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What to do when you lose passion for the thing you do best

  1. Connect with the beneficiaries of your passion.  The people whose lives your work transforms when you do it best. Your customers. They’ll remind you why it matters.
  2. Take a deliberate, outsized break. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and getting distance on something you’re stuck on tends to make the brain sharper. Sometimes stepping away – even when it feels like a failure – is exactly what we need to want to create again.
  3. Start something new. A lot of people confuse novelty for passion. If you find that doing something new ignites a new passion, the lesson may be that it was novelty all along that was fueling you. Sorry, but it’s better to know.
  4. Absorb the work of the masters. Whatever your field, there’s someone (or several someones) whose work dwarfs yours. This is a good thing. Soak it in. Revel in what’s possible.
  5. Write down your rationale. Don’t assume you’re totally mentally aligned on the significance of your thing. Don’t take your motivation for granted. Articulate it. Tease it out. Write down why you want to do this. Express it such that a toddler or a layman would understand why your thing seriously matters. Chances are you’ve forgotten, or weren’t sure in the first place. Doing the work of articulating your Why fixes that. 

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  1. The advice in number 3 might be a bit dangerous. I have studied a bit under Sara Young, a trainer of entrepreneurs in a specific field of business. It involves people, usually at home, alone doing work at a computer. Working in this environment is physiologically tough, so Sara has studied the physiology of it and shared what she learned with us.

    There is a lot going on with the brain chemicals associated with new tasks that makes other new tasks seem exciting. This can draw you from one venture to another, never working in one long enough to achieve success. Its’ the shiny object syndrome.

    You get a dopamine rush when you begin working towards a goal. Along the way, if it’s taking a while to achieve, your dopamine fades and is replaced with cortisol. The dopamine drives you to work and be productive. The cortisol drives you to quit. Just thinking about that new idea will give you dopamine while thinking about the one you’ve been working on for 6 months with no income will give you cortisol.

    Her simple solution is to be very careful about measuring success. If you are working on something that is not going to pay off much for a year or more, then you need something other than the pay off to measure your success today. When you achieve that small thing, and celebrate it as a success, you get a dopamine hit. That can help you to stay on target.

    Much of what we do here in Commit action actually helps with that. We have a list of tasks associated with a larger goal. We check them off as we go. We should celebrate them more though, I think. Maybe even if the app just had some little fireworks on the screen, every time we check one off and a rewarding sound. That would help.

  2. Sage advise! I’be lived it. Both re-discovering the passion for my specialty, and learning why I kept chasing bright shiny objects to distract me during the lackluster years. Informed optimism beats uninformed optimism any day of the week!

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