Articles and Media

Finding Your Passion

by Ada M. Palles

Needle in a Haystack It seems that some lucky people are born knowing what they were meant to do on this planet. From an early age they begin to pursue a dream — to become a doctor, a musician, an artist, or an athlete. The rest of us spend almost our entire lives trying to find our passion — to figure out what we are meant to do, what our talents and skills have made us uniquely qualified to be, what gives joy and meaning to our lives.

So, how do the rest of us find our passion?

Step 1 - Love What You Do

What? Are you crazy? How can I possibly love my insanely boring and frustrating job?

Well, let's face a few facts here. Fact is, you chose your job. You agreed to work there with those people, on a particular goal, for a certain amount of pay, performing certain job functions. Now, the job may not have been as promised, or the job may have changed since you signed up, or maybe you've changed. Regardless of the situation, you're still there, aren't you? You get up every morning and go to work for this company. That's a choice.

Of course, you'll ask, "What choice do I have? I have to pay the bills, I have to put food on the table, I have to save for the kids' college tuition, I have to ..."

That's wonderful. It shows that you're a responsible person. You recognize that there are a number of agreements that you have made — to provide for your family, to pay the rent or the mortgage, to put your kid through college — and that you are living up to your commitments. By the same token, you have to take responsibility for the choice you made — your current job — to fulfill all those other commitments.

It's not that we don't have choices — it's the fact that our choices have consequences that we sometimes don't like. Remember what it was like to be young and without responsibilities? How many jobs did you quit when all you had to take care of was yourself? It was a lot easier to walk away when you had no obligations to anybody else. It also probably made you a not-so-great employee, because you could always walk out on your employer on a mere whim.

Things have probably changed in your life now. You have responsibilities, you have financial obligations and goals — it is not quite as easy to just walk out on that regular paycheck as it once was. We "feel" enslaved — even though the fact is that nobody is forcing you to go to work everyday — you choose to!

Facing up to this fact is not meant to depress you. On the contrary, this is meant to liberate you! Because once you accept the fact that you are acting freely, that you are making this choice, only then can you be free to make new choices in your life. Before, you would say, "I have to go to work." Now you admit, "I choose to go to work." The first makes you feel like a victim. The second gives you power. You may not like your current job, but you now see that it was a choice and that you can make a different choice, as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

Okay, so we've established that your current employment is not exactly your dream job, but that, for now, you choose to stay there. So, why is it important to love my current job?

Four Reasons to Love your Job

  1. Because your attitude will determine the number and quality of opportunities that come your way. If I were launching a brilliant and exciting new company with fabulous potential, I sure as heck wouldn't pick the grouchiest person in the company to come along on the ride with me. I'd pick the go-getter co-worker who gets things done with the uplifting "can't lose" attitude — because I'm going to need those kind of positive-thinking action-oriented employees to launch this company into orbit. People who seek out opportunities with enthusiasm — not dwell on the losses.
  2. Practice. If you don't start practicing how to love your job now, you might be unable to appreciate your dream job when it comes along. Grouchiness is a habit. Its better you tackle it now, sooner rather than later, before it becomes a permanent feature of your character. Even dream jobs have their bad days, dull moments and frustrations. Imagine landing the kind of job you've always wanted only to slip back into a habit of complaining or focusing on minor setbacks. It would be very sad to suddenly find yourself out on the street again, wondering how you lost "the best job you ever had."
  3. It's not the job, it's the worker. This is the hardest thing to accept and to tackle, because it requires working on ourselves — our inner selves. Okay, your job may be the worst job on the planet. Your company may be so rampant with politics and back-stabbing that it is impossible to accomplish anything. Every tool and process may be deliberately set-up to ensure your failure. But ultimately it is our spirit that defines what we do and how we do it.

