Do you wonder if you will ever find your "passion"? Or do you believe that only happens to others?
Passion is one of the most exciting and mysterious qualities within you, which, when you're connected to it, acts like a mysterious guiding force in your life.
So how do you know where to look for it?
We hope if we sign up to this course or read that book our passion will magically show up. Well that may work for a select few.
But for most of us, it's a far more subtle process ... like an underlying current that's so much a part of you it never occurs to you to look there.
The good news is...
Your passion pursues you - it gives you hints through your feelings
You may just be looking in the wrong place, or haven't yet recognised it for what it is. Or maybe your mind (and ego) has more sophisticated ideas for the direction of your life and your passion has until now been bypassed for comfort, predictability and status.
The best way I can explain how passion works is by sharing how it's played out in my life.
Passion first showed up a decade ago, when my kids were in nappies. Of course I didn't recognise it at the time - it was cleverly disguised as unhappiness and disillusionment in the corporate job I'd been doing for 15 years. Suddenly, I needed to find work that was meaningful.
Seeking meaning in your work and wanting to make a difference is a big hint that passion is close by.
My first clue that a life change was imminent wasn't a big bang moment... it was an increasing dissatisfaction with my legal career, a values conflict between having young children and working long hours, and a strong persistent curiosity in what else I could do.
The longer I ignored this conflict inside me, the more intense it became and the more uncomfortable and unhappy I felt within my life. I became curious about counselling, so I did a telephone counselling course to check it out.
Inner conflict is a symptom of being out of alignment with yourself.
As a newly trained Lifeline telephone counsellor I spent a few hours on Sunday afternoons talking to people across Australia about their struggles in life. I fell in love with humanity, and my heart broke wide open with the pain it's in.
I wanted to make sense of life. What's the meaning of it all? Why are we here? What's the purpose of our lives? Why do people hurt each other? Why are the rates of anxiety and depression so high? Could we be collectively suffering from a lack of soul in our culture?
These questions propelled me on a decade-long quest to understand life on a deeper level than what I'll be making for dinner tonight.
I left my corporate job and began formal studies in counselling, and the inner conflict that had plagued me for months disappeared.
I started up my own counselling practice supporting women through their own transitions which I have worked in up until recently.
Late last year, another life change was brewing. I began to feel conflicted about the work I was doing and the feelings intensified whenever I tried to reason them away or ignore them. So I slowed down, paid close attention to my emotions and asked myself questions until the answers became clear.
Gradually I recognised I was being pulled in a new direction. With the same burning desire to help others but through a different form. So with my heart in my throat I stopped counselling. And again the conflict disappeared.
You have to be willing to close one door for the next door to open.
I'd always assumed that counselling was the final destination. I now understand that following your passion is not a one step mission.
If only it was that easy!
Your first step on a new path is rarely the destination.
After a couple of months of deafening silence, fearing I'd made the worst decision of my life, I became interested in the craft of writing. I did a creative writing course and then a copywriting course. My heart came to life again. I suddenly wanted to write, every day, and it felt urgent. Passion blazed through me every time I sat down to write. I was inspired to start a blog to empower women.
My story ends with a bookshelf that a friend recently gave me on which I placed every book I had ever bought and devoured over the past decade on human potential, psychology, spirituality and transformation. As I stood staring at five shelves of floor to ceiling jam-packed books about people and how they tick, it hit me just how enormous my passion is.
And that's when I saw three of the main threads of my life - counselling, reading and writing - weaving together in an exciting new way. A way that I hope to share with many people.
And here we are.
So where do you start to find your passion?
As a first level exploration, take a look around your house. Notice the things you collect, what you love, your interests, the topics you read about. What you'd love to learn more about. Look at the activities that you love to do.
Are you crazy about clean food? Decorating interiors? Creating systems of organisation? Fitness? Maybe your passion centres around people. What topic could you talk about for hours on end?
Passion is so deeply a part of you that when you do recognise it you'll be shocked it's been so close, yet elusive.
Start with what you have, where you are.
Ultimately I don't believe you can force your passion to arrive. It shows up en-route whilst you're living your life, taking action on the things that interest you and seeing where they take you. Your job is to pay attention to the clues via your feelings and reactions and keep following the threads.
Passion is not a product of the mind - it's a feeling in your heart.
Be willing to try new things, often. Treat it like a big playful experiment. And notice if what you're doing lights you on fire, is just so-so or ties you up in knots.
It's all information.
Become an avid observer of your own life and you will see the clues.
Do you have a passion that's taken you by surprise? I'd love you to share in the comments below. And please feel free to share this post if you think it might inspire others.