When Passion Ruins Your Life

Filed in Balance, Family, Health, Relationships, Uncategorized by on February 1, 2013 29 Comments

Life BalanceWhat are you passionate about?

Maybe you’ve just started a new business initiative, and you’re fired up about it.

Or perhaps you’re an avid blogger or crafter or gym rat, and you invest numerous hours into perfecting your craft.

But have you ever considered that maybe your passion is ruining your life?

Let me explain:

The other night, as I sat hunched over my computer, my face wrought with fatigue from too many late nights blogging into the wee hours of the morning, my husband begged me:

“Please come to bed! I just want you in my bed!”

I scowled at him, upset over his apparent “selfish” demands for attention when I clearly had important things to do. Didn’t he see I was busy?

I spat, “I’m not blogging right now, I’m paying bills! If you want the mortgage paid, you need to let me get this done!”

(Well, I mean, I was going to be blogging afterwards…..and probably really late into the evening….so he wasn’t too far off).

But this wasn’t about money or bills. And it wasn’t even about blogging.

The real crux of the matter was that I have become so consumed with my passion for my blog and my creative outlet that my life has become unbalanced. My passion has turned into a slight obsession and has begun to interfere with relationships with the most important people that I love: my family.

And don’t get me started on the chronic sleep deprivation from only getting 4-hour “cat naps” each night…..

The fact is, passion is beginning to ruin my life.

 

But Isn’t Passion a GOOD Thing?

Definitely.

But first, let me just say that if you have found your passions in life, you are so blessed. Passion is life’s blood.

There are so many people in this world that get up each morning and drudge through the weary monotony of their day….only to come home and plop down in front of the TV or computer and waste the evening away with hours of reality non-sense or pointless Facebook statuses….only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.

They may be afraid to embrace their passion. They may not have even discovered their passion. Some may be facing serious problems or concerns in life and their passion has taken a nose-dive.

Or, maybe they’re just too lazy or busy to actively pursuit it.

Who knows.

But those people feel empty because their life’s passion is so elusive.

And then there are people like me…

You know the ones: we wake up each morning and can’t wait to get the day started, because there’s so much to see….so much to do….so much life to experience….and we can’t wait to further explore our passions, because, after all, we live it and we breathe it.

(We’re actually pretty annoying sometimes, right?)

But some of us—just like me—start letting this passion consume our life.

It’s obsessive.

We become so enveloped in our passion and goal-chasing, project-completions, or never-ending “To Do” lists objectives that we start to struggle with balancing this passion with all the other important compartments of our life–family, marriage, health, and friends.

We stay up like vampires while the world sleeps and plug away at our craft, until our heads ache.

We think incessantly about how to get to the next level. At 3 a.m. we’re wired, and early anticipating the sunrise so we can get crackin’ again.

We cut off friends and family because they don’t share the same vision that we do. We don’t like their criticism. We say they’re not supportive.

We shun quality time with our significant others and children for the sake of productivity.

In short, we’ve become obsessed.

And although passion is indeed a very good thing, clearly it’s possible to become much too consumed–to the point that our relationships and health become sickly.

And the reality is that in all this glory of passion, we’re suffering, too.

We just don’t know it.

WORK RELAX

WHY Do We Become Unbalanced, Anyway?

I’ll agree that when you’re starting a new venture–be it a new business, a new blog, or even a new healthy eating program, there’s a certain amount of focus and dedication necessary to get you to the next level. It involves a great deal of sacrifice of time, energy, mental power, and sometimes money. But at what point does it become “too much”? And why did it get that way? Here are a few reasons why:

  1. It feels GOOD! We gravitate towards things that feel good. Passion feels good. It gives our life purpose, and who doesn’t like to live a purposeful life? Our soul craves it. We want more. And more….
  2. We lack structure. We fail to set clear boundaries and our passion begins to tromp all else.
  3. We are afraid to relax. If we relax, we fear that we’ll lose our momentum.
  4. Selfishness. Sometimes we feel entitled. How dare someone or something prevent us from doing what makes us happy?
  5. Desire for perfection. Nothing is perfect. We know that. But it doesn’t stop us from wasting our time for the pursuit of perfection.

