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Over the years, I’ve received lots of questions about how to find your passion and purpose. Not once have I ever been asked to help someone “think about their passion.” That’s because finding your passion is an active process and you’ll find that the #5SecondRule is an incredible tool as opportunities start to appear. What stops people from finding their passion is that can’t get out of their thoughts and move into action. When you use the #5SecondRule to 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 push yourself to start exploring and lean into opportunities as they appear, you’ll be shocked where it leads.

Start Exploring

How do you explore? Hire the best guide you can find: your curiosity. Your curiosity is how your instincts get you to pay attention to what your heart really cares about. If you can’t stop thinking something, make something your new hobby. Also pay close attention to envy. If you find yourself jealous of someone else, explore that feeling. What aspect of their life are you jealous of? This may give you a clue into what you really want for yourself.

Next, push yourself to take simple steps to explore that subject: read about it, watch video tutorials, talk to people, take a class, and write a plan. You’ll be surprised by what happens over time.

Your passion could be photography. When Chris first discovered the #5SecondRule four years ago, he was a CIO at a bank (and he still is), and he had always loved photography. He used the Rule to force himself to explore his passion, and, two magazine covers and multiple awards later, he’s a professional photographer.

Maybe you’re interested in launching a gourmet food business. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it before. In today’s world, you have so many resources at your disposal to help you explore. Take Eric as an example. He lives in Cambodia and had an idea to start an export business. He’s pushing himself to learn everything he can by watching YouTube videos and reading books.

That’s how you “discover” your passion, you 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 explore until you bump into it.

Build Momentum

It will start as just an instinct. It always does. First you take a class. A class leads to a certification. A certification leads to conversations. Conversations lead to opportunities. Small opportunities lead to larger ones. Maybe you’ll want to share something what you’re learning with people at work, so you use the Rule push yourself to do it. That’s when momentum kicks in.

You’ll curse me as things actually start to happen, but you’ll thank yourself for finding the courage to trust your heart and explore what you find fascinating. Jo, a banker in London, is a fabulous example of how something small, like taking one class, can grow into something remarkable like a whole new career. This story is an unbelievable example of how momentum builds from something small. Check this out: Jo, a banker in London, is a fabulous example of how something small, like taking one class, can grow into something remarkable like a whole new career. This story is an unbelievable example of how momentum builds from something small. Check this out:

As your exploration picks up momentum, you’ll move into the next phase—actually pursuing your passion full-time. At some point, the side business of photography will become your real business. Your presentation to the Bank of Scotland will become a full-blown speaking career.

The Courage to Commit

There’s no magic formula for when to pull the trigger and turn a passion project into a passion-driven career or major life change. It requires planning and some slow, deep thinking. If you are anything like the rest of us, you’ll torture yourself for a while until you can’t stand straddling your present life and the future one.

Michal had a major passion that she wanted to turn into a company and had “been wanting to do it for years but have just held back.” She 5- 4- 3- 2- 1 pushed herself “to announce the start of my new business.” Now, she has a reason to “not hit that snooze button” anymore.

We all deserve to wake up so excited that we no longer want to “hit that snooze button,” just like Michal. If you are thinking about making the leap like her, make sure to be intentional about how you ask yourself the question.

You need to ask yourself the Heart First question, “Am I ready to commit to this?” instead of the Feeling First question, “Do I feel ready to commit to this?” You’ll never feel ready. The moment you answer yes to the question “Am I ready to commit to this?” you’ll need to use the Rule to give yourself that final push.

Even when you are ready, it’s not going to feel good when you do it. Just ask Todd in Australia. Todd has known for a long time exactly what he is passionate about: physical education. He’s always dreamed of teaching it and having his own personal training business. As a high-schooler, Todd knew that he wanted pursue a degree in Physical Education, but his parents said, “Oh no, you can’t do that…” They pressured him to pursue a “professional” degree instead.

Four years later, Todd was a senior in a dual major program split between Law and Business. His heart was never in it. As Todd described in an email, that “little voice” was constantly in the back of his head “silently” echoing. Why did he stay in that major? Simple—his feelings. The thought of disappointing his parents overwhelmed him. Every single day, he thought about withdrawing and going to a different college to study Physical Education, but he felt paralyzed. Walking into the Registrar’s Office and filling out paperwork is easy. Facing the disappointment of your parents is soul-crushing.

