Overcoming the Worst Part of Finding Your Passion

Reach for the stars

“You gain courage, strength and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Finding my passion made me fat.

Not fat in an “I have to wear a Homer Simpson Mumu” kind of way, but in an “I eat cookies and chocolate all the time and I’m not sure what happened to my muscle. Oh, and these pants, they don’t really fit anymore” kind of way.

I always was a stress-eater. Not early in my life, but as soon as I arrived, confused and distracted, into the world of corporate America.

I ended up being a consultant after merrily traveling the world and earning an international Masters Degree. But, tired of being poor and rained on (I lived in Belgium for awhile), I headed back to the East Coast and into an office. That’s when the stress eating started. And it stayed with me for years.

I managed, through a lack of grocery shopping and the occasional bad break-up, to control my weight despite a ready influx of cookies and cupcakes that always seemed to find me. But I thought to myself, “Okay, I’m eating like this because I’m unhappy and bored at work. As soon as I find my passion, I’ll be really svelte and trim. No worries.”

I spent years on the quest to figure it all out, dreaming about finding a career that required wearing a tiara and spending time at the pool, and complaining about how I’d be stuck in my day job forever.

Finally, I really did start to find my way. I thought about a few career fields that fit with my interest in helping people with their careers, and explored them. After attending a weekend on coaching, I was hooked. I knew career coaching in some form was my destination; I just had to get there.

So, I got certified as a coach.

I set up a website.

And, I finally quit my job.

And that’s when the stress eating really happened. Terrified about being without benefits, a steady paycheck, and a pretty fancy title for the first time in a long time, I panicked. Hard.

Cookies and ice cream and chocolate couldn’t do enough for me. They filled a void that I hadn’t even seen coming. And I ate. And ate. And then took naps because my blood sugar was out of control.

I was locked in a crazy cycle of eating, sleeping, and worrying—and I was terrified. I had found my passion after all, right? How could I be feeling worse than I did when I was consulting?

Every time I felt afraid, I ate.

And then I realized: every time I felt afraid…I ate.

I was literally eating my fear.

And that’s when I took myself out for a walk. Sitting and worrying and staying in my head was doing nothing for me. I had to try something else. Walking seemed as good an idea as any.

As I walked, I asked my heart this question: “Is this the right path for me?”

And then I kept walking, took deep breaths, focused inward on my heart, and listened.

As much as I was hoping for a “Yes! And here are three things to do right now to feel better,” what I got instead was a feeling of peace and certainty.

I was on the right path; I just had to put down the cookie and feel my fear instead of eating it.

I went back home and thought about all of the things I wanted to do with my life, even though they felt terrifying. Things like moving to a place on the ocean, traveling more, and only working with individuals and not companies.

I put together a list of everything I thought I should do, even though I felt weighed down by these ideas. Things like buying a home in my current location, working for anyone who would pay me, and traveling less and saving money.

Then I threw away that second list. I was determined to live life on my own terms, no matter how scary.

And I’ve never looked back.

So now it’s a few years later, and I did move from DC to San Francisco, I only work with cool people instead of big companies, and I’m kind of excited for my next trip… to Oregon. I know, nearby, but I’ve never been!

For me, the worst thing about finding my passion was the fear. The best thing about finding my passion was facing down my fears and embracing what I really want.

I still feel them, but they have less power over me now, and I don’t think I’d have the kind of success I do now without having taken a leap of faith and truly listened to my heart.

Struggling with fears around your passion? Here’s how to stop.

1. Get your body involved.

Go and do something that relaxes you and brings you some peace. Walking, yoga, crafts, fishing, sitting in the sun—do whatever you love to do. It’s time to get out of your head so you can hear what’s inside your heart.

2. As you do it, ask your heart: Is my passion the right path for me?

Take a few breaths, and focus inward. See what you feel in your heart.

3. Write it out.

Go home, and make a list of everything you want to do related to your passion, no matter how scary, and why it’s important to you. Now make a list of everything you think you should do instead. Throw the second list away.

4. Remember that feeling in your heart, and pick one thing on your list of wants.

Now plan how you will do it. You only need to take one step to start the journey, and with every step you take the less afraid you will be. You can do this!