So HOW Do We Fix It?

Clearly, I don’t have all the answers; if I did, my life would be perfect, right? But I’m suffering, just like you: torn between my passion and all the areas of my life that need me to be alert and ever present.  However, here are some things that I am going to do to try to put my life back into perspective, while hopefully still being able to thrive in my passion:

  1. Keep life in perspective. As morbid as this sounds, one day I am going to die. So will you. And when you’re on your death bed, what will matter the most are the family and friends you love, and that love you, too. You’ll wish you had more time with them. You may even regret the time that you gave up with them to pursue something that once seemed so important but now seems trivial. Make today count. Lighten up and don’t exclude the people that matter the most.
  2. Create a schedule. Pencil in your passion. Allot all the time you’ll need. Give yourself ample time to feel satisfied. Try using a timer.
  3. Get disciplined. When it’s time to stop, then stop. Regroup and refocus.
  4. Drop the attitude. Your loved ones are not necessarily attacking you or your passion. They’re trying to make you understand that it’s okay to lighten up, or genuinely may not understand. Drop the attitude.
  5. Get some help.  It’s okay to say you need help. Maybe get your hands on a copy of How to Balance Your Life when you need more tips on balancing work/life.
  6. Embrace imperfections. Life isn’t perfect, so stop trying to make it so. Embrace the imperfections.

Do you have any additional suggestions?

POLL:

Have you ever been obsessed with something?

Did it start to ruin your life?

 

If you’ve liked this post, please take a moment to leave a comment.. Let me know what you think of this article. I value and respond to all comments. When you respond, it let’s me know I’m not talking to a black hole. 😉 THANKS!

 

Photos courtesy of Free Digital Photos

 

About the Author ()

I'm a mom to 3 young boys, ages 6, 3, and 1. Managing a household of 5 people makes life complicated. Get Your Life Straight is a blog for people like you and me who know that it's time to get our life back on track--from eating right, exercising more, budgeting, losing those last 15 pounds, and spending more quality time with family. Join me in the quest to get your life straight.

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  1. Heather says:

    I can definitely relate! Blogging has become an obession to me! I find myself procrastinating on my homework because blog posts are much easier (and more fun!) to write than papers for school. I also want to do everything and see everything, but I want to give it all 100%. It can really wear me down-I put a lot of pressure on myself! I’ve found that balance and scheduling really help! I think I’d rather have passion consume my life than not be passionate about anything at all!

    • Wow, Heather, another passion-obsessed blogger! LOL WELCOME!

      I will sit down to work on a project or a blog post and I.CAN’T.STOP.UNTIL.ITS DONE. Doesn’t matter if it’s 1 a.m. or 3 a.m. IT WILL GET DONE. That’s obsession!

      The point you made about having passion consume your life rather than not being passionate about anything at all really hits home. Life gets depressing when you have nothing to stir that fire inside of you. But the scheduling is sooo important. I’m glad it works for you! I have struggled with it, but am going to start making a daily schedule, with time slots down to the hour. I’ll let you know how it works for me!

