5-Steps-To-Pursuing-Your-PassionsMy article entitled, “Pursing Passions,” came out in the Angelos Magazine. I am so excited about this piece being published because I am a strong believer in following your dreams and passions in life.  I feel so honored that I had the opportunity to share my story (and what an incredible surprise it was to find my face on the cover!)  #Grateful

5-Steps-To-Pursuing-Your-Passions-Cindy-SwainI have to admit though, during some of my failed endeavors I used to question whether I made the right choice in pursuing my passions and walking the road less traveled. Living in Italy seems glamorous, but it hasn’t always been easy (and frankly still isn’t.) There have been a lot of sacrifices along the way like living far from family and friends, overcoming a language barrier and moments of solitude, and creating a career in a new sector.  I am nowhere near “accomplished”; I have a long ways to go and a lot of improvements to make before I would consider myself “successful”. Yet, I am proud for staying true to my passions and overcoming the obstacles along the way.

In a nutshell, following my passions led me to quit my corporate job in America, travel the world, live in Italy, marry Mr. Italicano, become fluent in Italian, start the blog italicana kitchen, appear on Italian national TV, become a sommelier, have a spot in a weekly Italian radio show, write for two magazines and work with various companies to promote food, travel and healthy living. To a Nobel Prize winner, my accomplishments may seem quite insignificant. To me they represent huge milestones on my list of life goals.

A side note here, your goals are yours.

Don’t let any of your family, friends or colleagues diminish your dreams. If you want to be a cake designer, become it.  If you want to create an after-school community center for local kids, don’t wait. If you want to solve global warming, get on it. Your dreams can be personal, community-driven or aimed at a global level. There are no limits and no “stupid” goals. Remember, you only live once, so work hard to live the life that you really want.

I’ve put together a list of 5 steps that have helped me push past my fears to pursue my passions. Or, maybe I should say, are currently helping me to achieve my goals, because following your passions and achieving your goals is a continual process. Once you knock one thing of your list, it’s on to the next.

5 Steps to Pursuing your Passion 

5-Steps-To-Pursuing-Your-PassionsI didn’t quite my job overnight. First I narrowed my many passions down to three distinct goals: travel the world, live in Italy for a year and write a book. After I set these goals, I made a financial, strategy and travel plan. It took me two years to save up the money. During this time, I also found a way to live in Italy for a year. In Europe unfortunately you can only stay on a tourist visa for three months, so to get around this I applied for a student visa where I took Italian courses and in the afternoon I found a job teaching English. In the evenings and on the weekends I wrote my novel (or attempted to write my novel, but that is a whole other blog post.)

To Do:

Grab a piece of paper and a pen.  Think of your top three passions. Think of what excites you. What motivates you.  Imagine what you want to look back on your life and tell people that you did. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a drastic career change like I did. Maybe you simply want to start a new hobby, get your body in better shape or want to try an adventure sport.

From these passions, define three actionable goals. For example, your passion is traveling, so what is your goal? Do you want to visit a certain country or learn a language? Okay. Now write down these goals and post them in a spot where you’ll see the list everyday like on the fridge or bathroom mirror. Take the next month to research ways to accomplish these goals and keep adding more action items. Find a website, blog, book, video, or podcast that gives information on what you want to do.  Research someone online who is doing what you want to do and contact them to ask them for advice. You’d be surprised with how much people love to help others on like-minded journeys.

5-Steps-To-Pursuing-Your-PassionsTaking the plunge is the scariest part, even if you know it’s something you want to do. I got weak knees the week before I quit my job to leave on my around the world trip. I was scared that I was making a mistake. My doubts and fears started to creep in. Then I took action, and things weren’t as scary as they seemed. In fact, I started to have the time of my life and I was living one of passions: traveling and exploring the world.

To Do:

Now that you have your goals and plan of how to achieve them, take action.  Do one thing every day (or every week/month etc, depending on your schedule and timeline) to move you towards your goal. Don’t wait too long to take the first step, otherwise, your doubts and fears will try to dissuade you. Just remember the snowball effect. Once you get the ball rolling, it goes on its own. 

5-Steps-To-Pursuing-Your-PassionsDepending on what your goal is you may get criticism from people around you or you may just have your inner critic to deal with. Your inner critic reminds you of your fears, doubts and brings down your self worth by telling you that you aren’t good enough to achieve your goal. The inner critic tries to kill your dream. One way I’ve been able to get past my inner critic is to take action. It’s not always easy, but the more action I take towards my goal, the more my inner critic backs down.

To Do:

As soon as you hear outer or inner criticism, revert back to step #2 and take action. Don’t let criticism stop you from pursuing your passions.

5-Steps-To-Pursuing-Your-Passions

Do. Not. Compare. Yourself. This is probably the hardest thing for me as a blogger. I am constantly reading other amazing blogs and following incredibly talented people who are thriving at their work. I start to get jealous. I start to think that I can never be as good as them. I become demotivated. What is the point of even trying? I start down this spiral until I remind myself to cut it out. I don’t need to be THE best, I need to be MY best.

We are all unique. We all have worth.  Just be. Be ourselves. That is enough.  That is all we can ask of ourselves.

To Do:

When you start to compare yourself to someone, imagine a windshield collecting snow. Turn on the wipers and wipe it away. Don’t let it stick and harden to ice where it makes it difficult to remove and to see clearly. Focus on yourself and what YOU are doing. Not what others are doing. Live in the moment and appreciate the moment you are given. Be present. Embrace all of the unique qualities you have, and celebrate your flaws. No one is perfect. No one.

5-Steps-To-Pursuing-Your-PassionsPerseverance is one of the most important steps when pursuing your passions. I’ve been on the brink of giving up various times. Pursing passions isn’t easy. It’s hard as heck. Things often don’t go as planned. There are various roadblocks and obstacles along the way. But, that is when I’ve dug in deeper and found the strength to keep going. It’s like climbing a mountain, it’s hard to get to the top but when you do, oh boy, is it worth it.

To Do:

When things get tough, just know it’s part of the journey, and part of your epic story. It’s an obstacle you have to climb over, but not a dead end. Keep your moral up by reaching out to a friend or finding a mentor. Sometimes a little inspiration is all you need to keep going.

Many of the results I had wouldn’t be without the help of others. A big thanks to my parents for pushing us kids to follow our dreams, to Mr. Italicano for encouraging and supporting me on this journey, to Angelos Magazine  for sharing my story, to all my inspirational Kappa Delta sisters and last but not least, a HUGE thanks to YOU, the reader. Thank you for your continual support. Cheers to living a life filled with passion!

xoxo,

Italicana

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cindy swain NYC

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