Michael South

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How does one decide to chase a dream?

Richard St. John tells us that the first key to success is passion. I have heard countless times that it is important to "do" what you are passionate about and things like money and success will follow.

I am at a pivotal point in my life, I am a college freshman just finishing my first semester as a mathematical economics major. Recently, I have been questioning whether the path I am paving for myself is in line with Richard St. John's talk. It has been instilled in my for a long time now that my road to success will be through business and the corporate world, but I can safely say that this is not my passion. When I think passion, I think physics. The beauty of mathematics and its application to the universe is astounding to me.

My personal dream is to leave business school and transfer to a university where I can study physics and mathematics to my hearts content. I am sure to many of you who have been through much more, switching a college major may not seem like such a life-altering decision, but for me, this is the biggest decision I have had to make thus far.

And so I hope to learn from those of you who have experiences to share; have you ever made a decision that has changed your way of life or the path that has been laid in front of you? How did you decide to chase your dream?

In regards to passion, is passion something that you have to go out and search for, or is it something you can develop in what you are doing?

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    Dec 15 2011: I was led down many paths away from my passion but it kept on finding me. And one day the timing was right.
  • Dec 14 2011: It is undeniable that passion, more than just plain motivation, makes one chase after their dreams. What is unclear is the source of this passion.

    I advocate that the passion needed to make a dream come true deeply lies in one's self rather than it hiding in the world. It is not that you want to find "the want to do it", but it is more of "why you want to do it." But it may also arise from certain stimuli.

    Your best option is to think, talk and experiment. Talk to people that may directly or indirectly be affected by your decisions Find someone with the knowledge and experience to counsel you. Money, Time and Obligation may look like problems for you, but there might be ways to make it all work out. Find them.
  • Dec 14 2011: Passion finds you. However, passion can be a romantic notion or a continual fire. Many people make life altering decisions on a whim. Sadly, you hear about the ones that turn out well, but the ones that do not turn out well are embarrassing, much more frequent and usually not shared. Passion can be a great thing if managed correctly. It is OK to speak from the heart occasionally, but the folks that ten to do he best are the ones that act with the brain. Use passion as a motivation tool, not a guide to making like decisions.

    Most college programs are very similar the first couple years, enabling students to knock out the general requirements needed for any degree. It is also possible to double major, switch majors, or pick up your passion in graduate school. Your ability to make these choices is based on your performance in what you are in right now. Look at the differences in the undergrad curriculum between the program you are in right now, and the program you think might inspire passion in you. Perhaps you can make some of your electives required courses in one of the other programs, thus moving closer to a double major with a bit more work. An extra class or two during the regular year, and perhaps a couple of summer class, and POOF! you are on the trail of your passion. Many folks jump from program to program and NEVER finish one. This is expensive and not very satisfying. It is much better to complete one program and the augment your knowledge with more training. Frequently, people THINK they want something, but find that when immersed in the details of it, wish they had not acted hastily. Taking a few classes, without switching majors, gives you a taste before you act.

    Passion is a big motivating force, but you are an adult now and need to think through life decisions carefully as they carry consequences.

    Good luck!