  2. Holly W says:

    Ah… yup, just like I thought it would, this article 100% hits home. I have been blogging for a little over a year. I have also been married for a little over a year. We have had our biggest arguments in the time since we’ve been married. Direct correlation? Absolutely. I struggle because I am SO insanely passionate about what I do (motivating, helping others, creating healthy recipes, writing, etc etc), and I used to have zero passion. When my partner and I first met, both of us were so needy and dependent on each other. I had low self-esteem, and I was very sick with emotional and eating-disorder issues. My partner also had (has?) her own issues as well. Ever since I’ve gotten healthy and found my passion though, it’s like I’ve bloomed into this new being. I don’t depend on her nearly as much. I am much happier and motivated to do something with my life. The problem is that my partner isn’t quite there (or at all). She doesn’t have a passion like I do. She loves to watch tv and movies. Which is fine to an extent… I just can’t sit there and watch a show cause I feel like I could be doing something better that pertains to my passions. Sorry, this is getting long-winded. Over the year+, I guess things have gotten better. I have started coming to bed at a normal time, although I wake up at 4am to work on blog stuff. Plus I have Saturdays while she’s at work, that I have dedicated to my developing my passions. It’s not easy. And I truly don’t know how to find the balance. It’s been a major struggle for me. I feel like I’m half-assing everything I do in my life. In my marriage, parenting, working out, blogging, my job… it’s all just half-assed so that I can cover it all. This isn’t how it should be. So I guess to sum it up… yes, my passion has ruined my life to an extent, but it has also been the greatest gift I’ve been given, and I don’t know what I would do if it was taken away from me (it’s been a couple close calls…). Great post. I thoroughly enjoyed it and obviously related.

    • Holly, Holly, Holly!!! I could have written that COMMENT! You are spot on! I think another facet of this situation is when one person is passionate and the other person (spouse, friend, relative, etc) is not.

      The same thing happens in my marriage, too. Not to put hubby all out there (sorry, K, but it’s the nature of my passion, lol), it’s the same way in the evenings: he’s okay with watching TV or a movie, and to me, that’s the biggest waste of time in the evening! I have to be doing something productive; something that feeds my passion. And I have no passion for TV. This causes huge rifts in a relationship when one person has a passion, and the other doesn’t.

      And I LOVED your piece: “my passion has ruined my life to an extent, but it has also been the greatest gift I’ve been given.”

      Amen to THAT!!!

  3. Marcus Parker says:

    Hey Serena

    Here is are some thoughts for your consideration.

    I submit that one should create a Goals List for 2013.
    The goals list should not be a list that was generated quickly and without much thought.

    The goals list should be somthing that is meditated on and refined to ensure it is wholistic and incorporates short term and long term goals for the year. The list should include things that your passionate about (i.e blogging & thift diving) and things that ensure you remain balanced.

    Here are some dimensions to think about when creating a sustainable goals list.

    1. Family
    2. Sprituality
    3. Health
    4. Money
    5. Career: Title
    6. Career: Power
    7. Hobby or Passion

    Here is a sample goal for 2013:

    Goal 1(Passion). Reduce my golf score from 98 to 88 for AUG 2013 Golf Tournament.
    I will take professional lessons from May to July with a budget of $350. I will also play 18 holes atleast once a month. I will also play 9 holes in an after work golf tournament once a week starting in May.

    Notice the goal is Specific, Measurable, Achievable,Realistic,Timely (SMART).

    To implement this goal I must incorporate my wife to ensure this goal is inline with our family goals, etc.

    Once my personal goals are refined and in harmony with my families goals for the year then I will publish the list on hard stock paper, put the list in a frame, and displayed where it will be seen daily.

    The Rule of Thumbs is to spend 2hrs a day working on your goals. By displayig your goals creates a Win-Win-Win scenario. Win-for your family b/c they can help you achieve them, Win-for you b/c you have a daily reminder of all your goals on a daily basis, Win-you can prioritize your goals and achieve them in balanced approach.

    MParker….my first blog response….so excuse format and typos spelling errors!

    • Marcus, if I’ve never said it, I will say it now, in a public forum: I LOVE YOU! 🙂 That’s why we’re friends, because you always have sound advice.

      I can’t tell you how much I love this response because

      1) it’s S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achieveable, realistic, and timely).

      2) It gets your family on the same page. The family knowing up front what your goal is let’s them add in their input and gets their BUY IN from the beginning.

      3) Framing them, and maybe putting them up at your desk, is GENIOUS. What a way to remind yourself of the goal, day-in and day-out.

      THANK YOU! And please feel free to comment more often. You’ve got great advice!

  4. Jody Cowan says:

    This is my life to a T! My husband said just the other day, “why don’t you set certain times to work on your blog”. And I got half mad and said I can’t do that, there’s just too much to do. There is no stopping point. At night I finally just have to force myself to shut down and close my computer.
    I really do need to figure out how to let go and just relax and spend more time with my family.

