Career, Passion and Purpose

sunset smllI recently created a new mini-course titled “Find Your Dream Job”.  In planning my two session workshop, I reviewed many of my favorite books and discovered a couple of new ones.  I found similarities and common themes on finding your calling, realizing your right livelihood, and building a career based on your talents and passions.  Here is the basic underlying message I concluded:

To create the life you want, you have to get clear on what that is. 

There is a story I often share to illustrate this:  You are in a restaurant looking over the menu.  The waiter appears and you say:  “I’ll have a soda, French fries and a cheeseburger”.  As he turns to head to the kitchen (or computer terminal these days) you call him back: “on second thought, I shouldn’t have the fries, so give me a small salad instead.”  Again, he turns and starts towards the kitchen.  You call him back saying: “you know I really don’t need the cheese, just give me a plain burger.”  The point of this story is that the cook in the kitchen can’t make your order until you can decide what you really want.  Think of the cook as “the universe, the divine, God or the source”.  It cannot bring you what you want in your life if you can’t place the order. 

If you look back on your life, consider:  have you started down one path or another only to change direction over and over?  It could be that you are simply seeking to live a life in alignment with your passion and purpose and haven’t quite arrived there yet.  Through trial and error, you may see you are steadily moving in a direction, you just don’t know where you are going yet.  If you keep returning to your core values, your passions, and stay in alignment with those through your thoughts, decisions, actions and goals, your purpose eventually reveals itself. 

You may be saying “that’s all well and good but I am just not finding my own purpose.  In fact, I am more confused than ever of how to find my best career direction, much less my life’s purpose.”  Let’s look at how the mind works for a moment.  Our thoughts are like monkeys jumping from branch to branch looking for a better banana.  Additionally, our entire physical system is driven by the instinct to avoid pain and seek pleasure.  When new information comes in, the brain goes into an alert state.  The amygdala is saying; “wake up, something’s happening, is it SAFE or is it DANGEROUS”?  When you are endeavoring to change your mind and change your life this causes some upheaval.  There are “bumps in the road”.  The old patterns you’ve set up in your brain tissue want to keep running and here you are, forging new links.  This process can result in feelings of confusion, you might feel unlike yourself.  Change can shake things up! 

By bringing your focus back to your passions, back to your pure intention to live your life in alignment with your core values, the path becomes easier.  For myself, I have found a regular meditation practice to be helpful in slowing down the sheer number of thoughts that zip through our brains (did you know scientists now say we have as many as 80,000 thoughts a day?).  When we stop “following the monkeys from branch to branch”,  we may hear our small inner voice, our intuition, our higher Self prompting us and nudging us to move toward that alignment of passion and purpose. 

Here are some of the books I recommend to help you find that dream job, your purpose, your passions…

The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose, Janet and Chris Atwood

Build Your Dreams: How To Make a Living Doing What You Love, Alexis Irvin and Chip Hiden

Inspired & Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!, Tama Kieves

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It, Barbara Sher

Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design, Lawrence Boldt

“We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about.”   Joseph Campbell

Why We Fail to Find Our Life’s Work

Listen to your inner voice

Listen to your inner voice

I had a birthday this week and got to thinking about how quickly the years go by.  It saddens me how many people slog though endless days working at jobs they don’t like.  What stops them from leaving an employer or an occupation they don’t find satisfying?  Why do they grit their teeth and continue to go to a job that drains their energy and robs them of precious hours they could be using in pursuit of more joyous work? 

I’ve been re-visiting some to the books in my career coaching collection and in How to Find the Work You Love I discovered something I thought important to share.  The author, Laurence Boldt suggests that what stops us from pursuing a calling or finding our “life’s work” are the “Voices of Doubt”.  Here is how he defines these inner voices.

The voice of doom and gloom – You might identify this for yourself when your mind starts up about fears of financial ruin.  (Are you really going to become a bag lady if you quit your job?).  Is it really riskier to ignore your creative urges and stay in work that pays the bills but sucks your precious life force?  As George Bernard Shaw put it; “If you are going to let the fear of poverty govern your life…your reward will be that you will earn, but you will not live.”  I think sometimes we just have to feel the fear and move forward anyway!  You never know what opportunities may come your way once you start moving towards your ideal career.

