If I answer honestly it’s usually always me. Fear is my worst enemy keeping me from pursuing my dreams.
A friend recently recalled a day when a life/career coach facilitated a workshop on finding your passion. The coach asked a group of women to go around in a circle and each announce what they’re most passionate about. Many responses indicated apprehension at having to share such personal information albeit with a group of people that might judge. Most women explained their passion prefaced with “Oh I don’t really know but..” or “I’m not really sure I have any idea.”
The second part of the exercise challenged the women to take the same question and instead reflect on their answers by writing silently for a minute. The second round of shares indicated a startling clear truth: each person intuitively knows their passion. Sometimes it’s just scary to say what your dreams are out loud, especially if they seem incredibly daunting.
Think about what you would do in a heartbeat if you had a day to spend doing anything your heart desires–without money, responsibilities, peer pressure or validation in the mix. What makes you happy and fills you up with purpose and joy? What are you doing when you feel like you’re in the right place and in tune with the world around you? When you’re in that place look no further because it’s likely you’re doing what you’re meant to do. You have arrived.
Now the question remains of just doing it. Maybe you know that working with others in a volunteer or non-profit capacity is what fills you up but you’re afraid that starting at an entry level non-profit position won’t provide enough for you to survive (trust me, I’ve been there). Sure, that’s a possibility for the short term but be hopeful. If I’ve learned anything it’s that doing what you’re meant to do can make difficult work look and feel easy while others might look at you wondering how you do it.
If you’re in the groove and dedicating yourself fully to your passionate ambition, trust that you will be provided for immensely, I promise. Trusting your instinct is so hard, but once we practice doing it, it becomes easier. You might eventually start to remember that most times you have all the answers you’re looking for. You’ve known them all along.
Why is it cool to be a do-gooder? I’m learning more and more that I am drawn to people who do good. Not just in their charitable pursuits but in their everyday lives and businesses.
What are you doing good? What is your company doing to give back? What can you do differently each day to give something that was given to you away to help someone else? I don’t mean in the material sense. I’m talking in the wisdom sense. What’s an important lesson you’ve learned that changed you and how might you share that with someone else to help them in turn?
For me a big lesson I learned rather recently is that the desire to be seen and recognized (validated really, let’s be honest) is never going to be fulfilled by a job, a title, a relationship, friendships or what city I live in. The validation I’ve (sometimes desperately) always sought after can only come from within. This might sound obvious to some but to me it came as a groundbreaking maybe even earth shattering revelation.
I learned that I am the only thing ever in my way, the only entity preventing me from fully enjoying the present moment–which is all I ever really have anyways. I constantly try to make sense of where I am based on regrets of the past and worries of the future. But maybe I just don’t know and won’t ever know the answers I’m looking for. There is relief in accepting that truth.
Since none of that stuff really matters validation wise anyways, why not spend time with people you learn from and people who help you grow? I am drawn to givers and do gooders precisely because of their intrinsic air of growth and change. It’s impossible to hang around movers and shakers of the charitable variety without feeling inspired and pushed out of your comfort zone into evolution and through the fear that comes with treading the unknown.
They say some change is slow, which I guess gives you time to savor it. That’s what I’m working on lately anyways, I don’t want any more of my life to pass me by as I chase the future and try to mitigate the past. Everything is happening as it should and it has been long before my time. It’s my turn to sit back, relax and enjoy it as it all unfolds. Doesn’t hurt to do good and help wherever I can along the way.
I recently came across an article in Fast Company about how to “Find Your Passion With These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions.” I’ve since thought about all the questions the article raises and want to expand on some of the ones I found most meaningful. My favorites to explore include:
- What am I doing when I feel most beautiful?
- What are my super powers?
- What did you enjoy doing at age 10?
- What are you willing to try now?
- Looking back on your career, 20 or 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished?
The guiding questions help reaffirm my recent decision to pursue something I’ve always felt a calling towards, but didn’t necessarily have the courage to fully pursue. The more freedom I get from the routine I was in for many years, the more I get in touch with how deeply ingrained so many old ideas are in my psyche. For most of my life I had a calling and passion for social justice, helping others and working towards ideals that were deeply important to me. I believed in equality and equal opportunity for all, especially in terms of education and economic sustainability. After graduating college and following my lifelong dream of living in New York City, I quickly found that working in a non-profit like I had always planned wasn’t going to provide enough support needed to sustain a livelihood in NYC. It made me wonder, what about all the other people I grew up with who wanted to help people and work in the social sector? How did other people do it? Did they succeed?
Back to the questions that got me thinking about this in the first place. I feel most beautiful when I am helping others and truly fulfilling what I believe is my real purpose: to listen, facilitate organized communication and help translate ideas into tangible action. These are my superpowers. I can connect with almost anyone and really hear what they have to say. It seems like I have a unique ability to communicate and build bridges with a broad array of people, across different industries and backgrounds. When I was younger I used to nerd out making birthday cards and other art projects for hours on end after school. I loved art so much but not just for the sake of creating art for my own enjoyment–I always wanted to make art for others’ to enjoy. Deep down I always had a powerful drive to create. So now I am willing to revisit this part of me that feels like it was neglected for quite some time. I got caught up on a path towards stability, adulthood and what I thought was going to lead me to the freedom I thought might come in the form of finances.
You’ll never know until you try. That’s what I keep telling myself and the funny thing is that I really believe it. You might think I’d feel fearful about trying out this new path, but I don’t at all. As soon as I became available to pursue new opportunities as an independent freelancer, new possibilities seemed to magically find me without too much effort from my end. It feels like an uncanny alignment is happening in which the universe wants me to follow this path and is providing in return for my efforts, however small at first. Twenty or thirty years from now, regardless of where I am, I want to look back at say “I tried my best” and I will hopefully feel peace in knowing I gave it my all and didn’t leave an open possibility for what could have been. Regardless of what I will have accomplished by then, I want to know that I accomplished enough in just trying to make something of myself and follow my true calling as opposed to falling into the typical path I can easily go back to marked with security and financial stability–the things I thought might set me free. I can always return to that, but now is my one shot towards following another path where I can honestly admit, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. There is something beautiful about not knowing and just simply trusting instead.