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One of my favorite things about being a student is getting to attend free events and scoring free food. This semester, I got to attend one free seminar, grab a bag of free food (dinner that night) and score some extra credit. It hardly gets better than that, right?

Well, maybe.

Would you like a message with that?

It was one of those talks that I would have went to anyhow, extra credit or not. Heck, I even got a free book out of it, and it was signed by the author, Richard St. John.

Turns out, he’s exactly the kind of guy I look up to. He’s doing something he obviously enjoys — giving talks to students, and probably people of all ages really. In his brief introduction, it seems he’s done so much that you wouldn’t ever think someone could do.

When I run into people who live their lives how they want and love and live it well, I’m all ears. I want to know how they did it, how they found what they loved and managed to run with it. I’m working on it myself… I know I want to work for myself, that I don’t want to be associated with a company other than my own forever. I just need all the help I can get about where to start, ya know?

It’s all about passion

In his talk, and his book, St. John zeroes in on eight traits that successful people share. That was part of the intrigue for me, that’s for sure — both the talk and book are full of quotes from well known names, plus some I haven’t heard before. And I’m talking household names, like Gates and Oprah and Jobs. (Plus some insanely successful guys with less known names, like Google co-founder Page. I love Google!! Who knew it’d be a verb in its own time.)

In his presentation, he asked if anyone had found their passion, and then who has not. Me? I’m struggling with it. I want to say that I have, but that I’m paralyzed by my fear of my passion never amounting to anything much.

You see, I have a few known passions. The easiest way to know what you’re passionate about? Ask yourself two questions (don’t ask for a definite source, I don’t have one!):

1. Would I do this for free? Would I pay to be able to do this?

2. Would I make the time to do this no matter what?

If you answer yes to any of them, it’s probably a passion for you. For me, it’s narrowed down to a few things: writing, photography, cars & racing. At the moment, I get paid to do none of it… I do it for pure enjoyment, and, in the case of racing, I pay to do it! I also make sure that I have time to indulge in these passions… Even if I have to move things around or give something up.

I know the money will, come but…

It’s always said that if you do what you love the money will come, and this wasn’t the first time I heard that. I’m still worried about it, though. I know it’ll come eventually… But what am I to do in the mean time? Especially for me, as I really don’t have the means to up and quit or to throw myself full-time into a passion.

Am I being too realistic? I don’t understand how it works… So I’m trying, slowly but surely. I’m working on my photography, and on my writing. I’m continuing to build up my cars and I’m working on my racing skills, one autocross at a time.

Then there’s my school thing, heh

I’ve also been told, many many many times that I’m too much of a perfectionist. There are tons of successful people who were average students in school, so why is it still so emphasized? And why am I stuck in the middle of all of it?

I’ve always been a great student, and I’ve achieved a 4.0 GPA multiple times in my academic career. In all semesters, but one chaotic one, have I made the Dean’s List, with one semester being on the Chancellor’s List. Am I barking up the wrong tree with my efforts…?

Now, I did ask about it. And I was told that I should try. Okay, I do try… But am I trying too hard? Is an A really worth more than a B, or am I the only one who still thinks so? I’m very torn about it all. I don’t want to just let go of school, since it’s always made me feel better… Yeah, I’m good at it, and I can point it out as something I’m good at.

But am I trying to hard for something not worth it? Is it really true that nobody honestly cares about a GPA? I really want to know…

So now what…?

While I felt great after the talk, now comes the time of implementation. Will I manage to put any of the traits into practice? I sure want to try. I want to keep striving for what I’d like to do…

Personally, I have an idea for what I want to do in my life: I want to get my CFP designation, then use it to teach classes on financial management and budgeting, to both kids, adults and families as a whole. I can also imagine myself having a few clients whose portfolios I help manage, but not too many as I would rather make a bigger impact through classes.

While I do that, I want to keep up my writing and photography when it comes to cars. Automotive journalism is that pie in the sky dream I want to chase, plus the photography thing. I would love, love, love the chance to succeed at that, and I promise I’ll work hard to do it!

Time will tell

Yes, time will tell if I’m able to implement these sorts of things into my personality. I’m hoping to do good, but it’s going to take hard work and passion for sure. (Hey, those are two of the traits!)

But I’m excited for the chance. I’ve read a lot of stories and follow some blogs written by people who did this sort of thing — gave up “traditional” sorts of lives to follow their passions and interests… And they’re my true inspiration.

Someday, somehow… I hope to be a success story like that. If my passions are right, I hope it won’t be that much of an uphill battle!

So, have you found your passions? Have an idea of what you want to be when you grow up? Have a great, inspirational story or someone who inspired you? I’d love to hear it, so please do share via comment or email!

Edit: Funny enough, Zen Habits’ Leo posted on passions today, too. Click here to read a great guide to finding your passions.