The voice of conformity – Evidence of this voice occurs when you start worrying about others’ opinions of you.  For example, when I decided to launch my home based business 10 years ago, I got some negative response from people.  “You’ll never be successful, don’t you know most small businesses fail in the first couple of years?”  “You have no business in being in business! You don’t understand the principles.”  “Go get a steady job and get a regular paycheck like everybody else.” If I had succumbed to those opinions I would have missed out on years of fulfilling, heart engaging, and energizing work!  Just reading these old “voices of conformity” brings my energy down! Don’t let the naysayers undermine your intentions to follow your heart!  Trust your inner wisdom and go blaze a new trail.  You don’t have to do a certain job, you can choose differently.

The voice of self diminishment – This one is insidious and can derail your best intentions.  These are the messages we tell ourselves about not being _______ enough.  (You fill in the blank).  Don’t put off following your passions because you think you have to get more; training, practice, organized, money or whatever you feel is missing.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t do any preparation to realize your life’s work, it does mean you stop trying to talk yourself out of it because you are feeling inadequate.   Do some research and find out the truth.  For instance; do you really have to have a degree in business to start one?  (No you don’t)

The voice of idle complaint – Another name for this voice could be;  the whine and procrastinate process.  We all know people who seem to enjoy complaining.  You know the ones that love to share how awful their work/life/relations/situation/whatever is.  Please don’t do that to yourself!  Evidence of the voice of idle complaint appears when we procrastinate.  When we turn a deaf ear to the voice of our inner wisdom and come up with excuses to ignore it. For example you might say to yourself or others; I will make a career change when “I have enough money, my husband/wife finishes school, when my kids go off to college, when I get fired or laid off, when XYZ occurs.”  We wait for some external circumstances to change in order for us to take action to create our own future.  Write down a few actions you can realistically take towards making your dreams for fulfilling work come true and then do them!  

I am not suggesting anyone act irresponsibly and just assume if you leap off a cliff your wings will appear, but I am encouraging you to really examine your reasons for staying in a job or work situation in which you are truly unhappy. 

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by the dogma -  which is living the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and own intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”  —Steve Jobs

Steve got it right.  He certainly blazed a trail and changed the world.  You can to!

Passion at Work

Pattiy Torno

Pattiy Torno

What would it be like to be excited to “go to work” on a regular basis, to be brimming with creativity and inspiration, to be energized by your own efforts?  I have often asked that question in an effort to find answers to share.  Do you know someone who says they absolutely love their work?  Have you ever heard someone say; “I enjoy this so much I can hardly believe I get paid to do it”?  Who are these people and what do they do?  I found some shining examples during a recent visit to the Carolinas.

I spent an afternoon wandering the River Arts District in Asheville, NC a couple of months ago. “This unique neighborhood along the French Broad River is home to more than 165 artists with working studios located in 18 turn-of-the-century industrial buildings”.  I loved that people are welcome to wander in and talk with the artists, and if you’re lucky, observe them at their craft.  What really struck me was the unbridled enthusiasm of the artists I spoke with. Their passion for their work was a tangible living thing exuding from each studio I visited.  No one tried to sell me anything either.  I loved that!

Take Jonas Gerard for example.  Born in Casablanca, Morocco in 1941, he migrated to NYC and began showing his art on the streets at the age of 16.  Although he spent years working in the engineering field, his passion for his art eventually lead him to pursue it full time.  Largely self taught, he is best known for his abstract art.  He describes the essence of it as:

  • To unfold the spirit of self-exploration by painting (or creating) freely without restraint or self criticism
  • To develop a deeper trust in one’s intuition and instinct as they happen
  • To realize that letting go of set goals opens up a whole world of infinite possibilities

I think these are terrific goals for anyone seeking fulfillment in their work, don’t you agree?

