When I talk to clients about Finding Their Passion and Following Their Path what we are really talking about is Transition.Whether you are “merely” changing jobs within your field, or changing the entire arc of your career, transitions bring up questions. How do I move from where I am now, to where I want to be? How do I make the changes I need to make? What does the path look like? How can I be sure I am heading in the right direction? What if I fail?
Nobody ever said change was easy. Sometimes following your Passion involves pain….it can involve facing your fears….it can mean moving into unfamiliar territory (inside and out). In the Merriam/Webster dictionary, the first definition of Passion reads, “a : the sufferings of Christ between the night of the Last Supper and his death” I am not saying you will have to sweat blood, but at times it may feel like it at times.
And, the good news is the results are always worth it.
Time and time again, studies have shown that individuals working in the field of their Passion are happier, healthier and much more successful. Dr. Barrett Brown of MetaIntegral Associates stated, during a session at the Conscious Capitalism Conference 2013, that the top 2% of leaders in his latest study saw their work as a “spiritual practice” and they were “on average 40% more successful than their industry peers.”
So, how do you start down this path?
First, truly be honest with yourself about what your passion is. Would you “sweat blood” for it? Could you do it over 35,000 times and still have a Passion for it? (see my previous blog post here) This is important, because in many cases, getting from where you are to your Passion will take time and effort.
Unfortunately, most of us are NOT working with our Passion. JRR Tolkien said this best, “Little by little, one travels far.” If it is truly not your Passion…if it is merely something you like, or merely the next rung on your current path…you probably will not have the fortitude to keep moving forward. It will take time and involve moving in bite-size chunks.
Second, it is easier to find your Passion if you are constantly challenging yourself. If you are a lifelong learner, you will be more open to thinking about what you LOVE to do, rather than what you ‘should be’ doing or “ought” to do. Have a Beginners Mind: Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki is quoted as saying, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Be open, both in your mind and your heart, to new things. In doing this you will be more likely to see (and recognize) your Passion.
Third, always be asking yourself the following question: What is my “forsake of” for this next step? By that I mean, simply, what is your motivation? Are you moving in this direction because it’s the logical next step? Are you doing this simply because this is the path you started on years ago and you don’t want to, or feel I can, try to change? Is this next step just the easiest one to take, the “path of least resistance?” None of these reasons will tend to lead you to your Passion.
Everyone’s Path is uniquely their own. For some of us, the Passion is something we buried many years ago, hidden under years of doing what we thought needed to be done. For others of us, is it something we have always been afraid to try. Something we never thought we could make a living at. Have that “Beginner’s Mind”, don’t be afraid to always learn new things, don’t be afraid to try.
And keep in mind that Change/Transition/Transformation, however you want to name this striving for your Passion, probably won’t be easy and without some pain. Heck, merely changing jobs in your current profession is one of the top 6 stressors you can encounter. Really making the changes necessary to Follow Your Passion is not for sissies! (How’s that for an enticing slogan….lol )
I leave you with a poem about my own Path to Passion. I have titled it “Peeling the Onion”
As I begin to peel the onion I find the skin dry and brittle,
It falls off easily in my hands.
It is messy, but cleans up without much effort.
None of this is worth putting in the pot
The next layer of the onion is harder to peel.
I make a small cut to break it loose.
Some of the juice sprays across my fingers,
I smell the sweet odor beginning to rise to my nose
The scent brings a smile.
I throw it in the pot.
The third layer is harder still to dislodge,
A longer cut is necessary.
My fingers become wet with the juices,
And the odor stings my eyes a bit.
I begin to notice tears.
I use my knife to place it in the pot.
With each layer of the onion I peel away
It is harder to find a place to hold on to,
Harder to distinguish one layer from another.
The odor is now a smell and it becomes pungent.
At times, it is impossible to see through the tears.
I scrape the pieces into the pot.
The layers, never ending, become more compressed the farther I get to the center.
The juices run deeper and my hands get messier.
I have to stop from time to time to clear my eyes, wash my hands.
My eyes are red from the mixture of onion and tears.
It is hard to see the pot and I spill some before getting it all in.
I begin to wonder if this work of peeling is worth the effort
But then, I become aware of a new odor.
One very complex,
One very warm and welcoming.
It is comes from the stew that the onion is now a part of,
Each layer now seasoning the entire pot
Making the taste richer, spicier, more robust
This stew of my life tastes better than before.
So I pick up the onion once more
And begin to open the next layer
And more tears come.