I don’t usually go public with this, but today’s my birthday. And, between my birthday and the impending end of the year, I’ve been fairly reflective the last few days. In the last 12 months, I’ve met many great people, launched a new business and worked with amazing clients. I’ve also had some setbacks and have had to say goodbye to a few people I loved. But, through everything, I’ve had more happy days than sad the last year. Which I hope is true for most people.
I suspect it’s not.
I look around and see people challenged in many different aspects of their lives. Some are unhappy in work. Others are unhappy in love. And still others are unhappy in life, generally.
Now, to be fair, many people face challenges that I can scarcely imagine. We’re sitting in the middle of the worst economy any of us will ever see (we hope). Lots of people are struggling to pay their bill or are worrying about what happens if they get sick. Some aren’t sure how they’re going to pay for their kids’ college or their retirement. Others face very real medical situations for themselves or their family. These are huge problems and ones that I don’t see any easy answers to.
At the same time, I’m excited whenever I talk with a business owner or an entrepreneur or a kid fresh out of school who looks at the world and sees opportunity. Many speak of their plans with such enthusiasm and passion and drive, that they breathe life into everyone who hears what they’ve got to say. You can’t help but get caught up in their excitement for what they’re going to do.
Sure, some won’t succeed, at least not at first. More than a few will likely adjust their plans or their goals along the way once they learn a bit more about their customers, their market, or their assumptions that weren’t quite right. But many will succeed in the long run. And not because they had a better idea or a better business plan or a better operating environment.
What will help them reach their dreams is that enthusiasm, that passion, that drive. We all get knocked down from time to time. The most successful people I know often have suffered serious setbacks or losses somewhere along the way. That’s not cliché. That’s reality. It’s the enthusiasm, the passion and the drive that helps them deal with those setbacks, that helps them overcome the challenges, that helps them get back on the horse when they fall off.
Research seems to show that smiling makes you happy, not the other way around. And I believe that your passion makes you successful, not the other way around. I have long held you should do what you love. And I’m increasingly convinced it isn’t crazy to chase your dreams.
So, today, don’t wish me a happy birthday. I’m already there.
Instead, my birthday wish is that you find whatever it is that engages your energy and prods your passion (even though that sounds a little dirty when I say it out loud). Each year goes a little faster than the one before it, so don’t waste your time worrying too much about what could go wrong. Some bad stuff will happen no matter what you do. That’s life. Just make the most of your time and do what it takes to make yourself—and the people you love—happy.
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