William B.Leonard of Bold Life said; “it would be hard, maybe even impossible to find anyone who is more passionate and energetic about his work than Jonas Gerard.  He is an artist with the heart of a showman and he happily welcomes visitors into his studio to watch him work.  As he paints, he dances in front of the canvas to music that blares raucously from his cd player” and talks while painting saying that he has no idea where the music and paint will take him.”

Another studio I visited was Pattiy Torno’s.  When she was in high school she decided to head towards fashion design as a career.  She says on her webpage, “It was the only career I could think of that would allow me to earn a living doing what I love most—sewing.”  She apprenticed in the fashion industry in New York and then started her own business in the 1980’s as she wanted to get back to “the simple joy of playing with fabric.”  She began making quilts.  (See her picture above with a thimble on her finger and quilt behind her.) 

As I sat in her studio drinking herbal tea that chilly afternoon, I was struck by how much she truly loves what she does.  Pattiy shared her work and encouraged me to touch and try on her creations.  I walked out with one of her lovely fleece hats on my head. Whenever I wear it, I think of the joy of the artist who made it and it makes me feel good (it’s nice and warm too!).

Do you have passion at work?  If you are shaking your head, NO, you might re-consider if you feel or express any of the following:

Empowered, energized, excited, unstoppable, joy, entertaining, creative, evocative, motivated, a sense of flow, giving to others, or sharing your talents.

And, if none of those words apply, you might rethink your career path…. Life is too short to spend more than half your waking hours in passionless work.

 

Merging Work and Play

I love the sense of playfulness the artist captured in the movement and sheer delight of the two children in this picture.   I took this shot while waiting for my plane in the Greenville-Spartenburg airport in SC.  It is a reminder to have fun, to find time to play in our lives, and to experience light hearted moments.   I am heading there again this week and remembered this photo.  I got to thinking that the average person spends an inordinate amount of time at work and not enough time in play.

The traditional American work ethic is to indulge in leisure pursuits or “play” only when our work is done.  There is a common belief that work requires self discipline, long hours, and sacrifices.  As a career coach I often ask people what the word “work” means to them.  I get answers like; “boring, drudgery, wage slave, too many hours, frustrating, exhausting, routine, hard, meaningless, etc.”   I remember asking my daughter as a new college grad what came to mind when she hears people talking about getting a job and going to work.  She thought for a moment and then said:  “I see a sweaty bald guy in overalls dragging a ball and chain in a warehouse with a concrete floor and small windows and it’s raining outside and the water is dripping on the floor.”  I wonder how many other people have such dour imagery around the concept of work!  (FYI my daughter is an entrepreneur at heart and is enjoying being a freelance writer and social media consultant in Denver as I write this)

We are taught that we must strive for success and be our best, and work hard to get ahead.  Well meaning parents  teachers, and  other authority figures tell us to “keep your nose to the grindstone” and “pay your dues” and “climb the ladder to success.”  This doesn’t sound like much fun to me.  Does this advice motivate you to go out there and get a job?  Surely there is a way to make a living and be happy at the same time, a way to merge work and play.

What if we shift our perspective and start bringing a sense of  playfulness into our jobs?  Wouldn’t our workday be more pleasurable?  Absolutely!  Let’s look at the concept of play.  As in this photo, the children appear to be alive in the moment, are having fun and seem to be exhilarated.  (Considering they are sculptures that’s kudos to the artist.) How can we bring this joy, this sense of fun and being present into our daily work lives?  A good place to start is by looking at your situation with “new eyes”.  Here are some questions to consider:

  • Does your work environment support you or deplete you?  
  • Are you doing work you enjoy and find satisfying?  
  • Do you feel valued and appreciated at work by peers and management?
  • If freedom and flexibility are important values for you does your current work provide these?

Think of play as an activity in which you are fully present, enjoying the moment, feeling free, valued and appreciated by the other players.  Whether you work for somebody else or are self employed there are ways to bring more playfulness into your life.  For starters, if your work environment doesn’t support you, change it.  This is easier to do if you are the boss but even as am employee there are often options to personalize your work situation.  Would you be more comfortable (and potentially more productive) with an ergonomic chair or an office with a window?  How about suggesting flex time or job sharing to balance your work and leisure time? 

