Desperately Seeking Passion? Roadmap Revealed

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Desperately Seeking Passion? Roadmap Revealed

Today’s guest contributor is life passion coach and author, Barrie Davenport. She’s taking on a topic that I’m often asked about (and occasionally rail about) with an interesting, process-driven approach. Enjoy…

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There’s been a lot of talk floating around the internet about finding your passion, both positive and negative.

Some of it has come from me, and I’ll happily take some credit for keeping the subject juiced up. I believe in pursuing life passion — wholeheartedly. I’ll tell you why in a minute.

I’ve seen some very solid commentaries suggesting that seeking your life passion isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. In fact, some folks recommend avoiding the pursuit of it altogether, suggesting it will only lead you down a primrose path toward disappointment, job hopping, and little money.

The thought is that serious people need to be about serious things — things that pay the bills. They don’t need poofy passion. They need to “git-er-done” as Larry the Cable Guy would say. Just push through and do what needs to be done to make a living and create a life. Passion is meant for the bedroom.

Perhaps there is a perspective of life passion that merits disdain. Dropping everything to run off and “do what you love” isn’t possible for a lot of people — for most people — especially in this economy. In fact in any economy, very few people have the cojones to jump from the known and secure to the unknown and insecure. And rightly so.

Flowery language and promises of happiness might make you bright-eyed and hopeful about life passion — for about 30 seconds. But it doesn’t take long for reality to come crashing down on you. It’s not possible to live passionately without disrupting everything, selling your house, and living off of rice and beans.

But is that really true?

I’m as practical and cautious as the next person when it comes to believing supposed life-altering promises. But for me, the pursuit of a life passion is one of the most important I’ve ever undertaken. I have personally met the life passion Buddha on the road, and I didn’t kill him. I embraced him.  In other words, I found my life passion, and I’ve found a way to live it within the context of my existing life. I am far happier and more fulfilled as a result. And I’m not the only one who has found a way. I work with people every day who have recreated their lives so they can live their passions. And they aren’t living on the street.

I think the disconnect between my experience and the beliefs of those who poo poo passion is simply perception. Perhaps the naysayers view life passion as a distraction from the real world, sidetracking you from success. Your passion may get you all jazzed and excited — but it’s probably not a viable career choice. And that’s certainly true if your life passion is painting acorns or writing Gregorian chants. You’d be a fool to chuck it all in order to follow your passion.

But that’s rarely the circumstance. In fact, most of the people I encounter have no idea what their life passion is in the first place. If they did, they wouldn’t come to me for coaching or read my articles about it. They’d be off doing something with their passion — either through their work or otherwise.

Nor do most people have a clue about how to find their passion. When they think about it, their brains turn to mush. All of the fears and doubts cloud any linear, practical thought process that might move them forward. The whole notion of what it might be, how to go about finding it, and how to actually integrate into one’s life is a daunting consideration indeed.

Thus, it’s a lot easier to believe the naysayers. Give up dreaming and get back to work, regardless of how bored or unhappy you might be.

A Process and a Grand Experiment

Finding and living your passion doesn’t mean you must jump from the fire into the frying pan. It is a process and a grand experiment — one which requires, time, patience, and flexibility. I happen to believe that both the process and the experiment are noble and passionate pursuits all on their own, leading one both through and toward a fulfilling life. Not only fulfilling, but purposeful.

Let’s look at life passion as an equation for a moment . . .

Strong interest + practice + engagement + purpose = life passion

  • You have a strong interest in something.
  • You begin to practice it to gain proficiency, and either you do or do not become increasingly engaged in it.
  • If you do become engaged, you continue to practice and pursue it more fervently.
  • It takes on a meaning in your life and fulfills you in ways that support your values.
  • It then has a larger purpose for you.

One day you wake up and realize you are passionate about this something. You love it. It’s part of you, and you will find a way to make it happen come hell or high water.

More often than not, the above-described scenario takes a long time — maybe years. And here’s my point of distinction about life passion.

The process of transformation from investigating a strong interest to waking up and recognizing it as your passion is a passionate experience itself.

