“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman
I didn’t spend two years and $100,000 for a master’s degree in counseling from an Ivy League university so that I could be miserable and hate my life 50 hours a week, but that’s what happened.
After a few years in the trenches of the non-profit world, my job had become so emotionally draining that it was taking a vicious toll on my health and causing gripping anxiety attacks. I felt exhausted more often than not, and I was scrambling to find scraps of happiness in my previously joy-filled life.
When I took the time to listen, my inner monologue sounded something like this:
“You know you’re not doing what you love. Your life lacks a deeper meaning, and you have no idea what you’re really passionate about. What in the world are you doing with your life?”
I wanted to do more, but I had no idea which path I wanted to take. I felt confused, stuck, and worst of all, embarrassed by my lack of direction. I was treading water as I waited for a sign as to what my next step should be.
As the months continued to pass, I became more aware of how I was wasting time. I saw my life passing me by, leaving me only with regrets and “what ifs.”
Finally, I was brutally honest with myself about my unhappiness and I embarked on some serious soul-searching. I asked myself tough questions and learned what it felt like to be authentically me. I discovered that my unhappiness was rooted in my lack of passion and I slowly began taking control.
Six months later, I launched my own coaching business. A year later, I quit my job, reclaimed my life, and I have never been happier.
But that doesn’t mean everything fell into place perfectly.
Even though I had been building my own business for several months before I left my job, I was still scared. I didn’t know if I would be able to support myself financially or if my business would be sustainable.
In order to build up my savings, there were months of saying no to happy hours and weekend brunch dates, moving in with a friend to decrease my rent, and cutting corners to save every dollar possible.
Following my passion was emotionally challenging and a leap of faith, but I never worried about making the “wrong” choice because I knew I didn’t want to be unhappy any longer, and that was more important to me than any paycheck.
It is terrifying when you feel like your life has no purpose or direction, but finding your passion can change all that. Finding your passion is like finding your personal road map. When you know what your passion is, you feel motivated, inspired, and so much clearer about what your next step should be.
8 Ways to Discover Your Passion and Live a Life You Love
1. Slow down.
When we slow down, we are able to tap into the best version of ourselves, which is most often when we find the answers we’ve been searching for. This might mean practicing yoga, going for daily walks, or setting aside time each day to meditate. Slowing down allows you to quiet the outside voices and listen to yourself.
2. Change your story.
We all tell ourselves stories about who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we deserve. If we can identify our self-limiting stories (I’m not good enough; I don’t deserve to be happy, etc.), then we can begin writing new stories that are grounded in confidence and courage, and map out actions that move us from one to the other.
3. Own your uniqueness.
We are here for a reason. No one else has your unique blend of talents, wisdom, strengths, skills, and creativity. We all have something great to offer, and learning to accept and own what makes you unique is crucial to sharing your gifts with the world.
4. Cultivate confidence.
If we are continually telling ourselves we can’t, then we will never believe we can. There is a chance you may fail, but it will be impossible to succeed if you don’t believe in yourself. You can create affirmations, focus on the things you want, or make a vision board that shows your future success.
5. Find the themes.
Recognizing the recurring themes in our lives creates a pattern for us to either follow or change. What themes or lessons seem to constantly surface in your life? What are you drawn to again and again? What areas of life seem to be full of discomfort and pain? What areas are full of joy and light?
Ideas flow more freely when we write without an agenda. New inspiration may appear unexpectedly and it becomes easier to connect the dots. Spend a few minutes of quality time each day with a pen and paper allowing yourself to process your thoughts without influence from the outside world.
7. Focus on the fun.
Too often we get wrapped up in the expectations we set for ourselves. We focus on the details and the to-do lists instead of what is most important. What do you love to do? What makes you smile? If money were limitless, what would you be doing today?
8. Push past fear.
It’s so seductive to tell ourselves that we’ll go after what we want when we have more experience, more money, or more time, but the truth is, that will never happen. We must identify these excuses as masks for our fear. It’s only when we get clear on our fears and recognize how they are holding us back that we can begin moving forward.
Photo by Miguel Mendez