What are you passionate about?  Can you create a livelihood doing things you are passionate about?  (See The $100 Startup for guidance on this.) Is there a way to bring passion into your work?  If you work with a team, do you mutually appreciate and value the other “players”?  What might you do to contribute to the well being of co-workers?   What needs to happen in order for you to have more fun at work, to feel energized and yes, playful?  Sometimes it is as simple as shifting your perspective and changing your attitude.

“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.”  Mark Twain

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Fulfilling Work is Like an Easter Egg Hunt

It is Easter weekend and I find myself remembering my children at 3 and 5 excitedly exploring the house for the colorful eggs and other goodies (plastic wind-up chicks, jelly beans in pick plastic wrap and the like) left by the elusive bunny. I loved watching the kids dash from place to place excitedly shrieking with glee when they discovered an egg or foil wrapped treat. The joy in their little faces at uncovering an unexpected goodie was  truly a wondrous thing. Once the more obvious eggs had been located, the process evolved into a more serious hunt. Although the kids would diligently follow our suggestions of where to look, they were most proud and excited about the treasures they discovered on their own.

Finding fulfilling work is sort of like an Easter egg hunt. First you look at the obvious: what your education, skills and training qualify you to do and hope there is a match in the current market. When there isn’t, we need to look harder. Consider: How might your particular set of gifts, experience, and abilities benefit others? What talents do you possess that the world needs? Who needs your talents? This applies whether you are seeking employment or considering starting a business. 

We often fail to recognize that our gifts; things that come easily to us, can be marketable skills. Do you have a green thumb with plants? Are you creative in the kitchen? Do you tinker with cars or bikes on the weekends? Are you a movie buff that enjoys critiquing films? How might your interests, where your talents are often demonstrated, be applicable to the workplace? What are your transferable (non-occupational specific) skills?

I challenge you to look beyond your work history, your education, and your stated “qualifications”. Find those less obvious eggs and put them into your basket, err..search for fulfilling work.

Let Your Passion Fuel Your Work

purple orchids

When you enjoy the nature of your work, your potential for true career fulfillment skyrockets., positioning you for greater success.   In reality, many people are not in “work they love” but in jobs that they need simply to pay the bills. They diligently move through their work week doing what needs to be done to meet the required performance standard.  You know the scenario: hanging onto a job even when you are burned out or yearn to be spending your precious hours focused in another direction.  You slog through your days and gaze eagerly at your weekends so that you can do the stuff you are passionate about.   

The question is, do you even have enough energy at the end of your day, your week, your long stint without a vacation to really enjoy your time off when you have it?  Can you keep working the “day job” week after week, month after month, year after year without something else in your life to energize you?  Probably not.  

One of the recommendations I make to my clients is to identify what they are passionate about and then find a way to spend time on that passion.  To clarify what you are passionate about, try to remember the last time you were really engaged in an activity that brought you joy, made you feel  exhilarated, excited, or energized. The things that bring us to that place of feeling more alive or more in tune with our joy are our passions. They feed us, and give us energy, rather than sapping it away. We all have things we have to do in life that sap energy, so we must balance them with things that create more energy for us.  

One of my clients shared that she just didn’t have enough juice at the end of the day to do anything but go home, eat something and either zone into the TV or go to bed.  Susan is only 24 years old, way too young to be feeling that way at the end of the day.  I asked her to think about the last time she felt really energized in her life.  She told me it was when she was acting in community theater three years ago.  Had she tried out for any parts since?  No, she was too exhausted from working which is why she came to see me in the first place.  She figured she needed a new job.  

Sometimes it is not the job, it is the lack of balance in our life.  Susan needed to get in touch with her passion again.  She needed to “feed the muse” inside, to get that fire going in her belly again, to be excited and enthused about something in her life.  It was quite evident that just talking about her experience in the theater raised her energy level.  I swear her eyes sparkled and she became more animated as she talked.   