The most fulfilling and truly happy experiences of life are those in which we are deeply engaged — head down, hands busy, intently-focused. These are the flow experiences where we lose track of time and enjoy peak creativity and inspiration. These flow experiences happen all the time during the process of finding your life passion.

It is quite possible during this process that you realize the particular interest you are testing isn’t your passion after all. You lose interest or discover some problem with it. This is the point many people fear at the outset, and they become quite discouraged when it happens.

However, you must understand that the process of finding your passion involves trial and error. It requires experimentation and testing. But this is a good thing. It isn’t wasted time or failed effort. From every life passion experiment, you learn vital information that leads you closer to your deepest desires. And you learn more about yourself. And other people. This can be fun — it can be a grand experiment if you choose to view it that way.

These experiments aren’t either “successes” or “failures.” They are all part of the journey leading you toward a better life. In fact, sometimes these so-called failures and distractions can lead you to secret doorways to a passion you never imagined or considered in your wildest dreams.

Would it be easier if someone in authority just handed you your passion on a platter with the instructions on how to live it? Of course — but who said easy was fun? There can be as much joy in the search as there is in the discovery.

If you decide to put your foot on the path to life passion, don’t be afraid. Instead, view the journey as the adventure of a lifetime. Embrace all of the discoveries that await you as essential elements of your growth and evolution. And one fine day, you will arrive at your destination, already filled to the brim with a passion for life. And that’s a great way to begin living your passion.

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Barrie Davenport is a life passion coach, author, and founder of BarrieDavenport.com, a site dedicated to helping people uncover and live their life passions. She is the author of The 52-Week Life Passion Project.

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30 responses

30 Responses to “Desperately Seeking Passion? Roadmap Revealed”

  1. Jenifer Smith says:

    So many things I am interested in – book writing, small business, social endeavors, literacy… the list continues. Funny thing is as I see opportunities to try on some of these “passions” I realize the idea is easy but the work is very quickly too much and just as quickly the passion fizzles. It helps to narrow the list, which I am glad for. I can move on now, focus on more immediate needs like family, which I often blame for getting in my way of the pursuit of my passions! Oh irony.

    • Jennifer, you are fortunate to have so many passions. Perhaps there’s a way to do something that incorporates several of them. Focus is key to getting past that fizzle point. Try to push through it to see if the fizzle is related to things getting harder or a true lack of interest. Yes, it’s funny how family can be our priority but we often see them as “in the way.” :)

  2. savia says:

    I’d love to find my passion. There are things I do well, things I enjoy doing. Some of them I used to be passionate about. I’m not passionate about anything now. I’m tired and uninspired, and I feel like I have used up all my energy. I’ve poured it into things that delighted me, but went nowhere. Next month or next year, that energy will be back, but right now it’s gone. Can anyone tell me how to get it back?

    • Hi Savia,
      The lack of energy and motivation could be from many things going on in your life right now. Make sure with your doctor that it doesn’t have anything to do with depression or a physical ailment. Then find a person or book about something or someone who inspires you. Try to surround yourself with things that bring you joy. Let go of trying to be inspired and just put yourself in inspiring situations. That might rekindle the fire in you!

  3. Scary good timing with this! I just had a deep conversation on this exact topic with someone very close to me and came to the same conclusion; experimentation and a mindset of lifelong learning will lead you down the correct path. I know this is true from first hand experience as I’ve weaved in and out of multiple ventures over the past 4 years, finding out more about myself and what I’m truly passionate about with each experiment.

    With that said, I also think we tend to overthink the question, “What is my true passion and purpose?” Rather than taking action and moving towards discovering their passion. Another interesting take is actually something that Jonathan said in an interview: You don’t necessarily have a predetermined purpose, you have to create your purpose.

    • Hi Freeman,
      I couldn’t agree with you more –on all points! Yes, experimentation and trial and error are part of the passion journey. And action is required rather than staying in your head trying to figure it out. You do create your purpose by putting one foot in front of the other, following your values and instincts.

