“I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.” ~Joseph Campbell
There are seemingly small events in life that, in retrospect, turn out to be the catalyst for cataclysmic transformation. Such was the case for me when my oldest child left home to pursue her passion as a ballet dancer.
Little did I know at the time that this event would lead me to a brand new passion, a new business, and a new life.
My Life Passion Story
Prior to my daughter leaving home, I’d spent the previous three years supporting her as she pursued her passion, driving her two 60-mile round trips daily to train at her ballet studio. I often spent three hours a day in the car. I was also tending to my two younger children and attempting to maintain a public relations consultancy.
A child leaving home isn’t really a small event, but in my case, it wasn’t as dramatic as it is for most parents. My daughter was away from home most of the day anyway between school and dance. And she spent six weeks away every summer at ballet programs. So her moving to another city did not feel so dramatic or unsettling in itself.
But what it triggered in me was a tsunami of internal upheaval.
As my daughter’s passion for ballet blossomed, I was happy to help her pursue her dream, and I accepted the sacrifices involved. Prior to this intense training period for her, I had an active public relations business in which I promoted my clients (actors, artists, designers, and business professionals) as they pursued their passions. But as my daughter’s training intensified, I had to cut back on my PR work.
When she left home, and I no longer had to spend hours a day in my car, I suddenly had a huge chunk of time on my hands.
You’d think regaining this time would have filled me with elation. But I remember standing in the middle of the house in despair, wondering who I was and what I was supposed to do.
Between my PR career and supporting my daughter, I had spent years helping others come alive with their own passions. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t have one of my own. I felt directionless, uninspired, and totally lost.
I tried to resurrect my PR business, but I had no joy in it. I so wanted to feel the enthusiasm and intensity that my daughter and my clients felt about their passionate pursuits. I wanted to feel alive again. At the time, I was in my late 40′s with a 20+-year PR career under my belt but no other marketable skills (or so I thought).
I had no idea what to do, but I knew I had two choices:
- I could accept a boring, unsatisfying life
- I could figure a way out of this internal upheaval and find something to ignite my passion
I chose the latter.
At the time, I had no idea that my struggle and search would not only lead to my passion, but also would allow me to build a business as a personal coach, writer, and blogger helping others find and live their own passions.
Ultimately, what I learned during my journey became the blueprint for the strategies I teach my clients and readers.
Even with something as personal and subjective as finding and living your life passion, you need a logical plan of action.
Through my personal research, coaching, and interviews with those who are living passionate lives, I formulated six pillar steps that should be followed sequentially to unlock your true calling.
The 6 Pillar Steps on the Path to Life Passion
Step 1: Setting the Foundation
The first step to finding your passion is discovering more about who you are and what makes you tick, beyond just the superficial qualities. We can easily reel off our roles in life, how we appear to others, and what we believe.
But this first step involves a more in-depth look at yourself, why you behave and respond the way you do, how you interact with others, and the type of intelligence that drives you.
Step 2: Defining Personal Qualities
Over the course of a lifetime, we develop personal qualities that announce to the world who we are and what is important to us. Some of these qualities are innate, but most have accumulated through experience, influence, and chance. Our personal qualities include our skills and aptitudes; our core values and beliefs; and our joys and frustrations.
Defining your most important and life-affirming personal qualities is key to uncovering your life passion. This is where you will define exactly who you want to be within the context of all of your qualities.
Step 3: Creating a Purpose and Vision
After you’ve learned more about yourself, it’s important to step back from the details to see the bigger picture—the theme that pulls it all together and provides direction for your actions and decisions.
Having a life passion is so much more than discovering “what it is you love to do.” Sure, it’s fun to have many things you feel excited about or that are enjoyable. But a life passion needs direction, purpose, and vision to make it as rich and rewarding as it can possibly be.
A life passion supported by a greater purpose and propelled by a positive vision, is the stuff that dreams are made of. It is what turns us from just “living life” into thriving, blossoming, self-actualizing individuals. It gives our existence meaning as we choose to define it.
Step 4: Overcoming Roadblocks
Most people on the path to their life passion don’t succeed. It’s not from a lack of having a passion or a desire to find it. They fail because they hit roadblocks and don’t know how to overcome them.
The idea of living a passionate life is enticing. We have visions of living happily, fully-engaged in life, surrounded by loving and supportive people. We long to rekindle the feelings of enthusiasm we experienced when we were young and carefree.
Over the years, through our experiences and life difficulties, we’ve accumulated layers of limiting beliefs, fears, difficult emotions, and unresolved issues. We are out-of-balance and out-of-touch with our true selves underneath all of these old fears and beliefs.
But once you know how to address these fears and beliefs, they no longer have to stop you from finding or living your life passion.
Step 5: Understanding a New Mindset
When you set off on the path toward finding your passion, subtle changes begin to happen inside of you. As you take an honest look at what has been blocking you from finding and living your passion, you begin to have some “ah ha” moments, some profound and evolutionary mind shifts.
Circumstances, behaviors, thoughts, and even people you once accepted or tolerated begin to seem less important or tolerable. As you reveal what you really want in life, and address some of the issues that have been holding you back, you get really, really clear on your priorities.
Putting up with things and people that waste your time and energy no longer is acceptable. Allowing yourself, your needs, and your priorities to be back-burnered doesn’t work for you anymore. You learn to face these shifts and proactively manage the repercussions.
Step 6: Taking Daily Action
After all of the self-discovery work, creating a purpose and vision, and addressing roadblocks, your passion will begin to emerge. Pieces will fall into place as you focus in on ideas and inspiration that keeps moving to the forefront of your awareness, like the cream rising to the top.
The recognition may be immediate or gradual, but after all of the self-work you’ve done, at some point you reach a certainty (or a very strong inkling) that you have found it. You are there—but only partially there. The next critical phase of your passion work is creating actions to make your passion a reality.
This involves research, experimentation, and careful planning. It also involves flexibility and patience. But most importantly, it involves taking daily action in the direction of your dream. Finding your passion means nothing if you don’t find a way to live it!
Years ago, I hoped my life would be fulfilling and passionate. I dreamed about waking up every day with the same enthusiasm I’d seen in others. But for a long time, I didn’t actually do anything—I just hoped, following the same lifestyle and getting the same results. I was frustrated, I was confused, and I feared I was passionless.
Today, I have a thriving business, doing work I love that is purposeful and fulfilling. I am expanding my business and living my dream.
The world needs more people who come alive with passion. I know it is possible for you.
Photo by Colin Bowern