She left our session with a spring in her step and a promise to start looking for play auditions.  Within a few weeks, not only had she identified a play she was interested in, she tried out and was cast in the lead role!  Even though the rehearsals required a two hour commute four days a week after work for months, Susan persevered.  The very act of engaging in her passion fueled her through her work week.  I had the great joy of attending her play a few weeks ago and seeing her alight with joy as she masterfully applied her craft.   

The play is now over but Susan is fired up to find more opportunities to act.  It doesn’t need to be how she earns her living, but it needs to be in her life. She does administrative work and thought it was at odds with her passion.  Now she is looking at administrative positions within the arts, media, and entertainment communities.  Who knows, she may find an admin position with a theater company and have an opportunity to expand her role.  

What energizes you?  Identify it and do it!  Who knows, a new career direction may evolve from your participation in YOUR passion! 

If you want some help with this see “4 Ways to Discover Your Passions”.

Work: Labor or Love?

Labor or Love?

Work, is it a labor of love?

Today is Labor Day in America.  It became a national holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland reconciled with the labor movement following the deaths of workers during the Pullman Strike.  Fearing further conflict, the bill was rushed through Congress a mere 6 days after the strike.  Much has changed in the workplace since then.  Now we largely look at Labor Day as the last weekend of summer and the kickoff of the football season, a day off for fun and relaxation. 

If we view this occasion as it was originally conceived, it is a day to appreciate those in the workforce and celebrate employment. I ask you; do you feel celebratory at work?  Are you fully engaged and joyfully expressing your talents and skills?  Do you really like your job? Are you appreciated and rewarded for your contributions?  Do you feel energized by the work you do?  Sadly, I don’t think the majority of workers would answer yes to these questions. 

When my daughter graduated college, she had a hard time being motivated to get that first job.  I asked her what came to mind when I said the word:  work.  She thought a minute and then said; “I get a picture of a sweaty bald guy in a warehouse pulling a huge chain.”  My internal response was “yikes, she views work as drudgery!”  Sadly, I think many people view work from this perspective. (Happily, my daughter now loves her work as a blogger, freelance writer and social media consultant in Denver).

For many people, a job is tied to the idea of being in servitude to get a paycheck.  I’ve had coaching clients tell me they are miserable in their jobs but are locked into the “golden handcuffs”.  They feel they cannot leave their jobs for fear of losing health insurance and other benefits.  I ask them, “If you really can’t leave your work, can you find a way to be more satisfied with it?”

What would happen if you shifted your perception and viewed work as a creative expression of yourself?  How might you bring your natural talents and skills into your work life?  Can you see how your work could then become a “labor of love”?  I believe that each and every one of us can find or create work that is inherently fulfilling.  If you are currently in a job, consider how you can experience it with more joy.  Ask yourself:   

  • What is one thing I can do this week to find more pleasure and satisfaction at work?
  • How can I make the best contribution to my workplace, my co-workers, or my employer?
  • What can I change in my daily routine to make my job more interesting?   

If you are looking at career options, consider these questions:   

  • What am I passionate about?  How might I express my passion through my work?
  • Is my work an expression of me?  Is the work I do in alignment with my value system? 
  • What kind of work would energize me?
  • Who could utilize my natural talents, skills, education, etc.?  Where is there a need I can fill?   

If you can’t find a way to “love the work you’re with” it’s time to look elsewhere. You might consider creative self employment, starting a small business or a combination in income producing endeavors.  Remember you don’t have to do a particular kind or work, you have choice!

“Follow the path of your potential and live the work you love”  –Dee

 

Career Independence

4th of July

Career Independence

As we celebrate the birth of our country on the 4th of July in the U.S., I got to thinking about what independence means from a career point of view.  For many people, the word career equals “full time job” and implies that we will be dependent on employers to derive an income for most of our adult lives.  Unfortunately with shifting economies and markets, long term employment is not always an option even if we chose that route.  Being someone’s employee is not always attractive either.  If you’ve ever considered starting a business or being creatively self employed, declaring career independence here are some things to consider:

What do you love to do that you do really well? For instance, are you a terrific organizer who excels at keeping everything running efficiently and timely? Do you enjoy re-doing closets and cabinets to make the contents more orderly and easy to find? Do you get energized by this kind of activity? If you answered yes to these questions, one of your skills may be in organizing. What can you do with this talent?  Here’s an example: Nancy McKinney launched her business; Successful Organizing Solutions in 1999 and loves being a “solo entrepreneur”. She added some coach training and received certification through BCPO, a professional organization in her field and has turned her talent into a successful business. Whatever you really enjoy doing and have competency in is worth exploring whether or not you could turn it into a business.