    • Clare Norman says:

      I’ve seen many people find reasons for NOT taking a step forward. Any step is a good step as far as I am concerned – they all lead forward. But some people need to know that it is the RIGHT step, and that’s what stops them, because they are still trying to work that out in their heads. Like talking things out loud, taking a step can really help us to untangle the knot of thoughts in our head, so we get ever closer to an understanding of ourselves and our passion. Thanks Barrie

  4. Amen, Barrie! My seven decades of deep living have shown me that pursuing our passion, following our bliss, listening to our hearts (or whatever we want to call it)is the secret to happiness, And maybe even to world peace.

    Why? Because when we are doing what we love (and how right you are that it can keep changing) we are *doing love*. And since love is the only antidote to the fear that usually runs us — and our world amuck — love is what we must do!

    But as I, too, noticed during years of coaching others, hardly any of us dares address the question of what we love to do, probably because it requires a deep and daunting self-knowledge. Opening that scary door for people is the job of a good life coach, says I. So thank you, dear Barrie, for leading the way.

    • Hi Suzanne,
      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments and warm words. Khalil Gibran wrote that “work is love made visible.” I so agree with everything you said about this. Creativity, passion, work, relationships, are all love made visible.

  5. Mark Furlong says:

    Thanks so much for that excellent article on passion, work, and how the process itself is helpful and worthwhile. I had thought that most people at least knew what they liked and were passionate about, even if they don’t know their purpose, but I guess you’re right. Many are hesitant to go there because it can be unsettling and challenging. Coming from a faith base, I totally believe God has a purpose for everyone. How awesome it is when people find it and fully live it. Keep up the great work!

    • Hi Mark,
      I’m so glad you liked it. So many people have no idea what their passion is. And if they have an idea, it feels overwhelming to attempt making it happen. A faith-based purpose is wonderful. I’m so glad you have found yours!

  6. I love your formula, Barrie. I think people have a notion of passion – that it’s ‘out there’ – somewhere off in the distance, an unattainable land only the really happy people get to access.

    But you point to passion as a result of practice. Steady, engaged, focus practice with something you love. Passion that comes from doing, not thinking.

    The other great thing about this is that it’s not about having it all figured out. It’s about stepping into something and seeing its impact on you. Letting things evolve.

    This is helpful to me as I step toward something I feel very interested in and engaged in, but have no idea where it will lead me.

    Thanks for this article!

    • Hi Cynthia,
      I’m delighted you liked it. You are so right — it’s about being present in what you are doing. Taking that step forward and being willing to accept uncertainty and the unknown. It can be thrilling.

  7. Lee says:

    Hi Barrie: What an inspiring post! Thank you. Excellent timing. I love the map and I resonate with your idea of perception and process. Yesterday I was reminded of one of my own perceptual blocks by someone: as someone who needs to write, thinking about writing is not doing the work of writing …. Went to your website … WOW … I look forward to reading your e-book. Cheers,

    • Hi Lee,
      I’m so glad you found the post and information useful. Thinking about writing is useful only in the moments before writing when you are thinking about what to write! :)

  8. How serendipitous! I was just working on a blog post *yesterday* about finding my passions and how in each and every case (including my love relationship, as it happens!) it was not a matter of “love at first sight,” but rather a slow, gradual, “wandering into love.”

    I’m passionate about empowering people to follow their own creative passions, but when someone asked me, years ago, what to do if she *had* no passion, at the time I was at a loss for how to respond.

    Only recently, as I was thinking about the reality of how I “discovered” my passions, did I realize that it’s *not* a matter of instant discovery, but rather trial and error, and unfolding over time.

    It’s a process, rather than a sudden, out-of-the-blue “Eureka!” moment.

    Thank you for sharing your passion equation — Strong interest + practice + engagement + purpose = life passion — I love this! Totally resonates with me.

