Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Daniel Batten: Why You Have No Choice But To Follow Your Passion

Image from awesome talk on Talent + Passion here.
I was going to write a big post today responding to Kadie's challenge post, and talk about how, because it's so easy for me to lose faith in a project, I spend far, far more time putting my passion off for another day, when I have the time/energy/inspiration required -- and how that approach is ultimately hurting my art practice.

But then I found this brilliant summary of all the things by Daniel Batten:

(Originally posted by Daniel Batten at
Have you noticed how many people there are that are doing things they don’t enjoy, saying “I’m just doing this for a short while, and then I’ll be able to…”

Sometimes this is true. But if you are still doing things you really don’t enjoy after three months of becoming conscious you don’t enjoy what you are doing, then I’d suggest you are kidding yourself.

The problem with kidding yourself is that it makes you into someone that you can’t trust. And as soon as that happens, you will also stop trusting – your ability to realize any goal – your talents – your integrity.

That’s a pretty big consequence. So how do you stop yourself from self-decepetions? That’s a good question – and one which I’ll answer,

But first, to help you root out all such self-deceptions from your life, lets look at 3 all-too common examples of how these self-deceptions manifest.
  1. An entrepreneur starts a business because she loves x, and wants freedom. Three years later, she is operating the business (which she hates), doing very little of x, and has less money and less freedom than she had as an employee.
  2. An employee says “I really don’t enjoy this job, but I’ll do it for now because it pays off my mortgage”. Twenty years later, he has switched job 7 times, got a few promotions – but still doesn’t really enjoy the work, and never feels that he has enough of a financial buffer to do what he loves.
  3. An artist takes the plunge and “does what she loves” but doesn’t earn much money from it, so carves out 30-40 hours a week to do itinerant work to support what she does until she “makes it big”. Each person is living life from the standpoint of “I will be happy when…” (I get the house/ boyfriend/ job/ IPO/ big account/ ….). But even if for example the entrepreneur does hit pay-dirt – so what? For 10 years, she has practiced putting on hold what she loves – and so this is what she’s become an expert at.
Even if this person decides to give back by becoming a business mentor – without a lot of self-enquiry, she will only be able to mentor other companies to follow the script she followed. Seek whatever you want in this life – but know that the minute you say “I will be happy when…” you have lost something precious.

Whatever you practice is what you will get better at. Practice the guitar, and you will get better at the guitar. Practice putting your dreams on ice, and you will soon be an expert at putting your dreams on ice.

The remedy is that you must follow your passion. Do you see how you really have no alternative? It is too dangerous not too. We think that we will get financial gains and progress for doing “good enough” for a time. But trying to live a life without our passion is like saying, “I’ll just drive this car for a while then I’ll put some fuel in it later.”

Without fuel, we go nowhere fast, and so we end up coming slower as well as having less fun. A lose-lose. We end up pushing a car around, huffing and puffing, rather than relaxing and letting the fuel power the car while we relax.

So if you want happiness as an “end goal” that means you need to practice being happy, and stop practicing things that make you unhappy. Put fuel in your tank by daring to do what you are passionate about, right now.
Stop it, Daniel Batten. Stop being so awesome right now.

If you want to read more from Daniel Batten, check out his site, or go read this article as it originally appeared on

Monday, September 16, 2013

Challenge #21: Passion Is A Choice

Here's the thing.  Passion is a lot like love.  At first you fall in, head over heels, you can't help but be consumed with it.  Then slowly, over time, and with every obstacle you are forced to cross during your career, the feelings that were once so strong start to diminish and fade.  Then one day you wake up and have zero desire to have anything to do with what you were once so passionate about.

That's why passion is a choice, not an emotion.

Sure the happy lovey-dovey endorphins swimming through our brains are great to kick start us on our journey, but if we rely on those emotions to carry us through our career we're in for a rude awaking.  Every artist has those days where they roll out of bed and want nothing to do with their work, and suddenly have no idea what they are doing with their life.  Things start to close in around us and feel bleak and desperate.  But we have to keep going, because passion is a choice, not an emotion.

Emotion is what tells us we'll never be good enough, strong enough, talented enough, so what's the point?  Passion on the other hand requires a choice to say, "F!*# it, I'm doing it anyway," even when we don't want to, even when its hard, and even when we would rather be anywhere else but working.

I'm not going to lie, I am a chronic project non-finisher.  I get really excited about a project, get about 60% of the way through it, and then loose steam and move on to something else.  I constantly rely on my emotions, and when they begin to wane I loose interest and quit.  I can't even begin to express the number of boxes and boxes of half finished pieces of "something" lying around my studio.

Through the years I've laughed it off as a goofy personality trait, "haha, you know me…" But as I get older I'm starting realize what a serious problem this really is in my life.  Sticking with something just until the going gets boring and then bailing out is a terrible way to live a life or conduct a career.

I don't give up on my marriage because not every single moment is as exciting as the day we met, because I know that love is a choice I have made.  I have chosen to love this person.  Some days are fantastic, and some days I want to flush the toilet while he is taking a shower… but I love him because I have chosen to.

So why do I give my art career any less commitment?  Sticking with something just until I'm bored, never lets me truly accomplish anything.  I don't want to look back on my life and see a lot of false starts and half finished projects.  I want to be able to look at my life and say, "I DID this, I DID that."  Not, "I thought about doing this, or I started doing that, but you know…"

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People writing this blog every week is hard.  Half the time I'm pretty sure nobody reads it or could care less if I ever write anything on it ever again.  But I'm still here, and I'm still plugging along because this is my passion and I am choosing to embrace it for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, wether exiting or practically boring me to death.

So this week I encourage you to ignore your emotions and keep going.  Wether you were thinking about throwing in the towel on your creative career because it just doesn't seem to be working out, or you just can't seem to find the energy or motivation to finish that project you've had sitting in the closet for a month now.  Choose passion.  Choose to live a life you can look back on and say, "That was me! I DID that!"