Streamlining Passion: How to Create Joy by Cutting Back | The BridgeMaker

Streamlining Passion: How to Create Joy by Cutting Back

By on Feb 01, 2010


Joy is the feeling of grinning inside. – Melba Colgrove

I don’t know about you, but I have a whole multitude of interests. They include writing, teaching, coaching, blogging, family time and travel. Last year I tried to do all of them. I taught English, blogged almost daily, ran a business that coached people on their Somedays and produced ebooks on the topic. I spent as much time as possible relaxing with my partner and we travelled to various places around Spain and to Canada to visit family for Christmas.

By the end of the year, I was frustrated by lack of progress in too many areas of my life. I had increased my debt and only saw more of the same. With my blog and business on the edge of expanding exponentially, I realized I had to make a decision. Was this what I really wanted? Was I doing what I really loved?

The answer was a very confusing “yes and no” which was completely unhelpful.

Helping people break through the barriers that held them back from finding happiness gave me a jolt of energy and pride every time I got an email thanking me but the business took a lot of time and required a constant reinvestment of income to keep it growing.

I got a short story published, finished the first draft of my second novel and had started my third but too often I put writing second (or third or fourth) to other demands.

Teaching English gave me some extra income but due to the part-time nature it was never consistent. I had plenty of time as well for my partner and for travelling but the constant feeling of “I should be doing something for my business or with my writing” kept me from really enjoying myself.

I had a bunch of positives and a bunch of negatives facing me and as December drew to a close the negatives reached an unbearable level.

Organizing My Life

So, I went back to basics. I swept everything off the table as it were and created two mental baskets – “Do I need it?” and “Do I love it?” into which everything in my life would get sorted (or get tossed). These two questions are the same I ask myself when clearing out the physical clutter in my life and I use the same technique to create a calm organized physical environment as well as a focused passion-filled emotional state.

Ever since I was twelve years old, I’ve wanted to be a writer so that one fit into both categories. If I don’t write I get twitchy, cranky and life seems dull and drab, making it a need and a love. Right after writing comes my partner, who I adore utterly, putting him wholly on the love side.

Next, my need for income that would not only pay my living expenses by cut down my debts came up for inspection. Not necessarily something I love, but definitely a strong need. Between continuing my business and teaching English in a more permanent situation, teaching won as a more secure income source that didn’t cost me to maintain.

Stepping back I noticed that my baskets were looking kind of full. Writing, boyfriend and near full-time teaching. So where did that leave coaching, blogging and helping people with their Somedays?

Outside of the basket. Outside of my true passions and therefore out of my life.

Avoiding Temptation

“But things were on the edge of exploding in a good way!” some people said to me but that didn’t matter to me. Once I had looked at the situation clearly and with an eye on my true passions, the decision made itself. I had already chosen and felt only excitement about the coming year with a leaner more defined focus and passion.

And the rightness of this decision proved itself when Sheri over at Serene Journey named Someday Syndrome as the number one blog to watch in 2010 and Jade from Problogger said that if it weren’t for my decision to cut back on blogging Someday Syndrome would have been included in the Problogger top blogs to watch.

Did I feel regret? Did I want to dive back into blogging and take advantage of this potential fame?

Not on your life. I only felt relief at having dodged a bullet. If this had come up before making my decision, I might have been tempted to continue with a heavy focus on Someday Syndrome, pushing either my writing or my relationship out of the need/love baskets. But it would have been false and only happening because of the opinions of others and not because I honestly felt most passionate about my coaching and blogging.

Measuring Results

A month into my new focus on life and I’ve never been happier. My writing has leapt forward and I’m calling 2010 the year I go professional as a fiction writer (whether or not I get a book deal, I’m considering my profession as “author”). I’ve taken on more teaching hours and end the day full of energy and excitement to get up and start the next day.

Why? Because I’m doing what I love most. Yes, I have more interests and more passions that my schedule may allow for, but I don’t regret the new focused turn in my life. I nearly have the life I considered I pictured as perfect when I was a child and there are very few people who can look back at their childhood dreams and say they’re living them.

And that’s all the proof I need.

Alex Fayle, of Someday Syndrome, is a former procrastinator who uses his visionary ability to uncover hidden patterns and help you break the procrastination obstacle so that you can finally find freedom and start living the life you desire. Learn more about how you can start loving life again at

  • Wow, Alex, I love this!

    Your article particularly resonated with me because my blog is called “Following Your Joy.” And I have found that “joy” really is simple–it’s not about getting caught-up in the busy-ness of life or having a bunch of ‘things’ going on. It’s about stripping away the extras and focusing on what’s really, really important.

    Kudos to you for having the courage to do what you love most. Awesome!

    Rock on, and continued best wishes to you!


  • Thanks Walter! Building up to the decision was difficult, but in the it just made sense.

  • Thanks Steven! It’s amazing how my happiness has increased exponentially by changing my focus just in this one way.