Thursday, May 17, 2012

Find Your Passion and Live Your Dream

By Andrew McGunagle

My Dad is a math whiz. He is the guy who gives you the answer to a math problem while you are still trying to arrange all of the numbers in your head. With his talents, he could have been wildly successful as an accountant or a financial analyst. However, he didn't want to be stuck behind a desk all day. Instead, he wanted to do something that he loved, which was woodworking. For my Dad, a fat paycheck was secondary to having a job that is engaging.

Growing up and seeing his example, I always believed that a person's career and a person's passion were one in the same. While I have since realized that this is not universally true, I am continually guided by the conviction that a person should love their work. In my mind, once a person finds their true passion, they should dedicate their life to it without hesitation.

Find it.
Now and again, I am struck with the realities that deter individuals from finding and doing what they love. The first thing I recognize is that not everyone has discovered their passion. While I wish I could put this process into words, I simply cannot. I don't know why I love strength and conditioning, why my Dad loves to build furniture, or why my brother loves entrepreneurship. I know passion when I see it, but I don't know how to unearth it.

The second thing I realize is that many people are afraid that they would not be successful following their passion. I believe this fear is simply a mental hurdle that is encountered by everyone early in the process of discovering their passion. The size of this obstacle varies depending on what the individual's passion is for and how strong their passion is at that point. For the individuals that are stuck in front of this hurdle, I offer the following two points. In my experience, these two elements separate the idle dreamers from the people who are currently, or well on their way to, living their dream.     

1. Obsess Over It: For the past six years, I have been absolutely obsessed with learning about and practicing strength and conditioning. In this time, I have read many books and countless articles, watched thousands of lifting videos, and talked with a number of people about strength and conditioning. More importantly, I have spent many of my days in the gym training both myself and others. Additionally, I have spent the majority of my waking hours simply thinking about strength and conditioning and other related topics. There are nights when this thinking about strength and conditioning extends my waking hours, and I lie in bed turning various ideas over in my mind.

Sure, this behavior is obsessive, but I don't believe it is excessive. I have encountered many fitness professionals who are doing very well for themselves, yet I can tell they have not spent the same amount of time building their mental model of the training process that I have. Given the time that I have dedicated to mastering my craft, I know that I will be successful in my field. I understand that sounds arrogant, but I truly believe that I have done, and will continue to do, the work it takes to be a success.

Now, I am not telling you this to make myself feel good. I am sharing my story because I believe it demonstrates the dedication that pursuing your passion demands. If you know what your passion is, then quit lollygagging and get to work. The effectiveness of obsession is, in my opinion, best encapsulated by the following quote:
"The world has a way of making room for the man who knows exactly what he wants."
2. Become Emotional Invested: While my passion is strength and conditioning, my older brother's passion is entrepreneurship. Over the past few years, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching his love for entrepreneurship develop and I have admired all of the work he has done to improve his entrepreneurial knowledge and skills. During the past few months, my brother has been working towards winning a business development competition that would allow him to obtain some funding for one of his projects. This would enable him and his business partner to work on their idea throughout the summer, and it would help them get that much closer to having a product they could sell. Unfortunately, last week my brother was informed that his project was not one of the ideas that would receive funding. This hit my brother hard, as he had invested so much time and effort in his proposal. In the days following his rejection, my brother was visibly depressed.

While some people may view that sort of sulking negatively, I saw it as a sure sign that my brother is going to be an incredibly successful entrepreneur in the future. The more an individual cares about something, the harder it is for them to accept failure. The harder it is for a person to accept failure, the harder they are going to work to be successful. I cannot imagine dedicating my life to something that wouldn't cause me to experience emotional pain if I failed at it. If you could spend twenty years doing something, and then simply shrug off a catastrophe, then you might as well shrug off your life. While I am not advocating getting all emotional over every bump in the road, I am telling you to find something that you love so much it could hurt you.

Everyone gets just one shot at life (as far as we know). Nearly everyone has to figure out how they are going to make enough money to support themselves and, in most cases, their family. Not enough people, it seems, have found their passion and are, or are working towards, living their dream. If this article sets just one person on the path towards living the life they want to live, then it has done its job. Now, go and find your passion and make it your job.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Very powerful article. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone who reads this will be moved in one way or another. Amazing read

  2. Thank you! I really appreciate that.