Do You Need A Certain Set-up For Your Passion?


 

Abstract:
 

When I asked my client why she wasn’t painting more often – which is her No. 1 passion – she said: “I’m tired after work, and then I need to set up the easel and get my paints from the top cupboard with a step ladder, and it sounds silly, but some days it’s just too much.”
 

It didn’t sound silly at all. I thought she was making a lot of sense. Your mission today is to make sure you’re set up for pursuing your passion.
 
 

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Task 1: Caveat – Don’t rely on circumstances

 

I’ll start out with a disclaimer. Needing a certain set-up to pursue your passion shouldn’t become an excuse not to pursue it. Don’t think that just because you don’t have the perfect set-up one day, for whatever reason, you can’t do what lights you up.
 

This is about making things easier for you, not establishing a set of conditions. Don’t become too dependent on having the required set-up; that would be counter-productive.
 

set-up for your passion
 

Task 2: Create the perfect set-up for your passion

 

The client I just mentioned ended up creating a painting corner in her home office. It was a space where her easel could just remain standing and behind it was a small chest of drawers with plenty of paper, all her paints and brushes, and everything else she needed.
 

This is the idea. Whatever your passion is, it’ll probably require a certain set-up to pursue. If you’re a musician, don’t lock away your instrument or sheet music – have them at hand. If you’re pursuing a field of study, keep your books and desk or sofa at eye level and in a comfortable corner.
 

Creating your own “crafting corner” or “thinking haven” has a powerful effect. You’re literally allowing your passion to take up space in your life. This doesn’t just make it easier to pursue your passion even if you’re tired or not in the mood, it also puts a focus on what lights you up.
 

Vlog 7: Holidays In Austria, Love & Loss


 

Holidays in Austria, Love & Loss

 

Holidays in Austria! In August, I spent three peaceful days in Bad Aussee and managed to take some gorgeous footage of the Ausseerland with my drone. It helped me come to terms with a recent personal loss.
 

You better not miss the drone footage of Lake Altaussee!
 

Also featured in this vlog: Salzburg (and the Salzburg Festival), Vienna, and my new home in Croatia.
 

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holidays in austria


 

Joy Is A Profound Emotion (Not Just Sadness Or Anger)


 

Abstract:
 

I remember watching an interview with David Bowie many years ago, where he said that people always equate profound emotion and also deep thought with things like anger or sadness, when really it’s much more subversive nowadays to be happy.
 

Joy is anything but a superficial emotion, and it’s well worth pursuing. Your mission today is to learn why this is so and how you can go about it.
 
 

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Task 1: Why joy is a profound emotion

 

I’ve spoken about our evolutionary negativity bias before, but this goes far beyond that. It’s about the way we have created almost a cult around anything negative today.
 

News exploit the fact that people are drawn to negativity. Even academics has succumbed to the cult of the sad and angry, to the point where fictional books or movies with a happy ending are seen as shallow on principle.
 

Historically, strong emotions have always moved artists to create their best works. However, it’s not just sadness or frustration, but also happiness, being in love, finding joy – just think of religious hymns and paintings. Joy is a profound emotion, too.
 
 

Task 2: The challenges of focusing on joy

 

As Bowie stated, in our culture it’s akin to a revolutionary act to be happy. You’ll be faced with all sorts of prejudices and obstacles such as:

  • People will assume that you’re superficial
  • People will assume that you’re naive and inexperienced
  • Some will try and take advantage of you
  • “Negativity-splainers” will go out of their way to tell you negative stories to make you more “realistic”

To stand against the united forces of negativity takes a lot. Stick it out, though; it’s worth it.
 

joy is a profund emotion
 

Task 3: How to pursue joy and happiness

 

Here are three steps you can take to become a happy revolutionary:

  • Stop watching or reading news for a while
  • List 3 things you’re grateful for every day
  • If you’re happy and you know it… acknowledge it. Write it down, tell others.

Happiness and joy are habits just like everything else. If you work on it regularly, you’ll feel much more joy almost every day.
 

Slow Down, Simplify Your Life, And Make Space For Your Passion

make space for your passion
 

Social media circulate images of pretty young women looking dreamily into the middle distance whilst sitting in a window seat and holding a mug of tea. It’s easy to relate to a peaceful scene like this, but what does it really say? What does it take to actually simplify, and how can you apply this to your own life? How do you make space for your passion?
 

First, I’d like to hit you with a hard truth: Slowing down is anything but easy.
 

It’s one of those things people would rather die than admit, a bit like their addiction to their phone or social media. We think of these things as weaknesses and typical of shallow people who always chase the next high. Surely, we ourselves are more refined, looking for deeper meaning and savouring life?
 

The truth is that stress addiction is common amongst people of all ages, all social backgrounds and all levels of education and/or intelligence. In short, it’s got nothing to do with how well you’re equipped to handle your life.
 
 

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Why I failed at slowing down

 

This is something I found out when after years of working a full-time job as well as two businesses, I finally gave up the job and moved to Croatia. I had been dreaming of and longing for slow, blissful days of a perfect balance between work and my passions, as well as lots of rest.
 

Six months in, I noticed to my surprise that I was still stressed and short of time. I couldn’t figure out why – objectively, I was doing so much less! But the truth is, stress is an addiction. The way we live in our modern world, the way we are brought up and the ideals we are taught, all promote an adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle. By the time we’re adults, we’re adrenaline junkies.
 

