Sometimes Big Ideas are hard to come by. The world is filled with the notion that our “passion” lies somewhere deep inside, just waiting to jump out and become a reality. And in many cases people believe that “someday” that feat will happen. So they sit around waiting for the day … which of course rarely happens.
When I talk to people that really want a change in their lives, and have spent some time thinking about what their “passions” could be, I usually hear one of two things.
1. I have so many ideas, likes and interests, how do I know which one I should pursue?
2. I have no idea what my big idea could be; I don’t have the time to think about it. All I have is work and family and day-to-day activities in my life; I have no idea what I’m passionate about.
See yourself in one of these statements?
You know you want a change; you want something different from this point forward. You no longer want a “job”, you want to start up a business and try your skills at something new. You yearn for the lifestyle that allows you to earn money outside of the normal 9 to 5 job mentality. Yet finding it is a huge, monumental task that you simply don’t know if you’re up for.
You may have discontent with where you are at the moment. You know there has to be something more to who you are and what you do. You just don’t know how to figure it all out. And if you do, there’s somewhat of a finality to it. Can you really come up with the perfect solution right now, so that you can live in pure happiness from this point forward?
Not likely. And that’s where restlessness really comes into play.
When people talk about pursuing passion, they make is seem like such a simple thing to do. Like you can walk outside and get hit over the head with a passion mallet, instilling a world of knowledge into your brain that shows you the one true path you should follow from this point forward. We know in our hearts that its not that easy, but believing it is another story. When you read bio after bio from successful people that found their true calling and followed the path to success, it’s hard to push aside the guilt of not understanding how to find it yourself.
But what people that have already found success – found their true calling – have discovered is that Big Ideas rarely come in lightning bolt fashion.
Passion comes from following a simple path that makes something you like and enjoy a little bit easier/faster/tastier/more productive/more understandable/more enjoyable than it was before.
In other words, your Big Idea rarely comes as a lightning bolt moment; instead it comes from combining something you love and are already living, with a twist of a new idea to make it your own. That and action to move you forward can do wonders to build the life of your dreams.
If you are having trouble quantifying what your Big Idea looks like, it has a better chance of being “found” in one of three ways.
1. Something you love
This is the easiest of the three, because you have an intimate connection with something you love. You spend time with it. You attend classes around it. You join groups based around the concept. You subscribe to newsletters and magazines. You do it because it makes a difference in your life, and you would do it with or without money being involved.
If you have multiple loves, do a little research to see which one has the biggest potential. You can also look inside yourself to discover which one you enjoy more, and which one would cause you to feel happier about each new day.
2. Something you dislike, have problems with, or are frustrated with on a regular basis
A lot of businesses are started when they discover only half of the issue is represented. To see examples of this, enter a toy store some time. Pink and purple Legos were created, for example, when little girls wanted to build but weren’t comfortable with toys depicting boys only on the marketing. They didn’t want to build guns and warships; they wanted to build a house and an amusement park. Someone saw the need; a Big Idea happened, and the rest as they say is history.
Just by looking at a product, you can probably see its roots in other ways. Look at a few products on your next shopping trip and see it from the Big Idea approach. Can you tell what spin the company put on an older product in order to make this new product a reality? Once you start looking at your shopping excursion in this manner, it can be a fascinating experiment.
If you find yourself frustrated about something on a regular basis, that’s usually an indication of a need in the marketplace, and an indication that what frustrates you may be frustrating others as well. If you can get behind the concept and see it as something you’ll enjoy well into the future, your Big Idea may be born.
3. Something you find on the journey
One of my favorite stories about Steve Jobs comes from his college days. When he was a lost and confused youth trying to figure out why he was at college and what he should do with his life, he wound up sitting in a calligraphy class. He found the preciseness of the characters fascinating. He didn’t have a purpose for being in that class. He didn’t have a reason for taking it – it wasn’t a requirement for his major. He just took it because it looked interesting. It was only years later did that course come into play when he was designing the way the fonts and graphics would be laid out in his programming and final product presentations. It wasn’t a physical act (the class) that gave him an immediate Big Idea, it was through the journey that things came together and pointed towards a new direction.
You’ll never find your passion, your Big Idea, or what you would like to do from this point forward if you only do what you’ve always done in the past. Passions are often found by being open minded and exposing yourself to as many opportunities and new ideas as you possibly can. That’s why mentors and coaches consistently tell you to read, travel, take new classes, and expose yourself to new things. They know that life is a journey, and somewhere along the path you just might find something that motivates you in a big way.
Which brings me to a journey that I hope you’ll find as inspirational as I have.
A couple of years ago, I got the concept of Gap Year in my head. And once it entered my mind, research took on a life of its own. I searched through Google in many different ways, finding sites that helped me plan, and discovering people that inspired me to do things way outside of the box.
One of those people is Chris Guillebeau. Chris “fell” into his Big Idea by chance. He always loved traveling, and at one point decided to set a goal to travel to every country in the world. So his journey began. He spent many hours planning those trips, and carefully selected which countries to tour every single year. He started blogging about it, which escalated into a book. People began noticing, and his Big Idea took the form of a very successful business.
When I find new sites in my research, I immediately determine whether it has value or not. If it doesn’t, I back out and move on to the next site. If it does, I connect them into my RSS feed reader so I can follow their content, and I start investing in some of their products/services to learn all I can. I immediately got Chris’s first two books, The Art Of Nonconformity and The $100 Startup, and have read pieces of them again and again. I joined his Travel Hacking program for a few months to learn all I could about finding great deals in the travel world. Now that we’re here in Portland for a year, I noticed a couple of weeks ago that Chris’s new book is out – The Happiness Of Pursuit – and he was scheduled to be at a book signing at Powell’s this past Sunday night. So off we went to #findthequest and meet other like-minded people in the process.
This event added structure to my plans. I listened and learned about many things that night, all of which will help me in the coming months as I expand and focus my business. It introduced me to some amazing people that see the world in a similar fashion. It also allowed me to introduce my daughter to a new frame of mind – she’s been so focused on college and career, I didn’t want her forgetting its okay to develop your own trail even if you are going down a more standardized path.
This is just one example of how easy it is to find likeminded people. And to introduce you to your “a-ha” moment that just may lead you to your Big Idea.
Your Big Idea won’t “happen” with you doing the same old routine. Every day you can find new things both online and in your local community that will give you the chance to see things in a different way.
You never know when you’ll be sitting somewhere, learning something new when the light bulb goes off and you say, “this is what I’m meant to do.”