Is it possible to go against the grain, live passionately, and attain a higher quality of life and a higher quantity of happiness, while eliminating stress and debt? Today’s guest, Krista Houstoun, creator of The Passion Project, has set out to prove that you can.
Q: Tell us about yourself. What’s your dream and how are you working towards it?
KH: I am a writer with a strong drive to do good for the larger world. So, my dream is two-fold: First, I work diligently everyday to deepen the scope of my art while simultaneously establishing myself in the writing world. And second—because I believe spirituality is creativity—I strive to constantly encourage others toward living life creatively.
Creativity generally does not fit nicely into the Mon-Fri, 8-5 corporate-cubicle schema (nor does my aversion to working for other people), so, needless to say, I required an alternate career plan. Ultimately, I found myself having no choice but to respond to the Jeanette Winterson quote, “If you can’t survive in this world, you had better make a world of your own.”
So that’s exactly what I’m trying to do: I created The Passion Project to grow my own ideal world – one where passion, creativity, kindness, and community flourish. The chief principle of The Passion Project is to align my dreams with my reality—that is to say, to boldly run like hell toward making my dreams come true, despite the “real world” obstacles/opposition that may advise otherwise, and to encourage others to do the same.
Q: Describe a gray time in your life. How did it stand between you and your dreams? How did you overcome it?
KH: My creative medium is words; my passion is writing. This I now know. However, for a great portion of my life I didn’t know this for certain. (I’ve never taken a “how to write” class…how could it be my passion?! I always thought.) It took me a long time to determine my passion undoubtedly—a process that involved ignoring what society, parents, friends, lovers and my own critical-self had to say about it; a process that involved deeply, honestly and sometimes painfully reflecting upon who I was and what I wanted out of life.
There are so many choices and directions I could have gone that I felt overwhelmed. I was suffocated by “what if’s,” confusion and choice-paralysis. Major, major gray. But by sitting quietly with myself, asking the hard questions and answering them honestly—clarity in regards to my purpose revealed itself.
Q: What fears have you faced as you chase your dreams?
KH: I’ve never feared rejection (as writers are often thought to) as much as I’ve feared writing something that wasn’t honest. I strive to write from a place of clarity and honesty, but clarity comes in waves and honesty is sometimes hard to spit out or swallow. So I’ve been known to second-guess myself too often for fear my work might tarnish some higher truth. This is a constant fear to overcome for me.
Q: What inspires you to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough?
KH: The knowledge that every single person who has been wildly successful at fulfilling their dreams has persisted through two things: uncertainty and failure. I believe those two things must be courageously faced and embraced in order to reach success. Yes, it’s difficult at times to press on and remain optimistic, but, as Rilke wisely advised, “We know little, but…that something is difficult must be a reason more for us to do it.”
But even with that knowledge, sometimes life is just too much, you fall too hard and resilience seems impossible. Which brings me to books: I turn to books for inspiration when things get that bad. Jeanette Winterson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Holmes, Rainer Maria Rilke, Eckhart Tolle, Tom Robbins: They all know the secrets of life—I let their words serve as a lighthouse when lost in the sea of life.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to someone else who is struggling to move beyond the gray and follow a dream, what would it be?
KH: People say with pride and comfort that “the possibilities are endless,” but therein lays many of the problems we are faced with when determining the true direction we want our life to take. Feeling overwhelmed with choices can leave us anxious, confused and stuck. I’ve found that the more difficult aspect of fulfilling our dreams is the discovering what our “purpose” is rather than the chasing after it.
Here’s my advice: Stay focused. Find your focal point and never take your eyes off it. Search diligently for your passion (passion = not something you could do, but something you must do), and, once you find it, pin it down, own it and dangle it like a carrot in front of your eyes. And then you must relentlessly chase after it. You must meditate on it constantly. You must want it (and believe that you can get it) over everything and anything. You must become obsessed. And that’s when all the “endless possibilities” will knock down your door—when you have mastered that kind of focus. The possibilities are endless, yes, but you first have to summon them to you with serious resolve.
For more on Krista Houstoun and The Passion Project, visit her at: www.geniusinthemorning.com/notesonpassion.