“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” ~Rumi
What do you love most?
What is your passion?
I wish I had asked myself these questions early on. It would have saved me years of feeling lost, of costly mistakes, and innumerable failures. I did not have a role model, there was no one to guide me, and definitely no one who believed in me. My early years were traumatic and I stumbled more times than I care to recall.
You see, what most people don’t understand is that passion is crucial to success. Passion is the result of the action we take, not the cause of it. Discovering what we’re passionate about is a trial-and-error process and requires our focus, time, energy, patience and perseverance.
The truth is none of us know exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity.
What are you passionate about? What makes you feel excited when you wake up each morning? Do you feel lost and disconnected with life? Are you still searching for your ‘why’?
Most adults have no clue what they want to do with their lives. They go thru the motions. Even after they finish school and graduate from college, even after they get a job, and even after they’re making money, they move through life as if sleep walking. They change career aspirations often and follow a path where others would have them go. They don’t stop to ask if the path they are living gives them joy or not, if it feels important to them, what they truly care about, what they value most.
Do you have a passion that consumes you? Do you know your ‘Why’?
What do you want out of life? Why is it that you do what you do? If you don’t know why you’re doing something, why do you do it? What compels you to get up each morning?
Being clear about your passion, and knowing your why are important first steps in figuring out your goals and how to achieve them – goals that excite you and give you the motivation and courage to take the risks required to get ahead, to create the life you would enjoy living.
Discovering your life’s purpose requires that your vision of the future be so compelling that you are ready to put in all the effort required towards achieving it regardless of the time and compensation involved. The power of purpose is similar to the energy of light that is focused through a magnifying glass. When the energy is concentrated thus, that same light can set fire to paper. Focus that energy even more, as with a laser beam, and it has the power to cut through steel.
Having clarity of purpose enables you to focus on what matters most with passion and commitment so that every action you take, every move you make, is singularly focused with your goal in mind. It compels you to take risks, stay motivated when the chips are down, and push forward regardless of the fears, roadblocks and obstacles that get in your way.
Your life’s work sits in the intersection of your passions and your deepest values, your talents, skills and expertise, and to a large extent it is what you have to offer the world. Therein lies your ‘Why’, your life purpose.
Here’s a series of questions to help you gain deeper insight into yourself, figure out for yourself what is important to you and what can add more meaning to your life.
1. What inspires you?
The word ‘inspire’ comes from the Latin, meaning ‘to breathe life into’. Ask yourself what makes you come alive? Because when you are working toward goals that inspire you, connect with what you are passionate about, focus your attention on tasks that put a fire in your belly, your world shifts in ways that nothing else can.
You get so wrapped up in that ‘thing’ that minutes turn into hours, and hours turn into a “Holy crap, I forgot to have dinner”! You are so absorbed in your work that all else fades away. It’s not just the activities that enthrall you, but the cognitive principles behind those activities. You grow your impact and influence in the world. It is bigger than any material things you covet, and connects to a cause that is about something bigger than you. At the same time it is also aligned with what you deeply care about. This is a ‘why’ that is congruent with who you really are.
2. Where have you been happiest?
Looking back at your life ask yourself, “When I was experiencing joy in my life, what was I doing?” Close your eyes and picture yourself incredibly happy, what do you see? What do you talk about, share with others, that excite you the most? Get clear on what moves you and gives you most joy. Civil rights leader, Howard Thurman, once wrote, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
3. What are your greatest strengths?
Often the things that you’ve always been good at, your natural talents, skillsets and strengths identify your passions and life purpose. You may be a naturally gifted communicator, leader, problem solver, or you may be creative, and have a natural talent at designing, drawing, or writing.
We rarely aspire toward ambitions and goals we have no natural talents for. When we engage our innate strengths we are able to see opportunities amidst complexity, where we can add more value. And as a result we enjoy more personal and professional fulfillment.
That is not to say you must do work that you’re good at but which you find no joy in, because that is not the pathway to fulfillment either. It is not your ‘Why’. Knowing your innate strengths and where you can add more value, allows you to seek the education and further skills, knowledge and experience to reframe the path that would fulfill you.
4. What will be your legacy?
I was once asked, ‘If you knew you were going to die one year from today, what would you do and how would you want to be remembered?’ I must say it totally freaked me out. But it did cause me to really think about my life in a different way and to reevaluate what my priorities were.
I asked myself, ‘How will I measure my life?’ To stand for what I believe in, and then live my life in alignment with that seemed like such a powerful concept. You see, people who don’t stand for something can easily fall for anything. Finding greater purpose through how you do what you do is the first step because not all of us have the luxury to quit our jobs to follow our dreams and our goals. I realized early on that my passion was not in the ‘what’ I was doing. It was the ‘why’. When we know our ‘Why’ and are powered by a clear purpose it compels us to take on challenges that will stretch us as much as inspire us.
What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell when you’re gone? What is your obituary going to say? What would you really like it to say, and how can you start working towards that today?
One thing is for sure. If you don’t know your purpose then you’re essentially opening yourself up to taking on other people’s values, living their priorities, and their ‘why’ instead of your own. Isn’t now the time to wake up and take a good look at your life? To think of a cause greater than yourself, to imagine a world where you are living your best life, your most amazing ‘WHY’?
When you have a clear ‘Why’, no matter how unlikely, the How will show up. Know your ‘Why’ and make it meaningful.
Your ‘Why’ is the driving force behind everything. And when your passion and your purpose are greater than your fears and excuses, you will find your ‘Why’.
And this I know for sure!
“Nothing is as important as your passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” ~Jon Bon Jovi