For almost four years, Todd had wanted to withdraw, but he didn’t know how to face his fears or his parents. The #5SecondRule is how he finally did it. Todd was sitting in a LAWS5513 Lecture on Advanced Taxation Law when he realized that he was “ready.” As Todd put it:

“I can attest to you the dislike I had for such a program; I wanted to withdraw from the moment I started. But what is perhaps, most disturbing about this entire situation is that I had literally allowed myself to study a degree up to the final year before I decided I was entirely and completely done with hating my life!” Todd could see the future:

“My parents would send me off to do my Masters and along I would go, living my life…for everyone, but me!”

He described the instinct to act and the five second decision that made it happen.

“Just start. I need to withdraw. I gathered up my books and stood up in the middle of class and left.”

His body was shaking, but he was moving—straight to the Registrar’s Office, where he unenrolled from the University. He then got in the car and drove two hours south of Brisbane to The Queensland University of Technology, where he applied for the degree of his dreams.

That fateful Tuesday morning was two years ago. Todd is now 24 years old and halfway through his teaching degree and has “never had this much fun in my life.” He has been accepted into the honors Education program for next year. As he puts it: “I have found my purpose … this is in fact exactly what I was supposed to be doing all along.”

As for his parents, yes they were disappointed when he initially told them that he didn’t want to be a lawyer, but they were way more disappointed by the fact that Todd had been scared (to tell them) and unhappy for so long.

Have Faith

I believe you can make anything happen as long as you listen to your heart, do the work, and give up your timeline. One of my favorite books is the international best-seller The Alchemist. It’s one of the best-selling books of all time and has been translated into 80 languages. I’ve recommended it for more than a decade, and as I was writing this book, I bought myself a new copy to keep me inspired and reminded that the “Whole universe conspires to help you when you follow your heart.” When I cracked open the twenty-fifth anniversary edition, I was blown away by a story in the forward of the book. I had no idea that when The Alchemist was first published in Brazil, it failed. Miserably.

“When The Alchemist was first published twenty-five years ago in my native Brazil, no one noticed. A bookseller in the northeast corner of the country told me that only one person purchased a copy the first week of its release. It took another six months for the bookseller to unload a second copy—and that was to the same person who bought the first! And who knows how long it took to sell the third.

By the end of the year, it was clear to everyone that The Alchemist wasn’t working. My original publisher decided to cut me loose and cancelled our contract. They wiped their hands of the project and let me take the book with me. I was forty-one and desperate.

But I never lost faith in the book or ever wavered in my vision. Why? Because it was me in there, all of me, heart and soul. I was living my own metaphor. A man sets out on a journey, dreaming of a beautiful or magical place, in pursuit of some unknown treasure. At the end of his journey, the man realizes the treasure was with him the entire time.” Forty-one and desperate? I got chills when I read that line. That’s how old I was when I discovered the #5SecondRule, and that’s exactly how I felt. What I have come to realize is there is no expiration date on discovering and expressing the power of you. And as Coelho wrote in the foreword, it starts with a belief in yourself, and that belief is grounded in the courage to push yourself.

“I was following my Personal Legend, and my treasure was my capacity to write. And I wanted to share this treasure with the world. I started knocking on the doors of other publishers. One opened, and the publisher on the other side believed in me and my book and agreed to give The Alchemist a second chance. Slowly, through word of mouth, it finally started to sell—three thousand, then six thousand, ten thousand—book by book, gradually throughout the year.” The book became an organic phenomenon and the rest is history. It is considered one of the ten best books of the twentieth century. When interviewers ask Coelho whether or not he knew that it would be a success, this is what he had to say: “The answer is no. I had no idea. How could I? When I sat down to write The Alchemist, all I knew is that I wanted to write about my soul. I wanted to write about my quest to find my treasure.” The answers are inside of you if you have the courage to listen. You are like some other people and like no other person. You have something remarkable to share with the world. It starts with listening to what’s inside of you and ends with the courage to go where it leads.

Follow it.

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