Competing Passions

“…life is better when you possess a sustaining practice that holds your desire, demands your attention, and requires effort..” – Malamud Smith

Over the past three years, since committing to traveling a journey of intentional self growth, it’s been a constant process of sorting through what’s essential and what’s not.

By essential I mean, the things that I value and cherish most. They are the areas of my life that bring about my true self. It’s a process of saying ‘no’ to the things that don’t fall into these areas and saying ‘yes’ to the things that do.

But now that I’ve traveled a great distance and able to surface my priorities and passions at this stage of my life, I’ve approached yet another quest this journey is asking for.

It’s not so much, am I doing the right things, as it is, am I placing the right amounts of energy to each of my passions and values, or even necessities?

There are three main areas in my life that I am fully committed to. You could say these are my passions, or the very things that feed my self growth journey.

These are the areas of my life where I find joy and fulfillment.


Family will always be the thing I cherish most, no matter what. It’s the foundation to who I am. It’s the foundation to whom I want to become. Therefore, when there’s a conflict between two things that are calling for my undivided attention and energy, family wins, always.

When you have a list of priorities in your life it’s easy to make decisions when you’re finding multiple areas tugging at you at once. It’s simple, refer to your priorities and what you cherish most.


The approach to my nine to five shifted entirely two years ago. Before then I woke up each morning trying to find ways to climb the corporate ladder; promotions, larger paychecks, fancier titles. But then I realized this kind of pursuit wasn’t making me happy.

In fact, in made the work a task on a never ending list. I found no joy in it. Upon realizing that the pursuit of having fancier titles in the corporate hierarchy didn’t make me happy, I decided to forget it all.

Instead, I focused entirely on the work itself. Upon shifting this lens, I’ve found myself getting lost in the work. I’ve found myself pouring more of my DNA, more of who I am, into the actual work. I’ve made it my own.

Because of this pursuit of doing the best work that I can do and only focusing on the work, I’ve become happier. I enjoy getting up each morning to do what it is I do. I pour myself into it. I make it my own. I offer my unique abilities even though it might be outside of the capacity of what my “job description” says.

The truth of the matter is, there’s no job description that can write your unique abilities. A job description is more or less a suggestion. It’s a place to start. The rest is up to you to make it your own and to make your position, your valuable assets, indispensable. This mindset has changed my professional career, my life, tremendously.

Intentional self growth.

The Unless You Care (UYC) project has transformed my life. As much as this project is for the UYC community, it’s just as much for me, if not more. It’s the backbone to my own journey of intentional self growth. It’s the intentional action for becoming honest and vulnerable with myself to be and give the best version of myself to the world around me.

Through traveling a journey of intentional self growth it’s my mission to share the stories I experience along the way. To spread the message far and wide that in order to live a life you love you have to take care of yourself first. This is the most important thing I’ve learned. It was a life changing realization for me.

Taking care of yourself first means finding moments for solitude. Whether it’s for a few minutes a day to a few hours. Having this time for thought, reflection, reading and journaling rejuvenates the soul. It’s the fuel for the travels this journey requires. This rejuvenation of the soul, becoming one with my authentic self, transcends into my outer world and impacts the environments in which I find myself in.

The things I cherish most collide. Competing passions.

So now that these three areas occupy my days, weeks and months, how do I go about giving my best self to each wholeheartedly? How do I go about putting forth the right amounts of energy into each without sacrificing the other?

It’s a flow and rhythm that I am working on. It’s a continuous process in which I reflect on wondering where my focused energy can improve and where it needs to slow down.

Over the past three months, I have been feeling that I may be putting too much energy towards work, and less towards family and self growth. I’ve realized that these bursts of focused energy come with the season I find myself in. I am enjoying my work immensely.

As a consequence, however, time spent on my intentional self growth has suffered. And I’m learning that when I don’t spend time on my intentional self growth first, the other two feel the ripple, to some capacity. It’s the primary message of the UYC project, to take care of yourself first so you can give your best self to others.

I haven’t been doing that.

It’s essential that I give my intentional self growth consistent attention, but not in the sense of the amount of time I put into it. Instead, it’s about having more intense focus on, and awareness of, my intentional self growth habits and journey.

The more focus and awareness I have of my self growth, the more enhanced Family and Work become. This is what I am learning, this is what I am experiencing. It’s being able to mindfully transition my energies depending on the moment I am in. Meaning, forgetting about work when I am with my family and making space in my day for intentional self growth efforts.

Beginning again.

The bottom line is this, in order to live a life you love, you must be intentional. Tweet this

It’s trusting the process and understanding that there will be peaks and valleys along the way and your energy placements will look differently as you move through the various seasons of your life. I’m learning to accept that and continually reflect on my placed energies.

The seasons in which we live are beautiful. Learning to ride those waves that stem from your heart will provide you joy. Live them wholeheartedly. Embrace them.

So here I am beginning again, listening to my body placing more energy back into my self growth journey; back into the Unless You Care project.

Take care of yourself first to give your best self to others.

It’s Here! The Unless You Care manifesto print is now available—designed for personal change. Order yours today!

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About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.


  1. Molly

    Family is the most important, but also the most challenging to me. I get so frustrated with them and am working on trying to stop and see the positive in what each of them have to offer. I have issues with trying to control situations I have no control over. I know I’m supposed to let go, but how? Where do I even start?

  2. Lucinda

    Eric, by chance i came by your website and pass this on especially for today
    perhaps you already know about this info. Richard Rohr :Center for Action and Contemplation. Today on my Face book he writes about Presence, Getting to know self and the Enneagram. It’s all a journey and we are blessed when we realize this by middle age. Lucinda

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