    What kind of spirit do you have? Do you have the kind of spirit that refuses to be defeated? Do you have the kind of spirit that has faith that you are meant for better things, and that opportunity is right around the corner? Do you have the kind of spirit that keeps you smiling and upbeat even though you're surrounded by negative influences? That's the kind of spirit that defines a winner. Remember, almost every glamorous movie star you see up on the screen today had to pay their dues waitressing or flipping burgers. Nobody starts at the top.

    Speaking of people with challenging jobs, Mother Theresa had a poem hanging on the wall of the orphanage she founded in Calcutta. Part of that poem read: "If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway." My advice to you is of a similar nature:"Your job may be lousy, frustrating and demanding ... love it anyway."
  4. Any job can be made fun. Any job. Anyone familiar with the “Fish!” video knows exactly what I mean. Imagine having a job that starts before dawn, is outdoors regardless of the weather, and deals with one of the smelliest commodities on earth — fish. By the end of your workday, you are covered in stink, fish blood, guts, and scales, and must immediately take a shower before you can do anything else in your day. This truly must be one of the worst jobs in the world. Yet, the employees have a way of making it one of the most enjoyable jobs you've ever seen! If they can do that, you can too!

All of these things are easier said than done. No one is implying that it's easy. Nor is anybody implying that you don't have reason to get caught up in all the negativity around you. But you only have to devote yourself to one cause — yourself. Improving yourself. Why? Because you deserve a better life. And you can start having a better life as soon as tomorrow — if you smile, if you remember that you are embarking on a new adventure, that you are setting your sails towards a course that will take you to a new destination — the destination you want to go to. So, for the moment, you realize that today might be the same as yesterday except for one small thing — you are not the same. Today you have the promise of greater things awaiting you, and you're heading their way just as surely as they are coming to you. And that's no small thing.

Step 2 - The Sounds of Silence

Swell, so I love my current job. How do I find my passion now?

Get quiet. Be still.

"In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth." - Mahatma Gandhi

Chances are, if you're like most people, you live your life in a state of constant background noise. We live in a noisy society. The hustle and bustle of the raucous streets of New York may fill me with excitement when I visit, but it certainly doesn't fill me with a sense of peace. Constant noise, day-in and day-out, can also be damaging to your spirit.

You wake up in the morning with the radio going off — instant background "music" as you shower, brush your teeth and get dressed. The kids are up and yelling at each other over the sound of the TV. We get in the car and instantly turn on the radio, a tape or CD. We almost act as if we're afraid of silence! And I haven't even mentioned the constant chattering we do to ourselves — you know, that voice in our head that never shuts up!

It's no wonder we are so stressed. We don't seem to have one minute of peace and quiet in our entire day. We're bombarded every waking moment with breaking news, commercials and beepers. It's a wonder we all haven't gone mad — then again, maybe that's the problem exactly!

Have you ever turned off the TV and had an overwhelming feeling of relief ... not even realizing how much all the noise was bothering you? If you have, you need a vacation from sound.

Why? Because only in silence will you be able to find the peace and tranquility you need to discover who it is you are and what it is you want to do. It is no coincidence that writers often seek refuge in an isolated cabin in the woods so they can create. Painters retreat to the sanctuary of their lofts. You are writing and painting your own life, and need to find that quiet space to connect with yourself, too.

Take a vacation from noise. Even if you can't afford that cabin in the woods, send the kids and the spouse packing to the Grandparents' house for the weekend, and spend some quality quiet-time alone with yourself. No alarm clock. No TV. No radio. Definitely no telephone. Don't even read, as that will fill your mind with someone else's words. Sit in silence. Meditate. Try to think about nothing at all. Relax. Stretch. Breathe!

Step 3 - Notice!

Then, just notice what comes up. Write down your thoughts and impressions in a journal. Don't force anything. Just notice how your mind wanders, the direction in which it goes.

In the stillness of a day or two spent in silence, you may get some idea of what is important to you, what your values are, what you have a keen urge to do, what you've always wanted to do and never allowed yourself to. Just notice what you think about, and your thoughts will lead you in a certain direction that may very well be the very keys to your life.