  9. Liza says:

    Hello Barrie,
    Thank You so much for sharing YOUR passion! I have been going through this process specifically since March, and find your words comforting and validating, as there have been days where I’ve wondered if I’m crazy! I know so many people in this place, making the changes to go for their dreams…and I am inspired by you all. Thanks again…Liza

  10. Cat says:

    I thought I knew exactly what my passion was. I rode a horse one day in college (in 2006 to be exact), when I was there originally on a pre-dental major path, instantly changed my major to animal science, and did nothing but surround myself in equine science and activities.

    I graduated with an Equine Science degree, went off to work at numerous horse farms, later at a horse vet as a receptionist, and also as an independent contractor for riding. I wasn’t even very good at it but I kept doing it with the hopes of getting better. And I loved it. Even on the days that weren’t amazing, I still felt “cool” and like I was athletic and had a purpose. It boosted my ego. Then one day, while exercising a race horse, I had a bad accident that made my memory fuzzy, if not gone for a few months, it completely ruined my face (thank god for plastic surgeons), and it made me feel stiff, old, and unhappy ever since. Now I feel passion-less, and being passion-less is so confusing. I don’t know how to find something new, or if I need to wait to see if my passion comes back. A year and 3 months has gone by since I lost my passion, and I wonder how much longer I will wait to find it again.

    I find this statement motivating: “I work with people every day who have recreated their lives so they can live their passions. And they aren’t living on the street”

    Thanks for the post.

    • Hi Cat,
      Thank you so much for sharing your story. How wonderful that you found your passion — but I am so very sorry about your accident and the resulting impact it had on you. I’m sure you have had to spend much of the year healing and dealing with the emotions you’ve experienced. Sometimes grief over the loss of something we love takes time. As you begin to feel better physically and emotionally, you will have the energy to pursue your passion again. Don’t give up. Sending warm thoughts your way.

  11. Sabina says:

    Hi Barrie,

    I enjoyed your article. And I studied math so formulas resonate with me :).

    My passions have been changing along the years, but one seems to stick with me whatever I do, and that is writing. So I’m building from that, and trying to keep focus in between all the fears and doubts we all have.

    I liked what you said about trial and error. It helps to think of whatever you’re doing as an experience that will teach you something and enrich your life, no matter if it works out or not.

    Have a nice day! :)

    • Hi Sabina,
      I think writers and other creatives have a really hard time with passion sometimes because we work in isolation and don’t get much feedback on the process. My friend who just wrote a novel found a writing buddy, and they wrote together for several hours a day. It made it much easier with more accountability. Just keep writing. That’s the best way to be a writer!

  12. fcmalby says:

    Thank you for an enlightening post on a subject that I think has been swept under the carpet all-too-often. It is an important part of what drives us and many people struggle to find out what it is they are passionate about, ending up stuck in careers they don’t enjoy. Life is too short.
    I really liked your equation Strong interest + practice + engagement + purpose = life passion

    • I’m so glad you the post resonated with you. Yes, we have this one life (as far as I know!) so why not live it passionately? Why waste any time doing things we hate?

  13. Rob Collins says:

    Beautifully written post, thank you. I’ve recently been introduced to a similar philosophy by Therese Schwenkler at TheUnlost. I’m still a bit hesitant about starting my own path of experimentation and adventure… but it certainly makes a lot of sense logically. Thanks!

    • Hi Rob,
      So glad you liked it. Don’t feel hesitant. Just start taking small actions in the direction of your dream. As you do, the fear will dissipate. :)

  14. Dennis Leger says:

    So many choices! So little time! Who says you can only have one passion? I’ve lived long enough, Thank God, to have more than one. Passions evolve anyway.

    “Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.”
    –Virgil Thomson,

  15. Cat says:

    Hi! I posted on this blog awhile back about how I couldn’t find my passions, and I just scrolled over it in my Google reader and thought.. I think I’ve found my passion! Before I was sad because I had fallen off a horse, injured myself, changed a career, and felt lost. Now I’m thinking that my challenges with my health and change of career have enabled me to become fit and exercise and run 4 5k’s this year, since I didn’t have anywhere else to focus my time. Through that I think I’ve discovered that my passion is healthy living and wellness! And I had to share.. :)