Who needs what you have to offer? Once you’ve identified your skills, talents, and passions it is time to determine where they may best be useful. Is there a need for whatever product or service you want to share with others? You may be the greatest cookie baker in three states but if there isn’t a need for a cookie store in your area it may not a good idea to start a bakery. Then again, there are many avenues to market products beyond having a bricks and mortar business. Gail Ambrious took her passion for chocolate and launched her business in 2004. Laid off from her “steady job” with the state, she decided to pursue her dreams and has since become known for “the best little box of chocolates” by the Food Network.

Besides what you are passionate about, think of all the life experience you’ve had, how might that be useful to others? How can you be of service in the world? Bottom line:  who needs what you have to offer?  Answer this question and you’ve identified your customer base.

Is there someone else doing the kind of business you are considering? Identify those people and organizations. For instance, if you are thinking of doing a doggy daycare, see who else has one and check it out. Note what you like and don’t like about their advertising, facility, customer service, etc. How do they get customers? How might you approach your target customers differently? What might you improve on?

Is being self employed or starting a business a right fit for your personality and lifestyle? If you’ve been an employee for years, you may find it challenging to switch your perspective to being the boss.  It can be tremendously fulfilling to create your own business, work when, where and how you choose to, and not have to get someone else’s permission. It also entails self motivation and requires you to be willing to accept failure, learn from it and keep moving your business forward.

 

Dream Careers are Like Butterflies

Butterfly on Yellow FlowerIn our culture, the mass media bombards us with the idea that there is a “dream career” or a “perfect job” out there for everyone. I believe this is true, but for many of us finding that ideal work situation can be like trying to catch a butterfly – it always seems to be just beyond our reach.

You may spend years in school studying to become a ___________ (you fill in the blank) only to enter that career and discover it’s not what you really want – or worse – that you just aren’t good at it.

Some folks chase the money and plan their career trajectory based on what work yields the highest paycheck, but even if they end up making the big bucks, most don’t report feeling they have the “work of their dreams.”

So the question is, how do we discover what the perfect career for each of us is?

The keys to determining what might be fulfilling work  for you are pretty simple:

1.     Identify what work tasks you both enjoy and do well

2.     Identify work tasks that you don’t like BUT do well

3.     Identify work tasks you enjoy BUT don’t do well

4.     Identify work tasks that you both dislike and don’t do well

Here is a video explaining this further:

The challenge is that most people get stuck in jobs where they have several tasks that they do well, but don’t really enjoy. In order for us to be fulfilled at work, we need to be engaged doing things that we both are good at and therefore can be successful doing, but that also connect us to our passions and have an intrinsic value to us. This is what makes work truly fulfilling. By identifying the things above, you are taking the first step toward determining what the best work for you may be.

Bottom line:  you’ll never find that dream job without first determining what you’re naturally talented at and enjoy doing.  You must to be willing to take some risks in following your heart’s desire for doing work you’ll really enjoy.  You may need to take a less than perfect job to make ends meet while you return to school to increase your knowledge or get training to learn new skills.  You may experience criticism from friends, family and colleagues if you decide to “leave the mainstream” and significantly change your career path.  You are the only one who truly knows what that great work will be and it won’t be found in a job description written by someone else.

If you’d like some support and resources to begin this process, check out the exercises and inventories in my free “Discover Your Calling” e-course.  Sign up on the top right of this page.

4 Ways to Discover Your Passions

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


Heart shaped leaves

discover your passions


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,

Dee