    Thanks for writing this! Makes me think more about it!

    • You’ve said it perfectly: NO STOPPING POINT! Well, lately, 3 a.m. has been my stopping point, which is ridiculous. LOL. But yeah, beyond that, there’s no stopping point. Marcus, the other commenter before you, had some reeeealllly good tips, if you haven’t seen them. Come back and read what he wrote. I think I am going to utilize those tips!!
      Thanks for your comment!

  5. Nikki says:

    This was my for a while, then I had to force myself to take time off every day and a whole afternoon off every weekend. I earn my living through my blog and the writing I do for others, so I feel like since I’m home, I should be working. It’s hard to step back and give myself a break.

    • Nikki, I think working from home definitely poses a challenge because there’s no clear border around being “at work” (as in an office) versus being “at home.” My hubby works from home, and although the nature of his job makes him work outside a normal work schedule, he’s still ALWAYS available for work issues, even when he really doesn’t have to be. It sounds like, though, you’ve really figured out how to turn it off at times. Good for you! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  6. J. Money says:

    YUP! Always obsessed about something over here – currently it’s with coin collecting 🙂 And money making through building sites (though it helps that it’s now my “real” job so I don’t have to feel bad doing it! haha…)

    But you’re totally right – you have to have balance as it’s never good being extreme on one side or the other. With time we learn how we work better though and constantly adjust, so it’s all good!

    Great post my friend.

    • Wait, your “real” job? Did you get a “9-to-5” we don’t know about??

      And coin collecting is always a hot trend. Hubby does, too, and he likes to pull them out and show our 3 sons, “Look what’s going to be yours some day.” Love that!

      • J. Money says:

        haha I just told my wife I was gonna pass some down to my boy 🙂 that’s pretty funny…

        no no didn’t get a 9-5 or anything, just meant I’m allowed to work on all this stuff because it’s my full-time job w/ my blogs/etc 🙂 So I don’t get in trouble much for working hardcore cuz it’s all a part of the game… except for when I stop paying attention to people in my family!

  7. Allen Maddox says:

    Yup, I get like this, too. My wife keeps me in line and I have learned that other people don’t necessarily want to hear everything I’m “working” on. I haven’t gotten around to allocating specific time to my passion. I need to work on that this year.
    Great article. Thanks for posting it.

  8. You’ve articulated what I’ve been thinking lately – I’ve always wanted to be a writer, my whole life. Now I’ve devoted time, energy, and attention to my dream and things are finally clicking – it’s happening! But I know it takes attention away from my family, and until I strike a balance, I know I won’t truly feel good about writing. Thanks for the perspective. 🙂

    • But what feels better–writing or not writing? I bet WRITING does! And like Marcus said above, if you’ve got your family on board, and they understand and know your goals and support you, then you can feel even better about devoting so much time to it.

      Interesting idea that just came for me–I wonder if we women are more likely to feel “bad” about the time we spend on our passions? Do we feel more guilty than men do? Women are the leaders of the house (sorry, men, but it’s true!) And we usually have tons of other responsibilites than the men do. Is it harder for US women than it is for men?

      Hmmm…..What do you guys think?

  9. Scott says:

    Is it okay to give up on your passions? I tend to have a terrible (and sometimes expensive) habit of going whole hog into something (blacksmithing, woodworking, crochet {yes, men can and do crochet!}, model cars, etc.) and then just reach a point where I burn out, sell it off and find a new passion. My basement is clogged with half finished projects, items that need “just one more coat of paint” and assorted junk that holds some sort of promise sometime in the future. It’s gotten to the point where I’m just getting rid of anything that I am passionate about because I can no longer afford the emotional baggage it carries and the pain it generates in my marriage. I worry I’ll just be a bitter shell if I don’t have passion for something, but I don’t know how to balance it out against the rest of my life.

