of writing, even as a very young girl. In first and second grade, we would be instructed to write short stories at our desk. I would be so immersed in my writing that I would not even notice that the rest of the kids had finished their assignments and had moved on to another activity. I've missed entire recesses finishing up my own stories.

So many of my teachers were supportive and suggested I would be a writer when I grow up. This continued on until around high school. When our guidance counselors began discussing career choices with us and we are encouraged to select our college majors, I remember looking at graphics showing different career choices and the average salary. Writer and journalist were at the low end of the spectrum. I had never really considered that aspect of it before. I didn't have anybody encouraging me to follow my heart. I felt more encouraged to follow the dollars, at the point. And so I did.

I ended up majoring in business and followed a career path in sales and marketing. Somehow, I did still end up connected to my passion for engaging with people and helping them solve problems. Eventually, I became an entrepreneur and built a seven-figure company from the ground up, which kept me connected to my passion for creating and building. But, it wasn't until many years later that I started writing again. There is a saying that when you aren't honoring your passion, you are suffocating your soul. And, it's true that something felt off for all of those years. But, once I became committed to writing again, and started blogging regularly, so many beautiful shifts started happening in my life. Now, I am finalizing the writing of my first book (a lifelong dream) and I've expanded to my career to include consulting and mentoring other women (particular budding entrepreneurs), which is work that I truly enjoy.

Passion presents itself in so many different forms and fashions. It's that thing that lights us up from the inside out. It's that activity that makes us lose all track of time and sense of space around us. It's the thing we find ourselves talking about ALL the time, perhaps to the point of sounding like a broken record to our friends and family. And, when we do talk about it, our hearts start beating a little faster and our words might even get a little jumbled in the excitement. It's the thing that we would spend our whole day doing if money wasn't an issue.

So why is it that so many people are unsatisfied with their current work? Why do we ignore our hearts calling and continue down the path of status quo?

The are the top seven reasons we don't pursue our passion and how to move past them.

  1. The story we tell ourselves. "I can't, because _____." Whether we think we can or we think we can't, we're totally right. Mindset is everything. It will make us or break us. Negative thoughts are tricky and can sneak in when we least expect them; perhaps in the form of letting our history define our present or simply not letting our self-confidence shine through. Instead: Become incredibly mindful of thoughts and make sure they are empowering. What we think, we create, after all. Does the story in your head match the one in your heart? Trade in those self-sabotaging thoughts for ones that support your dreams.
  2. That pesky day job. People constantly tell me that they would love to pursue their dream, but they can't quit their day job. Why does it have to be one or the other? A lot of people trick themselves into thinking they will work really, really hard and then one day they can retire and do what they really love. What if that day never comes? Life is meant to be lived right here in the now. Don't find yourself on your deathbed looking back with regrets on a life that was not fully lived. Instead: Figure out how you to work your passions into daily life. Maybe it's by focusing on certain aspects of a job or taking on some new responsibilities. Perhaps it's becoming an evening and weekend warrior, trading in some mindless TV time for some mindful life-loving time. With the right planning and execution, it is very possible to turn passion into a full time gig, over time, but it does require putting in the work and even making some sacrifices to make it happen.
  3. Not knowing what 'it' is yet. Many of us still find ourselves searching for the answer to the age-old questions, "what am I here for?" We put pressure on the task of figuring out our dharma (Sanskrit for our life's purpose). Instead: Don't try so hard. There is no need to go searching for something that is already inside. Instead of chasing and forcing, we can find the answer we desire in stillness and meditation. (And, before you say you 'can't' meditate, which I hear all the time, please check yourself at no. 1. If you can sit and breathe, you can meditate) Go inward. The answers are always closer than we think.
  4. Passion posse. Not surrounding ourselves with the right support & encouragement can put the stops on the passion train. Some well-meaning friends and family members can become dream-killers, without even knowing it. "You can't do that - you won't make any money." or "That sounds impossible, there's no way you can pull it off." Instead: Find your tribe. Surround yourself with mentors and like-minded folks who share the same desire of bringing their own dreams to life and support and learn from each other.
  5. Fear of failure. This one can be absolutely paralyzing. Sometimes we want something so bad that the thought of it not coming to fruition can stop us in our tracks. But, what is more scary than not trying at all? Instead: Remember this: There are no failures, only feedback. This means that as long as you are trying, you are making forward progress. The most successful people I know have a long trail of 'failures' in their rear-view. The difference: the successful ones think of those 'failures' as the invaluable learning experiences that they are. Learn, adjust, and keep on trucking. Don't fear the illusion of failure.
  6. Not taking that first step. I know from experience that the first step is the absolute scariest. When I first launched my personal blog into the world three years ago, I recall with crystal clear vision sitting at my computer with hand hovering over the publish button. "What if nobody reads it? What if they hate it? What if I get trolled?" were the crazy thoughts swishing through my head. Instead: Instead hit that button (whatever the button means to you). It will be a fun adventure. Like me, you will survive and life might just end up like a bazillion (as my 7 year old would say) times better for it. Leap and the net truly will appear.
  7. Getting tripped up the vastness of the vision. When we hold this huge dream in our heart and in our mind, it can sometimes feel overwhelming when have yet to even take that first step. As cliche as it sounds, Rome was certainly not built in a day. It took a lot of labor and lot of stones, but piece by piece, the gorgeous city was built. The very same applies to our beautiful dreams. Instead: Draw yourself a roadmap. On paper, start breaking things down into manageable chunks. How long would you like to take to get to the end vision? What needs to happen each year to get there? Each month? Each week? Each day? Each hour? It's not rocket science. But, it is planning and execution. When you start building your dreams brick by brick, you start to actually see them grow, the landscape changes. Keep the big vision always in your heart, but keep the daily focus on the placement of each stone it takes to create it.

(Dawn Gluskin is author of forthcoming Type-A Zen, founder of Zen Rebel, and former CEO of a 7-figure tech company. She is now hosting Shine, a 6 month mastermind for budding entrepreneurs with limited spots available for those who want guidance and support in bring their vision to life. For more inspiration, follow on Facebook & Instagram.)