8 Mental Habits I Had to Quit to Live a Passionate Life

8 Mental Habits I Had to Quit to Live a Passionate Life

The year was 2006.

I was a professional poker player.

And while I had once enjoyed poker, it was quickly losing it’s vitality.

My heart was aching for something else.

Little did I know that I was already on the right path

What was wrong wasn’t the path I was on, but the mental habits that were stopping me from seeing the truth.

I was blinded to the fact that life is a journey, and so is finding and living your passion.

So what were the habits that blinded me? Let’s have a look:

1. Excuses

My story begins with excuses. Deep down, I knew what I needed to do next.

I felt inspired to share my story, my truth. But I was held back by my own thoughts, such as:

  • I’m not good enough
  • I don’t know enough
  • I haven’t found the perfect passion
  • Who would want to listen to me?
  • I don’t have the connections
  • I don’t know where to start
  • What if this ends up being a waste of time?

Eventually, I had to face the fact that if I wanted to move forward, I had to do it despite the excuses roaming around in my head.

It took me until 2009 to finally break free from my self-imposed prison.

There was never anything holding me back. I was always in charge of which thoughts to give power to.

Letting go of my excuse-making habit was a practice. I went from focusing on what could go wrong to asking myself: What tiny step can I take next?

I focused on what I could do with what I had. And I realize that all I ever needed to do was to listen to my inspiration, and take the next step.

It wasn’t easy, nor was the path always clear.

2. Perfectionism

At that time, the tiny next step was to start my blog, Wake Up Cloud.

That’s when I ran into the next mental obstacle: perfectionism.

I wanted to get everything just right, so no one could criticize or judge me. Perfectionism was me protecting myself against the world.

But deeper than that, it was me making the dangerous assumption that I had to protect myself from something.

Today, I see that perfection is a great ideal, but not an achievable goal. I’m always growing and improving.

I will never be perfect, and that’s part of the beauty of life.

I can only ever do my best. Following my heart is my job. Controlling life, and other people, is not.

What helps me deal with perfectionism is remembering that this isn’t about instant perfection, but about constant progress.

3. What Will People Think?

Hand in hand with perfectionism is the habit of worrying about what people will think of me.

When I started out, I avoided doing video, because I was afraid that my friends would see what I was up to, and think it was silly.

Today, I see how silly that fear was.

The truth is that people don’t care about what I do. I say that in a good way. They have their own lives to live.

And even if people do care about what I think, it doesn’t change how I live my life.

I’m not going to let someone else stop me from following my passion, and living the life I know I was meant to live.

People can say what they want, but I’ll keep doing what I love.

4. I’m a Fraud

As my business has grown, so has the responsibility I have to my readers, customers, and clients.

I worry about not knowing enough, not helping people enough.

This mental habit is beneficial as long as it doesn’t keep me from moving forward.

It shows that I care about what I do, and the people I help.

To deal with feeling like a fraud, I like to get out my notebook and ballpoint pen. I investigate the feeling. I ask myself questions such as:

  • What specifically am I not good enough at?
  • What am I doing well?
  • What have I learned in the last year?
  • What can I do to become better right now?
  • Is this vague feeling of not being good enough helpful?

I may not be good enough at everything, but I’m great at the things I do know.

I will never stop learning, which means I can never know everything. I can only ever share what I know. And that’s enough.

5. Comparing Myself to Others

There are people out there who know more than me.

That’s fine.

But comparing myself to others is a lie, because no one is like me. I’m not here to walk the path of someone else.

As May Sarton once said: “We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”

My passion does not look like anything out there. I have to walk into the forest and create my own path.

I have to be willing to trust my heart, and see where it takes me.

I work with what I have. I deal with my insecurity of not being enough. I feel both fear and joy, because they are both sides of the same coin.

6. Yearning for Results

Next up is the dangerous assumption that the more I achieve, the happier I will be.

I used to work around the clock, thinking that I’d achieve my goals faster. But all I did was squander my time.

As I’ve relaxed, I’ve noticed that the less I force, the happier I am, and the faster the progress I make.

That reminds me of the following quote from Lao Tzu: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

I do my best to find enjoyment in the present moment. I work for works sake.

If I’m doing something I don’t want to do, I notice that the struggle is coming from the story I’m telling myself, not from life. I bring my mind back to the present moment, and things become easier.

7. Avoiding Struggle

Life is difficult.

However, the problem isn’t the difficulty of life, but me resisting it.

As M. Scott Peck writes in his best-selling book, The Road Less Travelled: “If someone is determined not to risk pain, then such a person must do without many things: having children, getting married, the ecstasy of sex, the hope of ambition, friendship – all that makes life alive, meaningful and significant. Move out or grow in any dimension and pain as well as joy will be your reward. A full life will be full of pain. But the only alternative is not to live fully or not to live at all.”

The more I resist life, the more I suffer.

The more willing I am to face struggle, the more it melts away.

What matters is not what life delivers, but how I react.

I’ve noticed in my life that what I think are negative events, actually lead me to my passion, to my calling.

