"Follow your passion" and all that: Chaitanya Chinchlikar

Chaitanya Chinchlikar, Vice President –Business Development, Whistling Woods International Ltd shares seven steps to be followed to pursue one's passion.


Over the past few decades, a larger & larger percentage of the world has moved from "just get a job" to "Follow your passion!”

While it sounds all warm & nice & idealistic, what nobody tells you is - How do you do it?

Firstly, in order to 'follow' your passion, you first have to 'find' your passion. Now, it is easy to equate 'liking' with passion. And that is the first & biggest mistake that people make.

Secondly, once you have found your passion, you have to 'pursue your passion'. Passion is only half-baked without some sort of heading. And it is this heading & this journey, that is much harder to locate.

So, here's 7 steps to Doing what you Love!

1. Keep an open mind

If you went into a basketball game having convinced yourself “I don't like basketball", then the game isn’t going to be appealing at all. You won’t explore its nuances, giving adequate time, attention and interest. And hence it is unlikely you’ll find it enjoyable.

The same principle applies to passion. If you convince yourself that finding your passion is hard, and it is as rare as getting hit by lightning and it is not going to happen to you, you will end up blocking out those little 'feelings', 'nudges', 'pulls' & 'signals' that keep coming at you all day. While it is NOT easy to have an 'open mind' all the time, given that our mind & its opinions are a confluence of the sum total of the encounters & experiences we have had with people and situations in our life, but that is exactly what is needed. After all, if you don't believe you CAN find your passion, how WILL you? Why would you expect fulfillment if you don’t believe it exists?

2. Keep your passion radar ON.

Once you’ve convinced yourself that your passion is discoverable, you need to start looking for evidence of what you like / love to do. You need to scan your everyday life, be more mindful of what you are feeling when you do the regular things you do, read the things you read, meet the people you meet, etc. Which are the meetings you don't mind extending the duration of? Which meetings do you find yourself yawning in? If you scan that landscape, you’ll notice that certain experiences give off a 'blip'. Those are the 'blips' that you need to delve into.

I can give you my own example. About 10 years ago, as a part of my job, I started building out an annual presentation of my industry which was an 'overview, trends & analysis' presentation. It involved crunching lots of data, building out visualisation methods and extracting trends & analysis from it. And I loved doing it. When I actually cast my metaphorical radar on that activity, I realised that it was the analysis which gave off the biggest 'blip'. And that thread is the one I decided to start following. I realised that not only did I have some ability of identifying gaps in the ever-expanding fabric of my industry, but I could also identify what will fill those gaps. Even if I was wrong about something, it didn't bog me down or affect me negatively. I used it as an opportunity to learn. This led me to believe that 'analysing the past & present' + 'filling in the gaps' would lead to 'moulding the future'. And that is a lot of what I have been doing since in my professional life, where I have been able to establish projects & activities which 'mould the future', thereby enabling my organisation to consolidate its market leadership even more. Now this was also possible because my organisation trusted me enough to let me pursue these set-in-the-future scenarios even though they may or may not have any clear immediate benefits. That too, is a factor of how well you are able to demonstrate your understanding of the subject area.

3. Find the overlap of the circles

When you look at all the blips that you experience daily / weekly / monthly / annually in your Passion Radar, they will almost definitely be in varied areas. Try and find some commonality among them. They might at first seem entirely disconnected & disparate. But trust yourself to believe that they are not. A combination of a job you love + an industry that you love could create the perfect combination which you can excel in. Start seeking and looking out for this overlap which encompasses all your 'blips'. whichever combination includes the most number of your blips, that is your First Choice of pursuing your passion.

4. Separate your passion and hobby

So, through all this exploration, you have found something that lights you up. Now you have to ask yourself the next question: Who would benefit from this? And the reason to ask this question is because ONLY if someone benefits from it, will someone spend their time & money on it, and by extension, on you.

If you want to make a career out of your passion, you need to contribute your to society and make an income from it, you need to get realistic about what you would need to do to turn it into a career. Moreover, think about if you would even enjoy doing those things. If those things turn your passion from “love to do” to “have to do", then you're probably going to stop enjoying it eventually.

5. Plan for the Rebellion

When you seek your passion, there’ll be parts of your world that go into rebellion. The first being you yourself. We all have the standard set of worries - money, success, visibility, balance, etc. They often speak in 'sensible' voices, instructing us that we must "take the safe road". Next come our nearest & dearest, who, while coming from a place of genuine concern for us, are carrying their own baggage of life experiences & reacting accordingly.

If you let these rebels win, your passion will remain out of your grasp. Instead, look for the fear beneath each supposedly reasonable voice. Unwrap the years of conditioning of parents, school teachers, partners, and colleagues, and reassure the rebels. If you don't think they are receptive, it is best to ignore them.

6. Take risks

There are 2 kind of people - the ones who believe that they should have a safety net and those who believe that a safety net stops people from giving their all because they are assured of a soft landing. You have to figure out which type of person you are. I am of the latter but then I also believe that “Leap and the net will appear”. I’ve noticed I couldn’t find the new until I’d said farewell to the old. With each step into the unknown for example, handing in notice on my salaried job at a Big 4 (used to be big 5 back then) to go into self-employment & then giving up my stake in my self-employment to go back into employment, my announcement to the universe has been - "I’m free of the past. I'm available. I’m serious about doing something new. What do you have to offer?"

I’ve been called brave, but I don’t see it that way; I’ve simply been more committed to my happiness and freedom than to staying cozy with the status quo. In one of those cases, I was pushed into it by my better half, who kept telling me how I was 'meant for bigger things'. Honestly, I did not see it back then but based purely on her confidence, decided to take the leap. Similarly, I urge all of you to find your own level & method of risk-taking. Discover what risks work for you. The path of passion is where you do things that scare you enough, without leaving you in a constant state of fear. Expand your comfort zone, rather than leaving it.

7. Be curious

The reason I have put this last is because it is the hardest thing to do. It is also the hardest to explain. I really don't know how to tell someone how to be more curious. I guess I have ADHD, so my brain needs something different to do all the time, which has led me to be an overly curious person. But try and figure out your own method to be curious all the time. Ask the 4W+1H (What, When, Where, How & the best of them - Why?) questions about everything you can to as many people you can and learn. Read everything possible & watch all kinds of content. It all helps!

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