5 Steps to Find Your True Passion and Purpose in Life
Rev. Dr. Kitty Boitnott, NBCT, RScP
Heart-Centered Career Transition and Job Search Coach | Possibility Thinker
We often hear the message, "Follow your dreams." You have been encouraged to "Find your passion." And one of my favorite sayings is "It's a beautiful thing when a career and a passion come together." I love this one because I believe it to be true.
We also hear contradictory messages, however. "Be practical." "Get a good job." "Go to school and get a good education." "You can't make a living as a _________ (fill in the blank with actor, singer, dancer, writer, etc.). GET A REAL JOB!"
And many people follow that advice. Their "real job" may bore them to death, but it will pay the mortgage and the kid's tuition, so you "have to do what you have to do."
Ironically, some of the most successful people in the world are those who chucked traditional wisdom. They refused to settle. They stuck with their passion. They allowed themselves to risk everything for what they wanted. Occasionally, people mocked them for it.
Henry Ford is a perfect case in point. Ford demonstrated a keen interest in mechanics as a young boy. He idolized Thomas Edison. He became a chief engineer at Edison Illuminating Company in spite of a lack of formal education. Ford was the embodiment of passion and perseverance. People often mocked him, and his life was full of paradox. But no one can say he didn't follow his passion or that he lacked perseverance.
And more recently, I heard actor and comedian, Dave Chappelle, talk about how he was the first African American male in his family NOT to go to college since slave days. But he could make more money as a kid doing stand up comedy than he was likely to make in just about any other profession. And he is gifted at it, to boot.
Some people today argue that pursuing your passion is a fool's errand. I am not of that camp. I believe that we wind up much happier when we are working where our passion is. I also believe that we make a more significant contribution to the world at large when we can insert passion and a sense of purpose into the work we do.
Of course, it isn't always possible to make that happen. But even if your work isn't exactly what you are most passionate about, it should play to your strengths. A job that is out of alignment with your aptitude and talent will suck the life right out of you. The same is true for working in a job that is out of alignment with your core values. If you have to do things that make you feel out of integrity with yourself, you need to find another job asap.
The real difficulty is often not being able to identify what your specific passion is. It sounds easy: "Follow your passion." But what if you haven't yet determined what your passion is?
Here are five specific steps you might follow to find your passion in life.
Step 1: Dream Big
Everyone has big dreams. What have you done with yours? Did you set them aside because you were told you need to be practical? Did you doubt your ability to turn your dream into a reality? Don't feel bad if that is what you did. A lot of people have done that. They have put their dreams away. They have decided to settle for what they could get instead of going for what they desire.
If you want to find your passion and purpose in life, then you must allow yourself to dream big. Make a list of the dreams you had when you were a kid. No matter how wild or outrageous, write them all down.
Now study the list. Which of those old dreams resonates most with you now.? Which one makes your heart sing at the thought of it still? Which one inspires you most?
Then consider. Is it realistic and achievable? Perhaps it isn't. If you are 50 now and you want to be an NFL quarterback, that may be no longer possible. But is there something else on the list that you dreamed of that might be possible now?
Your big dream doesn't even have to be all that outrageous or enormous. It just needs to be big enough to push you out of your comfort zone. You need to be willing to commit to making changes in your life so you can achieve it. You need to want it. It needs to spark desire and passion in you that is bigger than you are.
Step 2: Set Goals
Dreams without action remain dreams. If you want to make your dream a reality, you need to set goals. Your end goal is what you want to achieve. It is your dream. To make the ultimate dream a reality, you need to set small goals that you can also achieve. As you meet the small goals, you are making your way to the big goal which is the manifestation of your big dream.
Now at this point, I feel I need to point out that if you don't believe in yourself, you might as well save your effort. You have to believe that you can make your dream a reality in spite of whatever obstacles you may face. What if J.K. Rowling hadn't kept writing before she came up with the Harry Potter character? She might still be teaching English as a second language (a job she once had) because she settled. And we would all have been deprived of the magical wizarding world created in her imagination.
Your passion must be bigger than you and must drive you beyond what you think your limitations are.
Otherwise, you will stop when it gets hard. And it is likely to get hard before you succeed. So besides setting goals, you must also have a rock solid belief in yourself. You must believe in your ability to pursue your goals in the face of great odds.
Step 3: Plan Your Way
Once you know what you want and you know what you need to do, it's time to plan. Think about what action you need to take. Consider what resources you need. Can you do this on your own? Or do you need to enlist help and support?
Step 4: Take Action
Okay, you know what you want. You believe you can achieve it. And you know what steps you need to take. It's time to take inspired action. Without action, your goals remain word on paper, and your dreams remain ideas in your head. You must be willing to DO something that will lead you in the direction of achieving your goal.
Tony Robbins tells the story of how he was abused as a kid and grew up in a very dysfunctional family. From an early age, he knew he would have to provide for himself. He is self-taught. He learned everything he could about self-development and the psychology of human behavior. And then he used that education to help other people. Today, it is hard to calculate the number of people he has helped with his books, tapes, and live weekend seminars. He has turned his passion for helping people into a multi-million dollar enterprise. But he continues to focus on the importance of helping people. That is HIS passion. And he took action from an early age to make that passion his life's work.
Step 5: Live Your Best Life
It is no accident that once you take action on your goals and your plans, you find that life, in general, starts to improve. You start looking forward to your days instead of dreading them. When you are stuck in a dead-end job that is not in alignment with your passion, the days drag. They feel lackluster. You are pushing which depletes your energy. When you are working in a job or career that feels right for you, the days fly by. You feel like you are in the flow and your energy increases automatically.
Your best life is the one that gives you happiness, success, and a sense of achievement. It is also when you are contributing to the lives of others. By following your passion, you are sharing your God-given gifts with others. Pursuing your passion isn't selfish. It allows you to share yourself with the world in a positive way.
If you are currently seeking your passion and purpose, try using these five steps to help you. If you need help, hire a coach or find a mentor who can help you sort out what your real passion and purpose is. We all have both. It is just a matter of knowing what they are.
Until next time.
Are you feeling that you may be stuck in a dead-end job? Do things feel off but you aren't quite sure why or what you should do about it?