As a coach, I often hear, “I want to find my passion.” While some of us clearly know what we are called to do, others of us don’t. If you are a passion seeker, here’s a clue: Drop the struggle. Anxiety about passion won’t help you discover it faster. For most of us, passion does not arrive as an instantaneous inspiration, but rather, it emerges as we learn who we are.
So instead of obsessing about finding your passion, can you get passionate about exploration? What’s happening for you now? If your job is boring, how might you change it? If you are burnt-out, how might you take better care of yourself? Figure out what is stopping you. Know it, taste it, improve it, if needed. Try new things; be surprised by what you enjoy. Is it possible to stop focusing on how you want things to be, and start accepting, (or even being in love with) what you are doing right now?
For me, it’s been like putting together a jigsaw puzzle where I’ve gathered up the pieces over the course of a 35-year treasure hunt. While part of me wishes I could have known my path sooner, it would not have been possible. It’s only recently that I’ve gathered up enough puzzle pieces (skills and awareness) to identify the picture that has emerged.
Here are some interesting questions to help you start to consider your life’s path. How many of these can you answer?
What do you love?
What are your skills and gifts?
What do you care about deeply? What moves you to tears? What issues get you angry, absorb you or bring you joy?
What would you do for work even if you weren’t paid to do it?
What is essential to your happiness?
What do you really need?
How would you describe your essential self? Are you a problem solver, a poet, an adventurer, a maker, a storyteller, a teacher, a peacemaker, a hermit? (Tip: Observe your patterns of behavior to get to the answer to this – rather than trying to label yourself with what you would like your essential self to be!)
Your answers to these questions are a clue to your level of self-awareness. For any that you can’t answer, get curious. Can you take a class, try a workshop, enter a contest – or work as a volunteer? Remember that if something you try doesn’t bring you joy, (or doesn’t fit well with your skills and gifts), you can move on.
Pay attention if any of these questions awaken your inner critic. What conflicts hold you back from doing what you love? One common issue is money. For example, if you want to be an artist, and you believe you need to earn a six-figure income to keep you afloat, ask yourself, is that absolutely true? If you are willing to look at what you really need and want, you may find that there are a million possible creative solutions to your dilemma. Could you pursue art as a secondary money making venture? Can you change your living situation and/or your budget so you can feed your passion until you can earn those six figures? You get the idea. Getting clear on needs and desires allows you to create many choices that can lead you to your right path.
You may also need to get clear on limiting beliefs. Perhaps you think that following your passion is selfish and that being selfish is bad. Is that really true? Explore the assumptions and self-judgments that stop you from realizing your full potential and joy. If this is new to you, check out some of the many available resources, including coaching programs and books like “Loving What Is”, by Byron Katie and “I Could Do Anything if I Only Knew What It Was” by Barbara Sher.
In short, getting on a path, any path, will take you somewhere. And somewhere is better than being stuck sitting around lamenting that you don’t know what you want. Don’t wait for the perfect answer to find you. Instead, follow your light, follow your bliss. If an idea sparkles for you, give it a go. Have faith. Your life will take care of itself.