As poet Khalil Gibran once wrote: “How shall my heart be unsealed unless it be broken?”

I rise above difficulty and struggle. I enjoy both the sweet and the bitter of life.

I don’t always succeed, but I do my best. And each day, I become better.

8. Living Logically

Last, but not least is my mental habit of wanting to live life logically.

I can plan. I can try to figure out the future, but life doesn’t care about my plans.

I don’t know where my life is going.

I can’t plan for a future I’ve created in my own mind. I can only listen to the song of my heart. To follow the positive pulls of my inner being.

For example, when I thought about writing this article, I felt open, relaxed, and happy.

It’s not a slap in my face kind of happy, but a subtle opening up of my heart.

As the great poet Rumi said:

“Although the road is never ending

take a step and keep walking,

do not look fearfully into the distance…

On this path let the heart be your guide

for the body is hesitant and full of fear.”

My body may be full of fear, but my heart knows where to go. It doesn’t give me a map. It gives me the next step.

I blend practicality with spirituality, and I move forward.

So Here’s the Thing

I’m afraid.

I’m confused.

Yet I’m following my passion, and doing work I love.06

It wasn’t always like this. I had to be willing to start before I was ready.

With each step, I’ve grown to trust myself, and trust life. I don’t know what’s coming. And that’s okay.

I don’t have to know.

All I have to do is take the next step.

Photo by Courtney Carmody

Henri Junttila

Henri is a freelance writer and the founder of Wake Up Cloud, where he helps people turn their passion into a thriving lifestyle business. When you feel ready to take action, grab his free special report.

33 Comments

  1. Hi Henri… wow! I see so much of myself here. Where I’ve been as well, where I am now & to where I long to be. So many points/statements touched home. Some you help have me sort through, amazing. Great article, so many great points! Enjoyed very much:)

    Reply
  2. Amen, brother.

    Reply
  3. Henri,

    All so wonderfully said. Great post! Freeing ourselves from all those negative things in our head, really does bring back our passion for living. Usually I want to pity myself, gratitude does so much to get me out of that kind of thinking.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, Susan :)

      Reply
  4. Hi Henri,
    I felt very moved by your post. It felt like you are telling my story in yours. I took the leap into the unknown in 2004 and each step has helped me to shed the fear and worries and live more authentically.

    I recently started an on-line business and have gone through so many of the points you mentioned. My motto is “At this moment, I have everything I need to to take the next step.” We are all walking on a similar journey!

    Thank you for the lovely inspiring post!

    Reply
    • Very well put, Carolynne. Thank you for the lovely comment. We’re all on the same journey :)

      Reply
  5. Hey Henri,

    Funny that you should write this now. I was just writing about the same thing. One thing that always helped me is seeing people further along the path admit to not being perfect. To struggling with doubt, and perfectionism, and more. So you’ve helped me with this post in more ways than one!

    Reply
    • Glad to hear that, Ragnar! We all have doubtful thoughts. The thing is: We don’t have to pay much attention to them. We just keep on doing what we do.

      Reply
  6. So many people would have been riddled with insecurities and doubts by your former career. Yet professional poker playing was inconsequential to you. So you did the right thing by ditching what was easy for you and chose to live with the challenges of your new life.

    “My passion does not look like anything out there. I have to walk into the forest and create my own path.
    I have to be willing to trust my heart, and see where it takes me.”

    That is excellent advice for anyone that chooses to live in the low state of envy. I love the fact that you have decided to live your life passionately, Henri. I admire your strength and determination for changing the course of your life to what you need it to be.

    Reply
    • Thanks Dave for the great comment!

      Reply
  7. This is just what I needed to read today. Thank you for writing such inspiring posts. Thank you for sharing these things which you have realized. They make people realize stuff too. Thank you and keep on inspiring! You definitely touch lives. :)

    Reply
    • Thank YOU, Allison :)

      Reply
  8. “The inward light is forever striving to gather enough additional light to penetrate the fog of our senses.” ~Henry Stanley Haskins, Meditations in Wall Street, 1940, originally published anonymously

    Reply
  9. Some wise man has observed that there are three kinds of people. One; Those who will not venture upon any new task for fear of failure or criticism from others. Two; Those who will start on the journey but give up half way scared of the difficulties encountered on the way. Three; Those who once take up a task they do not rest until they are able to accomplish it despite odds. Your blog, Henri, is a tribute to the third kind of people, who may not be very successful kind of people in mundane terms but they are certainly self- confident and happy people. They live their life in abundant measure.

    Reply
    • Nicely put. I can’t not follow my heart and passion. So that’s what I do.

      Reply
  10. Wow. Amazing post.
    Loved the way you have expressed your thoughts. Very authentic.
    I agree. Change can be hard, but there are ways around it.
    Here is another perspective on how to change and what to do to make sure that the change is permanent:

    http://gameligit.com/changing-habits-complete-guide/

    Reply
  11. Dear Henri

    wonderful staff..especially fear I Abbreviate f.e.a.r.
    as false illusion against reality, I agree in doing what you love to do

    Reply
  12. Excellent article. You sum up many important and practical points into one concise post. I have read entire books that wind up saying less than you managed to say in one post. Most of us know what we need to do deep inside. It is about overcoming those “obstacles” which for the most part we create. Bravo!

