I was in primary school when I wrote my first short story. It was handwritten in a paperback notebook I received as a gift and I pencil-sketched an illustration as its cover. I proudly showed it to my parents and my young mind thought that was the main thing I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Childhood days spent sketching and writing stories progressed into guest writing fiction blogs in my teen years. My evenings were spent consuming novels and reading magazines, newspapers and online blogs – anything to develop my skill. With each passing day, I was more confident that I wanted to write stories.
It was thus a natural progression for me to pursue a degree in mass communication, while working on further refining my writing skills during my free time.
Fast forward years later, writing fiction isn’t the only thing I do. People who have heard me say how I wanted to spend my adult days doing nothing but writing stories would think that I have completely turned my back on my passion working in marketing and communications, following other entrepreneurial pursuits and writing about business and culture more than fiction.
But I’m happy where I am. I discovered that passion evolves and isn’t limited to one thing. As a new year dawns upon us, and many of us are planning to pursue their passions next year, I’m sharing three key things to keep in mind when it comes to passion.
First, passion can’t be planned. I couldn’t plan my passion for writing or my other entrepreneurial pursuits. I stumbled upon them by being curious and trying new things. After I received the notebook as a gift, and having finished reading the children’s books we had at home, I decided to write my own and I loved the process. I practiced more and took some classes until writing became second nature to me.
A friend once told me how the phrase “follow your passion” intimidated her because she didn’t know what she was passionate about. This is why it’s important to immerse yourself in as many experiences as you can, where you could discover that you may have more than one passion. When I started my career, and worked on corporate social responsibility projects I discovered that I enjoy them and with time became passionate about it and would try to incorporate giving back to the community at every project I would execute.
Secondly, passion is fluid. Growing up, I loved writing short stories, but when I started my entrepreneurial journey, I wanted to share back what I learned throughout the process with others in business, and that’s how I started writing business columns. My passion evolved from writing short stories only, to also commenting about my entrepreneurship journey. I still write short stories in my free time and I published a novella, but I didn’t limit myself to one form of writing. Though my childhood plan evolved from working solely on writing fiction to working in marketing and communications and writing about business, I discovered that creativity is the essence of all of them. I loved creating, whether it was writing short stories or working on a creative marketing campaign. By not limiting myself to one form of creation, I broadened my horizon, which helped me to grow and presented me with opportunities I could never have imagined.
Last but not least, passion has to be paired with work. Many people wrongly assume that just by following their passion, the door to success and financial liberty will automatically unlock. As important as passion is in business, you need to have a plan. You can’t just sit at home and expect clients to flock to you just because you love what you do.
As you reflect back on this year and plan for the next, remember that passion is limitless and fluid, but is useless if it isn't combined with hard work and a plan in hand.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi