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Most of us have a fire in the belly, a passion or desire that burns brightest in us. It’s the heat and energy from this fire that moves us forward, gives momentum to our projects, and authenticity to our voice. It’s one of those things, sometimes the thing that makes us feel alive. Only you know what this thing is, and it’s impossible to overstate its importance. And it’s often the first thing that gets set aside or neglected in pursuit of our enterprises, even when those enterprises spring from that very thing.

Don’t you dare neglect feeding the fire in your soul; don’t for a moment allow the embers to grow cold. It’s never worth the sacrifice.

It is possible to lose the joy, for the fire to go out, drowned in the distractions and the day-to-day stuff that seems so important. Don’t let it. Nothing is worth the price. Don’t you dare neglect feeding the fire in your soul; don’t for a moment allow the embers to grow cold. It’s never worth the sacrifice. Especially when it’s the fire in our belly for which we do these things, create our art, embark on our adventures, or begin our business.

Consider the story of the fisherman, living in a modest home on a beach in Mexico, spending his day fishing. The businessman on vacation notices how good the fishing is and tells the fisherman he could do so much more, be so much bigger. If only he’d hire some other fisherman, eventually buy another boat, and then a fleet, his business would be huge.

“And then what would I do?” asked the fisherman.
“Well,” replies the businessman,”you could build a big fishing business, then move to America and make it even bigger.”
“And then what?”
“Eventually you’d make so much money you could retire,” the businessman says.
“But then what?” asks the Mexican.
“Well then you could afford to buy a place on the beach and spend your days fishing.”

Don’t let the stuff that currently sustains what you do, and what you love, put out the fire. Make the time to do your best work for yourself, to complete your personal projects, be with your kids, to pack the tent into the truck and go to the woods for a night. Don’t let too much time pass before you jump into a lake, or go to Venice, or see the friends you love.

There’s no point making money if to do so takes you away from the very thing you want to make the money in order to do. First things first. Everyone has to eat. But tend the fire. The fire is the point of the thing, and it’s much, much easier to keep it lit than to get going again once the embers have gone dark and you’ve forgotten the joy you find in the heat of the flame.

Keep the question “Why?” in front of you. Why are you doing this? Why do you spend your days, hours, and minutes the way you do? If they aren’t directly feeding the fire, or making the fuel to keep it going, could they be replaced by something better?

Pragmatically this stuff matters. Neglect the fire and everything that makes you who you are starts to fade. Your brand gets muddy. Your value slides. And the quality of your work declines. Feed the fire, fan it to flame, and (to quote Jonathon Edwards) the world will come to watch you burn.

Tend The Fire was originally published last August on ABeautifulAnarchy.com