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May 7, 2013 / mike54martin

Life’s Too Short: Follow Your Passion


Martha Beck wrote a great book a few years ago that I often recommend to people who are unsure about their next (or even their first) career move. That book is called “Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live”. The ‘North Star’ she is talking about is something that is pulling at you, pulling you in its direction. And if you really listen it will tell you where to go. It is what you were supposed to be doing all along. The reason that I find this book useful is that it lays out a plan to get there from here. The main way it does that is by getting people to focus on themselves first; on their hopes and dreams, on what they would like to do and not on what others would like them to do.

Martha Beck believes that every one of us has a core personality that encompasses one’s desires, emotions and preferences. But that core is sometimes, maybe even often, blocked by a social self that responds to external influences and cultivates survival skills. So when we are young we may have dreams of becoming a writer but because of pressure from our parents or friends we go into engineering. We are actually quite successful at being an engineer but it does not make us happy.
The place to start from is always you.

When I counsel job seekers I always tell them to follow their passion, whatever that might be. The first step is to develop their own vision. What would they like to do, what do they really care about? If you are going to work in a career, why not work in one that you actually think might make you happy. You are going to spend more time at work than anywhere else for the rest of your life until retirement, why not enjoy it?

Once you have the vision you can make a plan. You may not be able or even willing to give up your engineer’s salary and the lifestyle that has made possible right away. But you can ease towards that writing career. Implement your plan slowly, maybe even over a number of years. Keep your salary and assets as secure as you can for as long as you can. Then when you are ready you can make the jump.
What are you waiting for? Your passion and your new career may be just around the corner, already waiting for you.

This post first appeared on my blog at

Mike Martin is a freelance writer and the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People.

He is also the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series. The latest book is The Body on the T.


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  1. Luke Roland (@lukeroland) / May 13 2013 9:37 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing. This is great practical wisdom that can be quickly put into practice!


  1. Follow Your Passion | Change the Things You Can

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