The Limits You Choose

A few days ago, Kenia left a very interesting comment on my earlier post What You Are – and What You’re Not:

Great post, Trent. Very inspiring. I have to disagree slightly though…

“There’s still nothing keeping you from having a life filled with doing the things you love. Focus instead on who you are, what skills you can build, and what you can do.”

I agree with you, 100%, that you can definitely involve yourself in some other way (i.e. sports blogger) even if some goals are unrealistic for you (i.e. be an NBA player). But there can still be things keeping you from what you love. There can still be things keeping you from becoming an avid basketball blogger: Family. Responsibilities. I am a firm believer that you don’t necessarily have to be rich to succeed in life: with enough **time** and commitment you can succeed at almost anything…but the key is to have the *time.* Many people, for example, would have to take extra time on top of their day jobs to make a career transition – but with family obligations, and making sure you are prioritizing time nurturing relationships that matter (family, great friends), this is just not possible for most. Lucky is the person who (if in a loving relationship that you’re not about to compromise for a career) has a partner who fully supports them in their pursuits & passions – because it takes time, and that time is usually time taken from the relationship.

In late 2006, I had a full time job that often bled into more than full time work. I had a marriage that required time and attention and love. I also had an infant son that required time and attention and love.

It was in that situation that I launched and built up The Simple Dollar. I did it without sacrificing my work, without damaging my marriage, and without disrupting my relationship with my son.

How did I do that? I made some fundamental decisions about how I was going to spend my time and energy. Instead of staying up late websurfing or watching television, I researched articles or focused on my writing. Whenever I had an evening where my wife was at a conference or something like that, I chose to spend that time building the site. If I was the first one awake in our home, I would spend some time writing until everyone else woke up.

When my wife became pregnant with our second child, I found myself with a great deal of time to write. Our oldest child would sleep eleven or so hours a night and her sleep cycles matched the baby’s sleep. That left me with four or five hours a day without family members around, so I devoted that largely to building my side business.

In short, building The Simple Dollar became my main hobby. Not only did I want it to be a success, I deeply enjoyed the work. It was fun for me to write a great article (and it still is). It was fun for me to learn all about search engine optimization, site design, and other such things.

I’m not stating that my experience is a model for starting any side business. What I am saying is that passion is your driver.

Simply put, if you don’t have the passion for something that will convince you to spend your hour or two of evening free time chasing that dream, then it’s most likely never going to happen.

Many people have passions like this, but they’re told over and over again that they “can’t” do it, either directly or indirectly. I spent most of the previous decade (1996 through 2006) believing that I “couldn’t” be a writer. It shaped my college choice. It shaped my major choice. It shaped my job selection after college.

Through all of that, though, I didn’t abandon the dream. Writing is what I’ve been passionate about since I was a school boy, writing short stories in my Ninja Turtles notebook in fourth grade. I kept writing in my spare time, attempting to sell novels and short stories, starting blogs of various kinds, and so on.

None of them were successful. I kept writing.

The Simple Dollar was my first real glimmer of success and when I saw that, I gave it everything I had. Opportunities like this don’t come along too often.

It was the passion for writing that made me reach that point, and it was that passion that carried it through.

There are always limits. There are always easier things to do. There are always people telling you you can’t do things. There are always overstuffed schedules and a seeming lack of free time.

If you are truly drawn to doing something, though, you’ll find time and energy for it. You’ll cut back on other things to make time and energy for it.

Eventually, you’ll succeed. Why? The one thing that can’t be manufactured is passion. It makes you better and it makes you strive for something great. Passion is real, and it’s something people are always looking for. You just have to find your way in the door.

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