    Reply
    • Thanks Steven. I truly appreciate the kind words!

      Reply
  13. I will go with Steven
    “Excellent article. You sum up many important and practical points into one concise post. I have read entire books that wind up saying less than you managed to say in one post. ”

    Truly awesome – we are all same but still so different. …

    Reply
  14. Henri,

    Thank you so much for your post and your sincere honesty. I believe most of us has the emotions and feelings that can block our success. I know I have had them too.

    For example it took me 20 years to become published as an author for many of those reasons. In my garage I literally have a large bin with different versions of my book. The funny thing is that while I have finally completed my “BOOK” my book I recently published or my first two books that I have published are not my “20-year BOOK!” It is hilarious.

    So now my “other” book is published and I am all of the things you mentioned. Right now, I am really wondering what people will think and yearning for results. But truthfully, this unplanned book happened on it’s own and If I just take baby, positive actions I think 50% of the challenge is won. Thanks again for an enjoyable blog.

    Reply
    • Hey Pamela,

      That’s a great example of what happens when we get out of our own way. Things just tend to happen. Book ideas pop up when we stop trying so hard. It’s as if an unseen force is guiding us (if you want to put it that way).

      Or you could say that the 20 years you spent writing and rewriting prepared you for what’s to come, which is also true.

      Good stuff, and congrats, Pamela. The journey continues :)

      Reply
  15. What a terrific article! Exactly what I needed to see this morning. Your first point in particular resonated with me; I am a terrible worrier and it was great to be reminded that taking a step, any step, in the direction of my dreams is the best way forward. Thank you Henri, you’ve made my day.

    Reply
    • Glad to hear that, Dave! Eventually we realize that worrying doesn’t get us anywhere. But there’s no need to rush things. Worry away. Enjoy it :)

      Reply
  16. You hit me with this Henri.
    As an anlyst kind of person, I always concern of what other people think of me. And because of that, I cannot do full-out of my real feelings or emotions. As a result, I don’t know myself; I don’t what is my passion. I always think of pleasing others. I forgot to please myself.

    I am passing through difficulties right now. I am so thankful of your post. It inspires me to do the things that I want by taking that small steps…

    Reply
    • Hey Victory,

      What helps me is to not judge who I am. I’m not perfect either. I still care about what people think, but I’m not harsh on myself. I don’t push myself to change. I am who I am. I grow at the pace I grow.

      A big part of the struggle is us thinking that we need to be better. But what if we were okay with things as they are?

      The funny thing is that when we stop trying so hard, change happens faster.

      Reply
  17. Living logically is a bad mental habit? :-)

    Never looked at it like that. But now, after reading this post, I agree. That’s awesome. We need new perspectives like these.

    Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  18. Henri,
    I admire your vulnerable honesty. This list comprises the exact feelings I had (and still have often), as I start my online business. I especially like the line “there was really never anything holding me back”.

    This is such an important concept, one that most will never understand. There literally is nothing holding us back from realizing our full potential and living the life we want. It’s just our own shit that is the barrier…

    Reply
  19. Great post! I especially resonate with #6 Yearning for Results.

    I like the saying: “Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.”

    That is the beauty of a lifestyle business, you can define your own success.

    Reply
  20. Profound article!

    Reply
  21. Henri, great piece. I can relate and have experienced all 8 of these limiting beliefs. When in this fear thinking, I have struggled to keep moving forward and to hold onto what I am working towards. However, I have learned that when fear comes up, it is an indicator that we are on the right path and close to something important to our growth. When we release the mental habits that get in the way, we become stronger and are more aligned with our truth and purpose.

    Reply
  22. I am so glad I found this blog. Henri what you wrote about for number 6, 7, and 8 were exactly what I needed. When you talk about working around the clock and not being in the moment I can totally relate. These have been two of my struggles in which I would love to over come but it takes time and effort to change a habit. Avoiding struggle now can you say that again, I see it everywhere I go people cutting in the checkout line so they don’t have to wait the extra five minutes longer, paying people to do homework because they don’t think they are good enough, (or worst self medicating so they can avoid whatever is bothering them in that exact moment. Even though I see people avoiding lots of stuff and see how much better off it would be if they just confronted their problems I still don’t confront mine all the time. Your quote “I don’t always succeed, but I do my best. And each day, I become better.” I want displayed in my house because it is SUCH a great daily reminder to live a good life. lastly, what you talk about in number 8 hit me the most. I am for sure one of those crazy people that wants to plan out EVERY SINGLE THING, this post reminded me that things truly are out of our hands and even if I have my entire day, month, year, or even the next 5 years things will come up that I wont be able to change so in the mean time I should keep that in prospective and try to breathe and go with the flow. thank you so much for this blog post it really did help me relax and feel better about myself, my future, and my life.

    Reply

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