Pay attention to yourself!

When you go to the library or to your favorite bookstore, what kinds of books are you attracted to? What selections do you make to browse while enjoying a latte? Notice!

Take classes. Try new things. If you've ever had an interest in gourmet cooking, take that professional cooking course at the local culinary school and see what happens. If it lights your fire, there's a message in that.

Every time you say to yourself, "I love this," or "This interests me," or "That excites me," — listen! These things are pointing the way toward that to which your heart is drawn.

You're on a journey of exploration, of self-discovery. You're uncovering layers of yourself — recognizing the things you really love, the things that make your heart sing, and putting together those puzzle pieces into an image of what it is you really want to do. It's part discovery, part inspiration and part perspiration. But once you discover what it is that you really enjoy doing, the thing that you'd do for free if you had the means, your mind will find the way to make it happen.

Step 4 - Get Excited!

When all the puzzle pieces "click" into place, when it turns into a vision of your future, you will get a surge of something you may not have felt in a long time — excitement! Once the picture comes into focus, a sudden thrill, a sudden rush of enthusiasm will be there to greet it. That's how you'll know that you're on the right track.

Because it will be like a revelation to you — you will experience it as a truth about yourself, that this is what you were meant to do. That this is the path you must take. When you wake up in the morning and you are full of excitement, when you can't wait to get your vision into action, then you will know that you have found your true calling.

That is passion! A sense of excitement, purpose, obsession, and devotion to a dream that is a portrait of who you are becoming. The path may not yet be evident, but you know the destination, and you will have a sense of destiny and peace about it.

"When we learn to say a deep, passionate yes to the things that really matter ... then peace begins to settle onto our lives like golden sunlight sifting to a forest floor." - Thomas Kinkade

Now you need your map: planning your steps, what highways and scenic routes you will take along the way; getting advice on toll booths, construction and traffic congestion ahead; knowing that by limousine or by foot, you have a destination, and even if only one step at a time, you will get there.

Get ready to create your map!

Keeping Your Passion Alive!

How do we keep our passion going? How do we keep our goals and dreams alive for the days, weeks, months and years that may be necessary to achieve them?

Write Down Your Goals

The very act of identifying and writing down our goals and dreams will keep our eye on the vision.

Believe in Your Goals

Believing that you can do it, and will do it, will keep your spirits high, your hope for the future you are envisioning on track, and the ability to do it nourished. You must believe that it will happen, that you will reach your destination.

Visit Your Goals Daily

Visit your list of goals, steps and tasks often — as in, EVERYDAY! Read them from top to bottom, and always jump on the next task on the list as soon as possible. This will keep the dream fresh and the momentum of rolling through your tasks going at a clip!

Revel in Your Accomplishments

Have you ever been so close to a goal you could just taste it? So close that it was almost as if you had already attained it? Like the feeling you have one week before a big vacation you've been planning for the last year, knowing that next week at this time you will be in Tibet, or Bora Bora or Alaska, and you are already savoring the deliciousness of a dream accomplished. That's the kind of feeling that will grow and grow in intensity as you accomplish each task on your list. Every step closer to your goal will be a success, a win beneath your belt that will feed your continuing passion. In fact, don't be at all surprised to feel your passion grow as you get closer and closer. And even after you reach your objective, the excitement and positive feeling of success will fuel other ideas and areas in which to grow into and reveal new goals.

Be Determined

Finally, when faced with obstacles along away, develop the invincible spirit of determination. There will be ups-and-downs. Decide now to commit to your goal, no matter the roadblocks, and that you will, somehow, find your way around them. Determination is a huge key to success, and just remember, the joy you will feel at conquering those obstacles along the way will feed your hope, your sense of being on the right track, and your sense of accomplishment ... bringing you so much closer to your goal!