    • Scott, wow….. I can see that my post has hit the nerves in soooo many passionate people who are married to people that just DON’T GET IT. To answer your question, NO, it’s NEVER okay to give up on your passions! I will admit that you gotta do something about that crafting ADHD 😉 That’s been my problem, too. I hoard all kinds of yarns, fabrics, this…that…and then some more….only to hear complaints sometimes about how it’s all crowding up the house. And it IS a problem when you’re not finishing what you start, which is my big problem, too.
      Maybe what you do is (again, I’m quoting the other commenter, Marcus) who said in the comment above, make a list of what your goals are, and tackle them. GET YOUR WIFE ON BOARD by sharing with her what your plans are. This is SUCH a smart move, because if she sees that you’ve got some specific goals and interests, she’s more likely to support you. It’s call “creating buy-in.” If you’ve got “buy in” you’re more likely to have a happy, successful household.
      The first step would be to definitely priortize your goals and your supplies (and your crocheting needles! :)) and decide what you really don’t NEED anymore, but keep the stuff you WANT. Share it with your wife. Set a plan for when and how often you’ll work on your passion. And then see what happens.

      OMG, I’m LOVING these discussions, guys!!! This means so much to me, because I’m glad that I’m not alone, and that we’re able to hopefully make our households more peaceful!

    • Kenya Vernon says:

      Scott please know that you and I are so much alike! I call it the minds of Einstein. We are so smart, and so passionate about so many things, but we have to convince ourselves to COMPLETE one thing at a time. One thing at a time, One thing at a time. I now write down all my ideas of things that I want to do so that it doesn’t overload my life (trying to do too many things at once). I let my ideas sit for a few months and if the passion for one of my ideas dies, I mark it off the list. I keep it to a minimum of 1 project a year. That way it’s a little here and a little there, and I still have time for my family.

  10. LOVE this! I do think it’s good to be out of balance sometimes though….if we’re in balance all the time then we’re probably obsessing about being in balance, then you’re out of balance. Am I making sense? Probably not. I’m not balanced 🙂

  11. Kenya Vernon says:

    Oh wow you’ve just called me out. Thanks for the reality check Serena.
    Love ya for all you do,
    K.V.

    • Thanks, Kenya! I think this post resonated with a lot of people. All of us passionate people are dealing with a spouse that can’t seem to handle or support our passion. Hubby said to me the other day, “Why aren’t you satisfied?” I made him continue to fill in the blank, and the said, “With US. Why aren’t you satisfied with US?” I told him it has nothing to do with no being satisfied with my family; just means that I love blogging and art and my creativity and I have to do it, regardless of husband or kids!

  12. Hi Serena.

    I totally agree what your telling in this article. I decided to start my own blog. I want to make money out of it as additional income at the same time I have this great urged to tell my own story through my blogs about my life as a polio survivor. So here I am turn between wanting to sit down and write my blogs or do some research and reading on how to be in the right track as a blogger or just do what some are doing which is writing short information about products. I also want to get involved in the community by reading other people’s blog that I like that make sense to me and put my own two cents in. But my biggest struggle is finding time to do all these things, and it’s driving me nuts. Last night I went to bed at 4am – from folding clean laundry to trying to write a new blog and then to reading information after information… Wow I’m so tired today, because when you got two boys (10 and 6) running around the house you can’t’ sleep in – and now it’s Sunday night getting everyone ready for the school week and work – yes I work Monday to Friday so I feel that I’m taking on a lot.. Oh well I’m not whining just expressing that I need to put a structure in my game ….

    That why reading your article was just so timely for me… Thanks a lot.

  13. Arjun Kanuri says:

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  14. Golf Blog says:

    I enjoy a round of golf as much as I can. Disappointingly, I don’t make as much time as I did when I was a young man. Sure it’s the same story for a lot of people. – Ridenhour

  15. Oh no! I are unable to make it and I am so sad! I actually want to go even so the girls are throwing me a heading away party that night at Angie’s. And that i need so much clothes for my new job. So bummed. Anyhow, possess a blast and i would go along with the dress its fab! XOXO

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