Follow Your Bliss. Period. End of Story.

Did I just say that?
December 31, 2013
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January 15, 2014

Follow your bliss. Turn your passions into profits. Follow your heart and the money will follow. Have you heard phrases like these? What do you think? Does it make you feel excited to think about following your passion? Or do you think it’s all a bunch of new-age hype?

I’ve heard a lot lately about how following your passion is just a bunch of hooey. Yes, I said, hooey. What these nay-sayers suggest is following your passion is not a sound business approach. It takes hard work to be successful. If you are passionate about what you do, great. If not, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is putting your nose to the grind stone and getting it done.

Again, I’ll ask you. How does that make you feel? Do you believe success is hard work? Are you  nodding your head in agreement? Or do you feel slightly pinched in the throat? Well, I’m going to tell you, I feel pinched in the throat. And for the soprano from Wisconsin, that ain’t a good place to feel pinched. Yes, I just said ain’t.

From the time I was very young I knew I wanted to be a musician. I loved music. I loved everything about it. I even loved practicing, especially practicing. Believe it or not I even loved practicing scales! I spent many a Saturday afternoon at my church practicing, singing and writing songs. It was my bliss.

Then something happened….

The stakes started getting higher. I had to compete. I had to audition for roles. I had to audition for college. I had to audition for jobs. The pressure was on. And because I wanted to succeed so badly, I worked even harder. I would spend hours and hours in the practice rooms or in my apartment learning repertoire, doing arpeggios and trying to perfect my high notes.

You know what happened next…

I became a huge bundle of tightness. I developed tongue tension, neck tension, eye-ball tension! Ok, not eye-ball tension, but it sure felt like it. My technique tanked and I lost my high notes. The harder I tried, the tighter I became. So how did I fix the problem? I spent a ton of money trying not to be tight. I worked really, really hard at it. You know where it got me? Financially, physically and emotionally spent.

I was trying so hard to do what I thought was going to bring me success, I was actually cutting my talent off at the knees. I eventually got so frustrated, I decided to quit pursuing my dream of singing on the big stage. Ironically, that was probably the best career decision I ever made.

Instead of pushing, pushing, pushing, for the first time in my life I had no clear-cut direction. I had always been and wanted to be a  musician. Without playing that role, I really didn’t know who I was. I was forced to figure it out.

And  then a really great thing happened…

I started listening to my inner voice again, the voice that loved something. I didn’t know what that new something was going to be, but I knew I was sick of feeling sad and deflated. I wanted to feel joy again.  So I started looking for things that made me feel happy and excited. That’s when I found branding. They say we often choose to help others in the way we ourselves need to be helped. I needed to find my voice again.

Then the best thing happened…

Once I allowed myself to follow happiness, everything fell into place. Not only did I find a new career that makes me feel professionally fulfilled, I also found my singing voice again. I now sing with confidence and freedom. Who knows, maybe some day the Met will come calling. Hey, some dreams never die.

The moral of the story…

If you let your drive for success crowd out your bliss, you may never get there. If on the other hand if you stop choking your creativity with over-working, you might be surprised by how richly you are rewarded.

I love to hear your voice!

What do you think? Are passion, joy or happiness key elements to success?

Post your answers below in the comments or find me on Facebook.

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Heather Poduska is a brand strategist, business coach and opera singer who helps entrepreneurs and small business owners create client attractive brands, polished brand images and brand communication strategies to increase their visibility and impact in the marketplace and grow their businesses.