Life is hard enough, choose pursuits that make you smile. Or choose to smile in your pursuits…
About a decade ago, I was in the US, fresh out of grad school, trying to make my mark in the world. What made me tick at the time was to do something that others said was impossible. With my background in computer engineering and sport psychology, I had the idea of creating software to help people stick to exercise, and loved it!
My pursuits to create the software took me to an entrepreneur’s meet up in Gainesville (my adopted town in the US). Over drinks, one of the more experienced entrepreneurs asked me what I wanted to do and I launched into my 2-minute elevator speech with gusto! He seemed unimpressed, so I started to embellish it with my background of playing basketball in India. I told him how I wanted to ultimately move back to India and share my experiences, guiding a new generation of athletes. Using what I thought was great skill, I maneuvered the conversation back to my current topic of helping people stick to exercise.
“Go back to that” he interrupted my maneuver.
“What?” I asked, somewhat surprised.
“India. Tell me more about what you want to do in India”.
I was confused. “What could he possibly want to do with India?” I thought.
“You were smiling when you were talking about it” he explained sensing my confusion. I hadn’t realized.
“That smile is tells you what you believe. Yes the other stuff is interesting. But this, back in India, is where your real interests lie.” The night went on, as did the conversation. Eventually we exchanged info and left.
What he said stayed with me though.
The first question was if I really believed in what I was doing? Second, if I am not smiling thinking about it, is it worth pursuing? Although I didn’t know it at the time, or perhaps did not want to believe, my heart always lay here, back in India. That was my purpose.
Now I am back in India, and pursuing my real purpose and my dream. It took my sometime to make the real plunge into attempting it. And I smile thinking about it. About the possibilities. And this is my litmus test for things I want to do (along with Steve Jobs famous, “if you had one day to live, would you do what you are doing today?” If you haven’t seen or heard his commencement address at Stanford, check it out below)
I still think my other idea was great and it still is there in the back of my head. But my real purpose is what I am working on. We do this a lot, don’t we? Choose goals that seem worthy and interesting, but they don’t make us smile. Whether the goal is to lose a certain number of pounds, or gain more money, or a better relationship, or a fuller life. If pursuing them already does not make you smile, then learn to smile. This is not about smiling when the goal comes to fruition, but in the process itself.
I’ll get into some more details of the psychology of this in the next post but until then, I leave you with a quote from one of my favorite movies, “Peace be your journey! Cool runnings!”
Are you pursuing what makes you smile? Please do leave your comments.