Have you ever been obsessed with something?
For me, it was always Harry Potter. Between the ages of 7 and 17, I was a veritable font of obscure Harry Potter trivia and lore. I went to the midnight book releases and re-read every volume until the hardcovers were falling apart, spines finally conceding to the strain. I stayed up past my bedtime and shoved towels into the crack under my door to keep the light from spilling into the hallway and alerting my parents to my nocturnal activities.
I was obsessed. Anything related to Harry Potter—I was there for it. I had an unquenchable zeal to have more, more, more. Nothing would ever be enough; I could live in that world forever.
And that’s the kind of zeal you need if you want to accomplish anything of note.
These days, my obsession is writing. I want to be a published author someday, and so I attack this dream with all the obsession of my Harry Potter years.
I set timelines and deadlines for each draft. I work on my book during my lunch break. I attend workshops, conferences, and meetups. I read as much as I can.
If you want to achieve your goals, you must be obsessed.
This idea is sometimes hard to swallow. We all have dreams—I’d love to improve my painting skills or learn how to play the guitar. But the trouble comes when we approach these goals with lukewarm hearts. Unless I allow myself to become obsessed—unless I dive headlong into whatever I’m pursuing, arms arched overhead to cut through the surface—then nothing will happen. Sure, I might pick up a paintbrush now and again. I might strum a few chords.
But I won’t reach excellence.
Maybe that’s perfectly fine—God knows not everything needs to be a competition. And not everything can or must be mastered. Hobbies bring us enjoyment, enrichment, pleasure, growth. They feed us and delight us.
But they’re not the stuff of big dreams. They’re not the stuff of obsession—of vocation.
If you want to make your big dreams a reality, then you need to start prioritizing. When you look at your life, what are hobbies? What are obsessions? And how can you prune back your hobbies to make room for your obsessions?
Are you content to let painting or playing the guitar remain hobbies? That’s great—they’ll serve you well and bring you joy. But if you want to hang your art in a gallery or play in front of a crowd, then you need to be obsessed.
Obsession is about time and commitment. It’s about showing up, day after day, and practicing even when you’re not feeling it. It’s about sharpening your skills and honing your talents instead of resting on your laurels. It’s about failing, learning, and starting over. It’s about wild, untempered joy; late-night sessions of brilliance or madness; and mundane, plodding days when nothing seems to go right.
Obsession is about returning to your practice, again and again, regardless of circumstance.
Sometimes obsession fades. That’s normal. Sometimes the spark flickers and dies out. That’s a signal to stop and reassess. Do you have the time and energy to keep pressing on, to recultivate your passion until the flame flares bright again? To slog through a period of darkness when you don’t want to show up and do the work?
Maybe you need to stop and reflect. Maybe you need to renourish your soul, filling yourself with inspiration and newness. Perhaps it’s time to take a break to throw a few logs on the fire, tending it until the flames shoot toward the sky once more.
Or do you need to move on? Is it time to finish this chapter, write THE END, and pick up a fresh, blank page, pen in hand? Maybe you need a time to rest, replenish, and eventually find a new obsession, a new meaning, a new purpose.
Whatever your goals are, I hope you find the obsession you need to meet and exceed them, a grin on your face and fierce joy in your heart.