A few years back, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with my life.
One phase was coming to a close (raising kids, a career in PR), and I was stuck in that netherworld of uncertainty about my next steps.
Frankly, I didn’t have any idea how to go about finding my passion.
I’d been trying to figure it out for a over a year without much success. Nothing seemed intriguing, and the things that did were clearly out-of-the question (ie: become a professional ballet dancer). I sometimes wondered if I even had a passion.
One of my efforts did bear some fruit. After taking several personality and career assessments, I began to see a pattern related to my interests. Counseling and coaching were two careers that kept appearing on my radar screen.
I ultimately decided to register for coaching school — not that I was convinced with certainty that coaching was my passion. I wasn’t. But all clues pointed in that direction, so I finally took a leap of faith. That leap was the launching point for a new direction in my life.
As I went through the training and began practicing my fledgling coaching skills, it became evident that I’d found what I was looking for. I loved helping people and watching them make new discoveries about their abilities and strengths to accomplish things they never believed they could accomplish. Of course, this was what I was doing as well!
When I first began my coaching practice, I had no idea how passionate my passion would become. I would never have guessed that coaching would lead me to so many other passions — almost effortlessly. Since the day I made that leap of faith, I’ve accomplished more than I could have ever imagined, more than I previously believed I was capable of.
I’ve built a thriving business, not just as a coach, but as an online entrepreneur, author, and teacher helping people around the world. If you had told me six years ago that my decision to coach would lead me here, I wouldn’t have believed you. Now I realize how much more there is ahead for me, how powerful life passion is when it comes to making things happen.
If you’re struggling with how to find your passion, here are 40 life lessons from my own journey to help you:
1. If you hate what you’re doing, stop.
Life is too short to suffer through it. Make it your mission to change. If you feel stuck, get help. Everything is “figureoutable” and any momentum gives you hope. Assume that you CAN overcome any obstacles.
2. The minute you seeking your life passion, you’re living it.
Your passion isn’t just a destination — it’s a journey. Enjoy the process of uncovering it. View the search as your passion for right now.
3. Stay focused on the task at hand.
This has been an invaluable lesson for me and my business. There are so many distractions, good and bad. Determine your priority task, focus on it intently and complete it. Then repeat. Stay out of your head and do the work.
4. Connect with other passionate people.
Find people who are engaged in life and want to live passionately. Don’t hang with boring, unmotivated drags. Likeminded people can support you with ideas, inspiration, motivation, fun, creativity, business opportunities, and expanded energy. If you work online, be mindful not to isolate yourself.
5. Play to your strengths, get help with your weaknesses.
Focus most of your time and energy on the things you enjoy and do well. Don’t waste too much time trying to improve areas you hate or simply don’t do well. Find partners, employees, volunteers, assistants, interns, or someone to handle this necessary but unsavory stuff. This will pay you back in the long run.
6. Refine, refine, refine.
Continue to improve on your successes. Make your product or service even better. Respond to changing trends, client needs, and the results of your testing or experiments. Become a true expert in your expertise. Others will seek you out for help and provide additional revenue streams.
7. Find a way to serve others.
Look for the intersection of your passion and a burning need that others have. Build something solution-oriented around that. Not only can this product or service provide an income, but also it’s deeply rewarding to help people with their pain.
8. Never be afraid to ask.
Ask for help, ask for the sale, ask for a promotion, ask for ideas. Whatever it is, have the courage to ask. The worst thing that can happen is hearing “no.” If you don’t ask, you limit yourself and your income because you feel too uncomfortable. Feelings go away. Poverty can linger.
9. Expect some rejection.
Of course rejection goes along with asking, but that’s OK. You can anticipate that. You might also receive unsolicited rejection — for following your passion, redefining your life, or making choices others don’t like. Consider this rejection a natural way of “cleaning house.” Who wants these unsupportive buffoons hanging around? Surround yourself with positive, uplifting people.
10. Stretch to your discomfort zone.
In any pursuit, stretch yourself just beyond what you think you’re capable of doing. If you think, “I can’t figure this out,” try just a bit harder. If you feel you’ve reached your limit, keep going a little longer. If you don’t like the discomfort of hard work, work just hard enough to feel uncomfortable. This is how you grow.
11. Know when to let go.
If you find yourself banging your head against a wall, constantly paddling upstream to accomplish something, experiencing the same negative results from repeated actions or decisions — cut bait and move on. Don’t waste your time on when every signal is screaming, “It’s not working.”
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12. Forge your own path.
You’ll encounter plenty of people who will tell you how to do it. Or you’ll watch other successful people and think their way is the only right way. Carve out your own plan. Follow YOUR dream where it leads you. As interesting as other people’s lives and passions seem, they aren’t you. Forge your own path.
13. Act with confidence.
Yep, you will feel self-doubt, fear, and confusion about your life passion and your decisions around it. You may not have certainty or even clarity that you are doing the “right” thing. All you can do is make a well-researched, thoughtful, informed decision. Then act on it with confidence. Literally “act” the role of a self-confident person, and real confidence usually follows. Action creates results. Inertia creates nothing.
14. Follow passion over money.
Of course you want to make money. We need enough to live a comfortable life. But when you’re focused on your passion, you find work is easy. You have the energy and creativity to figure out how to make money from it. You may discover you don’t need as much money because you’re so busy doing your passionate thing. You don’t have time or the desire to spend on frivolous things.