Reach for the stars image via Shutterstock

About Christie Mims

Christie Mims is the founder of The Revolutionary Club, a Forbes Top 100 website for your career. You can find her chocolate and cookie-infused free guide, The 6 Simple Steps to Finding Work You LOVE, right over here. And, if you want to take your career on a fun vacation, and the most unusual career conference you’ve seen, then come to Sonoma for Career on Fire.

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  • parul

    I love it. I have been struggling hard to find my passion, but what if I don’t find it right now. Can I just give up? Or keep trying different things..Do you just keep going till you find it?

  • Darice

    yes. to ALL of it.

  • Don’t give up! Please keep trying new things – you’ll get there!

  • Beth Gallagher

    Thanks for this! It’s been quite a challenge lately, as kids do change (or try to) one’s path. I’m back on it though, and so appreciate your post!

  • J

    I applied this article to a different context – relationship. I want to come out my relationship and am finding it really hard to do so. Even though deep in my heart I strongly believe we are not right for each other, and the fact that he cheated on me, I’m still terrified of leaving! Fear of the unknown, what’s in store for me and my kid is stopping me from going ahead.

  • So glad to hear – keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Fuzzy_shoes

    I think the Eleanor Roosevelt quote is missing a verb somewhere.

  • sharma

    very beautiful words! i found my passion .. i hate to work for some one i wanted to be my own boss so I took an year off and started trading the intial losses taught me how to trade..I am doing very well placing small trades but cant find the courage to go big.. this is so much feeling stuck… any advice

  • Criola

    Chapeau, to you Christie! 🙂 I love your writing and coaching style and am truly inspired by your work! At the moment I (again) find myself at the crossroads of jobs after leaving a very unfulfilling position. I want to dive into Talent Management, and am now learning how to do networking in a new field and to building up a portfolio bit by bit. THANKS for your insightful, warm and cheerful article!

  • heatherms2k

    Great post! I have been going back and forth with discovering my passion and, “What I want to do when I grow-up,” for the past year or more. Recently I had an ah-ha moment of I want to help people.

    In my current job (more in the human resources field) I feel stuck, it is good money, but not doing anything that I really want to be doing. So I decided to start researching Graduate programs for Social Work. I have taken the very small steps to move forward to get my Masters, but they are still steps.

    I have a lot of fear behind them such as, what if I don’t get in, how will I pay off all the student loans, how will I continue to support my family during all of this (I am the main provider for our family), but I am still moving forward. I am also very lucky that I have an amazingly, supportive husband through all of this.

    Thank you for the great article and the extra pushes that I have been needing. Also, for the realization that I too have been eating through my fears.

    On a separate note, enjoy your trip to Oregon. We moved from North Carolina to Oregon 11-years ago and LOVE Oregon. We just came back from a camping trip and discovered even more about Oregon that we love. There is something amazing around every corner. Be sure to explore while you visit!

  • Saiisha

    Reminds me of Joseph Campbell’s quote, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Christie, I agree with you, that’s the only way to follow my passion and face my fears. And evolve into a stronger person in the process.


  • Thank you for sharing Christie, this is inspiring! I’m a spiritual and wellness coach who lives in DC and I’m really interested and in moving to CA. I have some fear around this and also still being new in my coaching practice, I can truly relate to your blog post. You inspired and encouraged me to know that it can happen and to not allow my fears to run me! Love and light 🙂

  • Ashlie

    J, I came to this article with expectations and did not expect to see this. I feel you on this matter. I’ve been exactly there before.
    I feel the need to say what I’m thinking because no one told me. I’m not saying I have the answer but I am saying, think about YOU.
    Change is always hard. Worrying about what people or your significant other will think is harder. Feeling alone and hurt more than you already are is even MORE difficult. In the end, when you really think about it, and it’s not something you want, just be done. Mentally, you’re done? Then just rip off the band aid.
    Then again, I’ve been told love is something to fight for, even when there is betrayal.
    What is important to you? Forgiving or Forgetting?
    Then what do I know. 🙂
    Good luck.

  • Sonya Peters

    But what if you have certain obligations to your parents who paid enormous amounts for your education?

  • Your biggest obligation to your parents is to be happy. That is all any parent truly wants for their kids, even if they sometimes have a completely misguided way of showing it.