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…
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.
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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