If you’re a practical thinker like I am, then your daily pursuit of optimum efficiency is paramount. Those are a lot of big words to say you’re really good at finding practical ways of doing things, and not so good at enjoying the things you’re actually passionate about.
Practicality is like a game to me. I love finding new ways to be more productive in my daily life. Be it to-do lists, scheduling, meal planning, multitasking — you name it. But I’ll admit I’ve got a terrible downfall: I forget to make time for my passions.
Being a bit of a perfectionist (old habits die hard) and an A-type personality, achieving goals really gets me going. If there’s room in my schedule, I’ll add something in. If there’s an empty spot on my to-do list, I fill it up. So much so that it’s not uncommon to have a list of unfinished tasks at the end of my day. Ugh.
I functioned relatively content like this for many years. It wasn’t until becoming a mom when my thinking really got challenged. I was strung out and frustrated that I couldn’t find a way to pursue what I love (even though I hadn’t make it a priority for several years). At the verge of tears, I nearly decided to chuck it all when some older and wiser moms rallied around me and reminded me to carve out time for those passions.
But finding time to pursue your passions isn’t just a feel-good rally cry.
Science has shown us that its actually good for our brains to go after those things that make us feel most alive. That taking the time to influence our lives with something we are enthusiastically positive about has an overflow-effect and can help us avoid being negative in other areas.
To bring the matter home further, studies show that taking time for creativity (which we often have to engage in to pursue our passions) strengthens the connections between our right and left brains. This allows electrical signals to pass more easily between the logic and creative areas of the brain. (Because let’s face it, even us practical-thinkers have to get pretty creative in our problem solving sometimes).
Personally, I can tell you that when I don’t have time to purse what I’m passionate about, I get down-right cranky. I’m not proud, just honest.
Your physiological and psychological well-being aren’t the only thing that can grown when you give those passions some room to breath. When you begin to step out, you’re also giving God a foothold to build into those passions that He likely gave you in the first place.
So what does carving out that time for your passions — especially when the list of responsibilities is a mile long — look like?
Well, I think the first step is:
Put your to-do list in it’s rightful place.
Your to-do list is an amoral thing. It is not the measure of your value. How much you get done does not dictate your worthiness. It is a tool to help you stay on track and get things done. Period. So a good place to start is putting your to-do list in its rightful place, and be realistic about what you can accomplish in a day (24 hours is just not enough to write that award-winning novel).
Create a schedule.
It sounds obvious and down-right boring, but it’s true. Add that chunk of time into your schedule. It might be an hour a day. It might only be ten minutes every other week. Whatever you can manage, create a time block and stick to it.
Talk to others about it.
This one has more power than you realize. When we talk about things, it has a habit of gearing our thoughts that direction and — consciously or not — we start to take steps toward it.
And you can take that a step even further. Remember Proberbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death.” (NIV) Speak life over your passion — say good things about it. Dare to dream out loud.
And what if you haven’t found your passion yet?
Yeah, I struggled with this one for years too. Some people are born knowing what they want to do. The rest of us…well, it takes some digging. Be willing to take a hard introspective look at yourself. What are your talents? What do you hate to stop doing? What do you lose yourself in?
And most importantly, shuck all your pre-conceived notions of what an “acceptable” passion is. Don’t entertain professional, social or family pressures. Or try to base your options on what others in your socio-economic class are doing. Your passion should be unique to you and your design. Let it be.
Do you struggle to know your passions? Or do you absolutely know? Let’s speak some life over them — share in the comments!
And just in case you’re super analytical like I am, here are some resources for you to look at, just in case you’re wondering where I got this hair-brained idea:
The role of passion in sustainable psychological well-being by Robert J Vallerand, 2012 https://psywb.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/2211-1522-2-1 (the list of works cited is also impressive)
Here’s Why Passion is Good for Your Health by Heidi Dietrich, Thrive Global 2017 https://medium.com/thrive-global/heres-why-passion-is-good-for-your-health-7e57b9ef1fb3