What do you call a person who relentlessly follows their passions and achieves all their goals?
The internet is full of Guru’s telling us that when we are not achieving our goals and living our passion then all we need to do is refocus, set more attainable goals and remain committed to the end. Whilst this may be true for some people it certainly cannot be true for all of us, all of the time.
Sometimes life gets in the way.
I was thirteen years old when I first I dreamt of working in professional sport. I went to Durham University to do a sports related degree and when I graduated I took up a full time role at Saracens RFC. When a role with the architects of British Sporting success (Youth Sports Trust) came up I jumped at the chance to work on the London Olympic Legacy. I was following my passion, my life was set out before me and I was very happy.
Then my husband asked me to move to South Africa and my passion became my problem.
My sporting passion is about participation, experience and transition (life after Sport). In South Africa professional sport is about results, results and results- they believe(d) on field success to the only answer to increasing numbers both into the sport and through the gates. When I questioned professional sporting clubs and governmental bodies whether there could be another way, the answer was always the same: In South Africa things are different.
Maybe they are (they aren’t) and maybe they are not (they aren’t, but at least I am over it).
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I knew my passion. I just needed a different approach.
I started with a few small sporting projects, volunteering at sports organizations and consulting to government bodies. Individually they were successful but it was hard work to convince people of the enduring need of such work. After a series of set-backs I started to suffer a loss in my own identity, which had been inextricably linked to my passion and my career. I lost confidence, lost my voice and I became resentful.
In the context where my life had dramatically changed and my passions where contradictory to national attitudes, the concept of pursuing the same passion or goals now seems frankly ridiculous.
My passion was making me unhappy and stopping me from seeing the real joy around me. It took me a few years to figure this out because we in the West are told from a very young age that we just have to follow our dreams/ goals/ passions to reach "success".
The answer for me is quite simple most of the time. If following your passion is making you and the people around you happy then brilliant. If you had a passion before moving abroad, or for whatever reason, following your passion isn't working out - or you actually have no idea what your passion is, then maybe its time to understand your principles, (or values). Trying to imagine the broader picture of the life you would like in 5 - 10 years time.
Focus on your principles
not solely on your passions.
I want to enjoy and be challenged by my work, but still spend quality time with my family. I want to see more of my real friends and make new ones. I would like to make a positive change to a few people’s lives but not necessarily change the world on my own. I would like to be healthy and eat well. I would like to travel and be comfortable.
They aren’t sexy or worthy of celebrity but they have helped me establish a broad platform for the decisions I make. Furthermore my principles, and not fixed goals or targets, now shape my daily and weekly routine, which has led to a much more balanced and stress – free approach to life. There is no more having to succeed at all cost, as I am now truly aware of the cost. I and only I have control of my principles whereas goals are often as not reliant on a myriad of external factors.
Lastly, my identity is now based on who I am and what matters to me and not what I have achieved or trying to achieve.
What are your principles? Have you identified them? How could refocusing change your life for the better?
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