How I Accidentally Gained Over a Million Followers By Following My Excitement

In case you missed my previous blog post and recent Instagram posts, I’ve been talking about how to take action on the small things that excite you in order to discover the bigger things that will lead you to your “passion” or “purpose.”

I want to address a question that has come up in regards to this topic. It may be on your mind too:

“Acting on my excitement sounds great...but how does it translate into doing meaningful work that financially supports me?”

A lot of people think that when they follow their excitement, their lives will be perfect and they’ll never have to work or do anything they don’t like ever again.

But that's not really how it works.

It’s not that you won’t have to work hard when you follow your excitement or even that you won’t have to do things that you’re not absolutely thrilled about sometimes.

It’s that when you follow your excitement, the work you do will seem less like work and more like play.

And because you are doing more of the things that you enjoy, there will be fewer unpleasant things you “have” to do.

I want to be clear about something:

By no means am I saying you should quit your job tomorrow and take up a random hobby with no plan, just because you feel like it.

There are intelligent ways to go about following your excitement…and there are not-so-intelligent ways. If quitting your job now would cause you distress and make you unhappy, then obviously don’t do it!

So how does one go about making a living from doing work that excites oneself? How does one “prosper from their passion?” What does that even look like? Here's a basic outline of how it normally takes place.

The 4 Stages of Following Your Excitement

1. You start to act on the small things that excite you and integrate them into your everyday life.

2. Over time, these small things lead you to bigger, more exciting things that are more relevant to your larger goals, objectives or interests.

3. You pursue these "bigger" things in addition to your regular, everyday activities, including work and recreation. (Some people may prefer staying at this step).

4. Eventually, the logistics of how you can fully support yourself by doing work that excites you start to become more clear. With some creativity, planning, education and effort, you figure out how to fully integrate what excites you into your everyday life and make a living from it. 

Of course, there's more to it than this, but these are the basic steps that take place. 

My Personal Journey

As you read this, see if you can spot all the examples of when I identified my excitement and acted on it.

In December of 2013, I was going through a very challenging time in my life, both emotionally and financially. 

While re-reading the classic success book Think and Grow Rich, I felt the urge to start writing down quotes from the book that resonated with me. 

I had already highlighted passages that stood out to me but for some reason, writing them down in a separate place seemed like a good idea. You might even say it excited me (wink wink).

So I bought a journal and started writing down each quote on its own separate page. I also started writing down goals personal goals and affirmations.

Then, one night I saw my girlfriend scrolling through her Instagram feed and it occurred to me that it would be a perfect place to organize these quotes. I didn’t know why, but I was very drawn to this idea.

I started an account and began uploading photos of my handwritten quotes and notes to myself. It was super inspiring to see so many positive messages organized into one personal "vision board."

Here's one of the very first pictures I ever posted on @thinkgrowprosper back in January of 2014. (It's still up there!)

One of the very first photos I ever uploaded to @thinkgrowprosper.

One of the very first photos I ever uploaded to @thinkgrowprosper.

After a couple weeks of doing this, another wave of inspiration hit me. I got the idea to create "internet-friendly" quote graphics, like the ones I’d been seeing around Instagram. As soon as I had the idea, I felt another twinge of excitement and once again, acted on it. 

And I continued to act on it for several months.

NOT because I thought I would make money from it. 

NOT because other people wanted me to. 

But simply because I wanted to.

And then something I didn’t expect to happen, happened...

People started noticing. Other people liked what I was doing and started following my page and commenting with positive feedback.

I was just focused on posting content that resonated with me, but it turns out that it resonated with many others too! In turn, these people shared my page with their friends and those people shared it with their friends and so on. 

I began posting inspirational content from a variety of other sources and the account began to grow rapidly. I was now reaching people literally all over the world. 

This was all extremely exciting to me. 

I continued to do this for about a year with zero incentive other than that I was having a blast and I felt like I was contributing something meaningful to the world. (One of my life goals has always been to impact the world in a positive way somehow).

After a solid year of posting to this account every single day, a motivational speaker emailed me and asked me if he could pay me to make a few quote graphics using his quotes and post them to my page. 

After reviewing the content, I agreed. This turned out to be the beginning of a media company centered on personal development.

It was a win-win-win for everyone. My audience gained a valuable perspective from a different source, the motivational speaker gained exposure, and I was rewarded financially and emotionally in the process. 

Fast forward nine months, @thinkgrowprosper reached 1 million followers. At the time of this writing, it’s at 1.6 million (and counting!).

What’s remarkable isn’t those numbers necessarily, but the opportunities and connections that have come my way because I continued to act on my excitement. 

I’ve met amazing people, become business partners with an incredibly successful businessman and even connected with the very individuals who inspired me to pursue an online business in the first place—all through a photo-sharing app that I could have easily dismissed as a frivolous time-waster. 

Did I know exactly where my excitement would lead me? Nope. Do I know exactly where it's going? Not really. But I'm enjoying the ride and continuing to follow my excitement. 

Life is too short to not do what excites you, especially in today’s digital world where pretty much anything is possible.

The Moral of the Story

Don't make the mistake of ignoring the things that excite you just because they seem insignificant or because you can't see how they're connected to your goals. It's not your job to know how they're connected, it's your job to honor what excites you by acting on it.

In my next post, I'll be talking about some of the myths and misconceptions associated with following your excitement/pursuing your passion.

Cheers to your success,

P.S. If you want to hear me talk more about my story and how I started @thinkgrowprosper, check out this conversation I had with Matt and Case from the Hustle Sold Separately Podcast:

From 0 to 1 Million:
How to Create a Business
on Instagram
By Following Your Passion