15. Follow open doorways.
When you’re living your passion, you’ll find that unexpected opportunities appear at your doorstep. Your enthusiasm for what you’re doing attracts others and opens doors to new adventures. Don’t bypass those doors. Go through them, at least part way, to see if something more passionate awaits you.
16. Manage negative thinking.
Negative thinking is an insidious poison that will kill your passion. It becomes a bad habit if you don’t tame it. Negative thoughts lead you down a rabbit hole of bad feelings and self-doubt. Fight, fight, fight against those thoughts. Catch yourself, stop the thought, redirect your mind to something positive, and do something productive instead.
17. Find a mentor.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone to guide and support you as you work on your passion. A mentor or coach can accelerate your success and boost your motivation.
18. Be a trend watcher and setter.
Pay attention to changes and emerging trends in your business or niche. Become an early adopter. Create and promote your own new trends.
19. Set goals.
Goal setting works. Put something down on paper you want to accomplish for the year or the quarter or the month. Write down the action steps to get there. Assign the steps to all of the days leading to your goal. Do the daily work to make it happen.
20. Learn the skills of habit creation.
Goals often require adopting new habits. Learning new habits requires a set of skills. Knowing these skills will serve you for a lifetime. They aren’t hard, but you must know them for successful habit creation.
It helps you in everything. You’ll feel better. You’ll have more energy. You’ll have a better attitude. You’ll reduce stress.
22. Start mornings strong.
Whatever energizes you in the morning, do that first. Tackle the most pressing task right away. Get your day started on the right foot. It sets the tenor for the entire day.
23. Define your values and purpose.
Know what’s most important to you, your life principles. Consider your reason for being — what you were put on Earth to do. You create guidelines for yourself and your goals with your values. You foster motivation and inspiration with your purpose.
24. Prepare for low energy days.
There are some days when I simply have no energy or motivation. I’ve learned this about myself, so I’ve planned ahead and have a list of productive tasks I can manage on these days. It’s better to do something than sitting around feeling bad about doing nothing.
25. Reflect on joy and be grateful.
Don’t forget to feel the passion in your life passion. Step back from your activities and busyness, and reflect on your joy and blessings.
26. Know yourself.
Make self-awareness part of your daily life. Continue to investigate who you are, what you want from life, how you want to live, what you believe, what you’re capable of. Never stop exploring the wonders of you, because you’ll never stop changing.
27. Pay attention to details.
Often it’s the small things, the things we overlook, that can make the difference in good or great, success or failure. I’m more of a big picture person, so I remind myself to look at the small, but important details of my business and personal life.
28. Don’t compare.
Do you look at what others are doing and feel you don’t measure up? If so, resist this trap with all your might. Keep your eyes on your prize.
29. Spend to improve.
Sometimes you have to spend money to be your best at what you do. At first I resisted buying a Mac because my PC was just fine. But someone I trust said I needed to upgrade. They were right. Spending money mindfully can help you make money and be more productive.
30. Study success stories.
Comparing is counterproductive, but inspiration is highly beneficial and motivating. Find stories about people whose successes don’t foster jealously or stir up self-doubt. Study these people and learn from them. Apply what is useful to your passion.
31. Don’t undervalue yourself.
Charge what you’re worth. Ask for what you deserve. Acknowledge to yourself all that you have to offer and step up to that.
32. Assume you can.
Unless proven otherwise, assume that you can do it. Assume you have what it takes. Assume you are capable. If you prove yourself wrong, learn from it.
33. Make different friends.
Find new, interesting, different people to include in your circle. Reach out to people who aren’t in your “usual” list of companions. It will open your mind and allow you to embrace new ideas and perspectives. It’s fun too.
Visualize the successes you desire, the outcomes you want, the goals you wish to achieve. Visualization is scientifically-backed brain work that reinforces any change or action. It changes your brain circuitry and supercharges your actions.
35. Remove energy drains.
Simplify your life and create more time and emotional energy to pursue your passion. You do this by releasing people, things, tasks, and decisions that drain you. You can drop them, delegate, or reduce the amount of time you spend on them.
36. Prioritize experiences over things.
Profound life experiences always trump material things when it comes to happiness, fulfillment, and positive memories. If you must choose where to spend your money, spend it on experiences like travel, connection, and learning.
37. Find daily balance.
When you live your passion, you can get so immersed in it that you forget to come up for air. Create a balance with your work, relationships, fitness, down time, and rest. Practice short mindfulness meditations during the day. This balance allows you to refuel and enjoy your passion fully.
38. Think and learn first, then act.
Before jumping head first into a passionate endeavor, perform your due diligence. Research, study, ask questions, talk with people, and read success stories. It will save you time, energy, and money in the long-run.
39. Cultivate a learner’s mindset.
Never believe that you know it all. Never assume that you have all the answers. Recognize there is something to learn from everyone.
40. Life is process.
There isn’t a destination. Seeking your passion, finding it, striving to make it part of your life, working on it, refining it, experimenting with it, feeling confused, feeling joyful — all of these are part of the process. And the process is all there is of life. What you are doing, right here, right now. Enjoy it!