The Passion Method

A few days ago I wrote a post called “How to Iterate Quickly: 15 Features in 15 Days” and then I immediately turned around and didn’t follow my own advice. It’s not that I wasn’t sincere about the advice I gave in that post, in fact, when I wrote it I had all intentions of finishing my 15 features. After all, I was already on day 8.

However, something else took over, something that I know nags at every single one of us, begging us in different directions, begging us to stray from the plan.

Passion.

Sometimes you get that little inkling of an idea, but now is “just not the right time.” So you put it on the bench to focus on the plan that you’ve laid out. The plan that will get you closer to your objectives.

Then that inkling becomes something just a little bit more. Perhaps you woke up in a heightened state, suddenly aware that the inkling of an idea could be something much much greater.

Maybe before you didn’t “think the idea was possible,” but you’ve found new information and realize that it might be easier to create than you thought.

Whatever the reason, that little idea suddenly takes over your very soul. It’s all you can think about, even if you’re not working on it directly. You’re making mental notes on how the new feature or idea would function, you’re programming out in your head. In essence, you’re obsessed.

Passion is a very powerful thing, but it lives in the heat of the moment. It may be there one second and gone the next.

So what do you do when you just can’t concentrate on your present goal because passion has taken its hold over you?

You let it bubble.

But what do I mean by that?

When I relaunched Kobra.io about 3 weeks ago, there was one feature that I knew I would have to add eventually. In fact, everyone was requesting it too. It had to get made.

But there was a problem with it, people didn’t quite know what they were asking for. It was a complex feature, and I knew it would be extremely difficult to please everyone.

So I put it on the side-burner. When someone would ask me if it was coming soon, I just said “It’s on the list, but I can’t promise anything.” But even that one person would get my mind ticking again, “how on earth am I going to make this feature?”

I’d let the idea fester a little, I’d mock up diagrams of how it might function, research the libraries and open source utilities that may help me get it working, and sometimes I’d even write a few hundred lines of code just to try something out.

But then it happened.

It clicked.

After weeks of swishing around in my mind, I finally figured out how to make the feature work for everyone. And now, it was all I could think about.

So instead of finishing my “15 Features in 15 Days” experiment, I let the passion take over me and dove in headfirst into developing this new feature.

It’s not that I wanted to let anyone down, or that I was “giving up” on my experiment, it’s just that my passion moved somewhere else.

So when is it okay to drop what you’re doing, and let the passion take over?

Every time I sit down and write a blog post, I have a rule. I only write about what I’m extremely passionate about at that very moment. I find the words flow better, I find that I create better writing, that it is even more coherent and useful.

I have a list of 40 blog ideas, and some of them have been on that list since the day I started blogging here. If I’m not passionate about it, I put it off until later.

The important thing to take out of that, is that I’ve realized I work more efficiently when I’m passionate about what I’m working on. I get more done, and I produce better results.

So I came up with a list of questions that you can ask yourself to help you better determine if you should drop what you’re doing, and work on that nagging idea you’re passionate about:

1. Will the idea move you towards your “one goal”?

No matter what your side-project, business or product is, you have that “one goal” that you’re striving towards.

“Being the best at X” “Making the world a better place by X” “Connecting people by X” “Money.”

Whatever your motivating factor or goal is, will this idea move you closer to it? In my case, will my feature get more people collaborating on Kobra? I think it will.

But there are some ideas where the answer to this question is definitely no. For instance, is it an entirely different product or business? If so, I recommend reading my post “FOCUS by Giving Your Ideas Away.”

If you find that your idea will indeed move you closer to your goal, move on:

2. Are you finding it hard to concentrate on your other work?

Another way to phrase this might be, “is your idea keeping you from working efficiently on your other work.” If your other work is suffering I recommend that you take a few minutes and research your idea, scribble down some notes, draw a sketch or talk to someone else about your idea. Try to limit yourself to 5 or 10 minutes.

Then get back to work and see if the nag has gone away. No?

3. Are you ready to explode?

If you haven’t gotten to the point where your idea is consuming the entirety of your mind, keep on putting it off. The more passion you have, the greater work you’re going to produce. Build up that passion until you can no longer contain it.

 

Then, and only then, when you’re about ready to explode with passion, get to work! Here you will find that you’ll be producing some of your best work. You will have so much energy and vigor that nothing will be able to stop you.

This is “The Passion Method.”

Under the assumption that you’ll be at your best when you are the most passionate, be sure that you are working towards your goal, and building up passion as you go. So next time that idea is nagging at you, remember these three questions:

1. Will the idea move you towards your “one goal”?

2. Are you finding it hard to concentrate on your other work?

3. Are you ready to explode?

Sometimes that means breaking course, or changing plans, but that shouldn’t be something that you’re afraid of. It should be something to embrace when the time is right.

 

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  • http://justinmcgill.net/ Justin McGill

    Good advice Matt. I find the writing when you’re passionate about something especially true. I do that myself. I have over 50 different blog post ideas in my Evernote. Some of which is impossible for me to work on due to timing (90 day review, post launch items, etc), and some of them are shelved because I’m not as “passionate” at the moment.

    Cheers!

    • http://mattkremer.com Matt Kremer

      Hey Justin! Glad to see that someone else is already putting this “method” to work :) Must mean I’m on the right track!