In a recent survey, I asked my readers what they most worried about so that I could address those topics on Live Bold and Bloom. There were lots of different answers phrased in a variety of ways. But most of the worries boiled down to this: “I don’t feel passionate about anything. How do I find my passion?”
Is this you? Do you feel passionless — as though everything you do is a shade of dull gray?
Is work boring or empty, or just plain awful? Do you lack adventure and fun in your life? Do you feel stuck but have no idea how to get unstuck?
This was me for a long time, and from all appearances I had (and have) a great life. A wonderful family, beautiful kids, a nice home — blah, blah, blah. But something pivotal was missing for me, something that would make me want to jump out of bed in the morning rather than negotiating with myself for ten more minutes of sleep.
I felt empty because I wasn’t great at something, nor did I feel really enthusiastic about anything. I also felt like it might be too late for me — that I was too old to start something new.
In spite of those negative voices in my head, my spirit kept telling me that I did have something valuable to offer the world, something that was fulfilling and joyful and gave me a reason to jump out of bed. And guess what? I did find my passion. I became a coach, a writer, and a blogger. My passion has become helping others find their own!
A life passion isn’t something that drops on you from the heavens or appears from thin air. Discovering your passion is a process of self-discovery and detective work. It requires stripping yourself bare and examining the “real you.” This is the you without limiting beliefs, old wounds, ego-based pursuits, and fear.
If you want to begin today to bare your true self and reveal your own passion in life, here are 15 small actions you can take to get started:
1. Shift your thinking. If you believe, like I did, that you aren’t great at something, or you don’t feel excited about anything and therefor have no passion — then release that notion. If you believe that you are too old, reject that falsehood. Those are excuses which will keep you stuck.
2. Become aware of joy. Get a small pocket notebook and keep it with you. Keep track of the times when you feel happy and fulfilled. What are you doing when you feel good? Write it down in your notebook. Pay attention to what feels good to you.
3. Pinpoint the major drag. What’s causing you the most frustration ? Your job? A relationship? Your leisure time? A general lack of purpose? Isolate the primary cause and the elements of it that bring you down.
4. What were your dreams? When you were younger, or even now, what did you dream of being, doing, achieving, discovering? Write those down in your notebook. Dredge them up and reignite those dreams.
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5. Acknowledge your skills. Maybe you aren’t a virtuoso at something, but you have many skills. You may not recognize them as skills, but others do. Ask your friends and family what you are good at — no matter how small. Make a list of your skills, and make note of the skills you really enjoy.
6. Let go of shoulds. Many people hold themselves back from happiness because of the word “should.” I should stay in this job because I can’t find a better one. I should become a teacher because my parents want me to. I should not try something new because I’ll look foolish. Dismiss this word from your vocabulary while on your passion search.
7. Try something new. Anything. Go for a weekend trip to a new location. Take a class on bird watching or painting or dancing. Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know well. Shake up your life a bit. Peep out past your current existence. It will broaden your perspective.
8. Be a voyeur. Investigate someone else who is living an amazing, passionate life. Check out Chris Guillebeau, Steve Chandler, Danielle LaPorte, Carolyn Rubenstein, Mary Jaksch, Leo Babauta, Gretchen Rubin, and Farnoosh Brock. These are all regular people who have learned how to live passionate, adventurous lives.
9. Unlock your past. If you have something holding you back, an old trauma or past anger, do something about it, or you will undermine your efforts at passionate living. How can you live with passion when you have a hole in your heart? Go to a counselor or other helping professional and heal the past so you can create your future.
10. Define your values. What is important to you? What values define you? Your passion must be centered around your primary values so that your life reflects who you are.
11. Sketch out a vision. It’s two years down the road. Who are you now? What are you doing? Start sketching a vision for yourself, as though you have no limitations on who you can be or what you can do. Just pretend for now.
12. Research. Start to create a little curiosity and interest in possibilities. Look online at other careers, or adventurous travel, or classes in basket weaving. If you’re single, check out eHarmony or Match.com. What do you have to lose?
13. Consider an education boost. You don’t have to go back to get your MBA to change careers. There are many certification programs that train you to begin something brand new. Check this list of programs. If you have the time and money, then go for the MBA!
14. Weigh your priorities. Money is often the factor that holds people back from their dreams. If I had to choose between a lot of money but living in mediocrity or living with less money but feeling happy and fulfilled — I would choose the latter. How about you? If so, decide the least amount of money you and your family could live on, and work from there. You might have to move, scale back, live lean. Is it worth it to you?
15. Keep trying. The process of finding my passion took a couple of years. You may have to try a few and eliminate a few things before you discover what feels great. It may creep up on you rather than knocking you in the head. Have patience. Keep digging.
You do have a passion, but you can’t wait for it to come to you. You have to go find it. Actually, you have to uncover it because it’s already with you.