There are so many people who will talk to you about Finding Your Passion.
These people, in my experience, tend to dot their i’s with eensy little hearts or smiley faces. In their worlds, Finding Your Passion appears to involve exotic trips, fabulous shoes, wine and botox. Oh, and buff, windswept, sultry people strolling on a beach. And inspiring motivational quotes.
Plenty of inspiring motivational quotes.
I, however, live in a different world and I’ll bet you live pretty close to me, too.
It’s a world where we work for a living and deal with plenty of competing pressures. It’s a world where things change, sometimes at the last possible minute, and what matters is less about the shoes you have on your feet and more about the resilience you have in your heart and mind.
How do you Find Your Passion in our demanding, fast-paced world?
It’s not a rhetorical question, believe me. In just two short weeks last September, I went from being a super-engaged, schedule-driven-by-my-children’s-interests mom to time-on-her hands, working from home middle-aged woman. I even have small dogs.
Yes, it’s true. In two weeks I became a cliché.
Lest you think I’m truly pathetic, let me say that I am thrilled for my kids. My son is engaged in a fabulous one-year entrepreneurial incubator program outside of Boston, and my daughter is in her first year at a really wonderful college.
They are doing what they are supposed to be doing – what I raised them to be able to do – and I could not be happier.
Yet, after years and years of going wherever their sports events were, and spending time on their enthusiasms – hairstyles and the films of Quentin Tarantino, for instance – I have found myself with plenty of time to spend on what I want to do.
Which is, precisely… what?
The first couple of months that they were gone was still a hubbub of activity. I shipped things they forgot or realized they needed, and managed long phone calls processing their new environments. I traveled to visit each of them and devoted time and attention to the logistics around coming home for Thanksgiving, and then Christmas.
But now we’re in the long stretch where no one is coming home for some time. And I’ve even caught them referring to “home” as where they live now.
Which is heart-clenching the first time it happens, and then starts to make sense. Because, they are well and truly launched.
So, back to passion. Specifically, finding yours after a big change or just when you realize that your life is not as fulfilling as you’d like it to be.
The standard question in these moments is “When do you lose track of time?” and that’s a good one. I also add, “When do you feel most engaged and happy?”
Whatever your answer is gives insight into what your passion might be.
But your true passion may lie beneath your answer.
Let’s say you figure out that you are most engaged and happy when you are traveling. OK – let’s go a little deeper, shall we?
What is it about travel that lights you up? Is it new experiences? New cuisine? Observations of differences in cultures? Is it the people you travel with? Is it because you always travel on vacation – away from work and chores?
Don’t say, “All of it!” because that’s too easy. And I am not letting you off the hook that easily.
Nor am I going to start dotting with teeny hearts.
Passion is not about what you do, but how you feel about what you’re doing.
If you figure out that you are driven to travel because you love to observe the differences in culture, then maybe you can also satisfy that passion by making sure to attend cultural festivals in your own town. You could regularly try different cuisines. You could host an exchange student. You could read books about different worlds. You could discover artists from around the world and learn about them.
Because, you see, your passion deserves to be in your life every single day, not just during one big trip a year.
When you live your passion, the world opens up for you. Possibilities become obvious. Connection is easy.
Life feels full and happy. Success is more and more effortless.
It’s pretty great.
As for me, after some deep reflection, I remembered my passions pretty clearly. They’re centered around creativity, mentorship, connecting and learning.
And while I miss the job I was really very good at and completely fulfilled by, I know that the things I am passionate about also fill me up.
So, let’s make a promise, you and I.
Let’s be less about shoes. And more about passion.