Passions excite us, enliven our being and reflect our heart’s desire. Do you know what you are really passionate about? Are your passions able to be expressed through the work you do? How do we identify our passions? For some, their passion is ingrained in their being from birth. They just know what they want to be when they “grow up” and find a way to live their life around what they are passionate about.
1. Discovering your passion through just “knowing” from birth
My Dad for instance, was fascinated with flying and spent his life in aviation, first as a Navy pilot then as an aeronautical engineer with NASA. When he retired he continued following his passion of flight and built an airplane in his garage. It took him 7 years to plan and then build the plane and then another year to get healthy enough to fly it. He was in his late 70’s by then and had to have cataract surgeries on both eyes before he was allowed to pilot his beloved little plane. He really lived his life around his passion!
2. Discovering your passion through an epiphany
Sometimes life hands you the insight in an epiphany. I’ve heard many clients report a crisis of sorts prompted a sudden realization of what they wanted to do with their life. I call this the “wake-up call”. It may be precipitated by a dramatic life event such as a losing a job, going through a divorce or experiencing a serious illness or injury. For me, it was facing being downsized from my job as a recruiter in a staffing agency. It was literally like a switch was flipped in my brain and I made the mental leap from “guess I’ll need to go look for another job” to “what if instead of looking for candidates to fill companies staffing needs, I championed individuals and helped them find satisfying work that really fits their needs?” (read more on my story on the About page)
3. Discovering your passion through trial and error
The third way to uncover our passion is by trial and error. I think most people do this to some extent. We take classes we have some interest in and explore various careers. The process of trying out a variety of work situations can lead us to realizing what we do and do not find rewarding. We may stumble into a great job or end up in a fulfilling occupation simply by circumstance and the process of elimination. My daughter for instance, studied a variety of subjects in college and ended up with a degree in cultural studies and comparative literature. Not exactly a fast track to a solid career. Over the next 5 years she worked in office administration, retail sales, taught karate, became a licensed massage therapist, was a tour guide and concluded that what she was really passionate about was being creatively self employed, helping people tell their stories and throwing theme parties. She now lives in Denver and happily juggles multiple income streams as a freelance writer, editor, social media consultant and wedding planner. You don’t have to pick just one occupation or career. Keep experimenting until you find work that makes your heart sing!
4. Discovering your passion through introspection
When we respond to a yearning to have creative self expression, to do work that is in alignment with our core values and beliefs we have begun the process of looking inward. Conventional wisdom teaches us to go to school, get a good job, work hard, and save enough money to someday retire. However practical this path seems to be, there may come a point in which our heart overrules our head and the sensible path is no longer enough for us. We start to question the status quo, we become restless, anxious, stressed or depressed. We began to really want to be able to express our passions, to work enlivened, to be intrinsically in alignment with our deepest yearnings. Responding to this call of the heart can be life changing.
Tama Kieves in her book, This Time I Dance poignantly describes her experience of leaving her law practice in order to do pursue her love of writing. She talks about searching for answers by reading self help books like she was “in a library on fire” and by challenging her own beliefs about the work she was “supposed to do.” Today she is a successful author, speaker, and workshop presenter who inspires others to live their creative dreams.
Who knows what you might become, what inspiring work you may do? If you’re in the looking inward process seeking to identify your passions and discover your natural talents, one of my earlier posts may be helpful: “12 Questions to Help you Find Your Calling”
“My heart guides me tenderly and truly. I find ways through the wilderness. My heart finds paths through the desert.” –Julia Cameron
To find your passion, listen to the wisdom of your heart,