I’m not just a multi-passionate but also, well, a “passionate,” full stop. I get enthusiastic about things, and people. Anyone who’s ever met me knows this: When I see something new and shiny, I quickly get into it. It seems like I’ve found the answer to all my life’s questions and I simply can’t stop talking about my new discovery.
This also means that I can be a little, shall we say, inconsistent at times. I’ll get all excited about a new interest or hobby and throw myself at it with everything I’ve got. Four weeks later, I can hardly work up the motivation to look at it anymore. I’ve started learning several languages that way, began sports I later dropped, and applied to totally unsuitable jobs.
The thing isn’t trying out things and dropping them again. To a certain extent, this is normal behaviour. How are you going to tell whether something really is for you unless you try it? No, the issue is being able to tell whether your new interest truly isn’t right for you, or whether you’re simply past the “honeymoon phase” and running into a few challenges.
Being able to tell the difference is a useful skill, precisely because it’s not just hobbies we’re talking about here. Many people follow the same pattern when it comes to jobs, relationships, or their life’s dream. In the following, I provide you with a few healthy guidelines to help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
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Three questions to ask yourself
You used to love pottery when you first took it up, but now your latest project just won’t come out right and you can’t bring yourself to go anywhere near the pottery wheel anymore. Or, you thought you’d love web design, but after the first two weeks of the course you’re starting to wonder if you’re “technical” enough.
Here are three useful questions you should ask yourself – and answer honestly!
1. What got you into this passion in the first place?
You may have seen it and it caught your eye in a “I need to do this!” kind of manner. That’s what happened to me when I started historical swordfighting, and in spite of some bumps and obstacles along the way (I’m not very athletic, to start with), it remains a passion. Over the years, however, I’ve started some hobbies or interests mostly because a friend dragged me along. On one occasion, I took up a sport because I was trying to impress a certain guy!
Obviously, some reasons are better than others. If you’re not doing this for yourself, chances are you’ll get tired of it at some point. It’s time to let yourself off the hook.
2. Are you stuck in a learning process?
A learning curve is hardly ever smooth and even. Most of the time, we learn in leaps and bounds, and then stagnate for a while. If you find yourself getting tired of working on your new passion, check whether you’ve hit a bump and aren’t progressing much at the moment.
It can be really disheartening to do something you’re passionate about and never seemingly get any better. Just remind yourself that these phases are normal. Often it only takes a bit of perseverance to break through to the next level. See if you can get any extra help, training or instruction from an expert, and otherwise try and be patient with yourself.
3. Where do you see yourself with this passion five years from now?
The next test is your vision of the future. If you think ahead three or five years, and think of your new passion, what’s your immediate emotional reaction? Do you think it’s ridiculous to even look this far ahead with regards to it? Or do you feel a surge of excitement as you see yourself still pursuing your passion? Your reaction is a very useful gauge for how important this particular passion is to you.
All three of the above questions are useful as pointers. Neither of them gives you the complete picture on its own, but used together, your answers should provide you with a good idea.
If it turns out you were just following a whim, there’s no problem with that as long as you’ve enjoyed yourself for a while. Neither is there any shame in discontinuing. If you, however, find that you’ve stumbled upon something important for your life, then by all means stick out your low motivation and develop some discipline to pull yourself through. Chances are that some day, you’ll be glad you did.