I was perpetuating the stress because on some level, I needed it. It took more than just outward changes to overcome the addiction.
 


 

Make space for your passion: Be prepared

 

In order to actually slow down, you’ll need to be aware that it requires far more than simply “doing fewer things”. Therefore, these are the first steps to take:
 

1. Expect to be profoundly uncomfortable for a while. Being prepared for a hard time ensures you won’t be taken by surprise. You’re about to break an addiction, and those are known for putting up a tough fight.
 

2. Plan for a period of transition. Exactly zero people have gone from stress to zen in a week or two. Realistically, you’ll need at least 3 months to ease yourself into, well, ease. You’ll need reminders to make space for your passion.
 

3. Be 100% clear that you’re choosing to be the odd one out, the weird one, forever. Our world is not designed for the simple life. You’ll fly in the face of everything that makes this society tick, from the need to grow the economy (through consumerism and hard work) to bragging rights as a parent or feeling smug because of how much you’re getting done. Busy is equalled with successful in our world, and it hurts to be seen as a failure or weakling – don’t fool yourself into thinking you “don’t care what other people think” of you. It’ll hurt.
 
 

Make space for your passion: Make the changes

 

Once the above is in place, it’s time to actually take the plunge. Whilst each person’s situation is different, here’s a rough outline of the steps to take.
 

4. This is likely going to be a work in progress: Determine what changes you’re willing to make. It may seem easy for a single person to let go of things and activities, but are you truly prepared to do it? And what if you have children? Are you prepared to move your family to a rural area, to downsize on Christmas gifts and performance pressure in school, to really embrace a whole new lifestyle? Or would you rather just make some small adjustments? Be honest with yourself.
 

5. Put in place the changes you decided on, in whatever way is appropriate. You needn’t – and in many cases, can’t – do it all at once. Easy does it, and coming off the adrenaline high gradually might make the transition smoother. Have a lot of patience with yourself and those around you and don’t expect miracles.
 

6. This is the most important part, and the one most people forget (I did, too): Work on overcoming your adrenaline addiction. This can take many forms, such as severely reducing your time online and/or in front of screens, taking daily walks in nature, taking up meditation, consciously doing nothing for certain periods of time, spending time on your passions, quality time with your loved ones…
 


 

What I did to simplify and create space

 

Full disclosure, I should have titled this part “What I’m doing to…”, present tense. It’s an ongoing project. I don’t feel stressed any longer a lot of the time, but I still get caught up in “busy-ness” occasionally. My recent house purchase and move (which you’ll know about if you follow my vlogs) was one of those situations!
 

All in all, though, I’ve managed to actually decelerate and create a lot of space for myself, the people who matter, and my passions. Here are some examples of what I put in place:

  • Checking and replying to emails and social media posts a maximum of 3 times a day.
  • At least an hour of offline time in the evening.
  • Occasional offline days at the weekend.
  • Actually prioritising my passions by taking a lot of time for them every single day.
  • Cultivating contact with friends outside of texting: Voice messages, long emails, Skype/Zoom, personal meet-ups.
  • Working less. And still less. Funnily enough, my income has increased (no, that’s not a co-incidence. More about this some other time!).
  • Resting when I need to, even if it’s “a lot” and means I’m not getting anything done.
  • No longer stating how busy I am when I chat to friends or acquaintances.
  • Moving to a mountain village where even just the view and the peace and quiet cause me to relax.

And there you have it! Your own path might look similar or completely different. Don’t be afraid to experiment and to discard things that don’t work for you. Stick with it and one day you’ll feel yourself breathing happiness. Your passions will soar. And that truly is worth every effort.
 

Are You Too Lazy For Your Passion?


 

Abstract:
 

People I talk to – my clients and others – tell me they “could” pursue their passion, that they have time. “But then I just watch TV, or waste hours on my phone, or doing nothing. I’m just too lazy,” they say.
 

When I investigate further, I always get to the bottom of this. Spoiler alert: I haven’t come across a “lazy” person in my life!
 

Your mission is to learn why you’re not lazy, and what to do to find the energy and motivation to pursue your passion.
 
 

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Task 1: Too lazy for your passion?

 

I have talked about this subject before, so I’ll keep it brief: You’re not lazy. Don’t believe it? Answer the following questions for yourself:

  • How regularly do you get rest, as in, downtime (nothing to do, so you can nap, put up your feet, do or don’t do whatever you like)?
  • Then: how regularly do you practise self care?
  • How much time, on average, do you have per day, that’s not filled with work, appointments, regulated activities (scheduled workouts, clubs, etc.) or chores?

If you have only a few hours per day that aren’t regulated, don’t expect to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and all ready to pursue what lights you up! Humans aren’t designed to fill every minute of every day.
 

too lazy
 

Task 2: Create the energy to pursue your passion

 

You may think you’d have time if you just stopped watching TV, but that’s not the point. The problem is that you overtax your brain with so much overstimulation, you’re literally not capable of anything other than watching TV in the evening.
 

So what do you do to find the energy for your passion and be happy?
 

The answer is, you need to radically downsize. Nothing changes if you don’t change anything! Stop comparing yourself and trying to keep up with the Joneses. You’re you. And if you’re a person with a passion, you’ll need lots of free time – for rest, for self care, for your loved ones, and to pursue your passion.