"If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on." - Steve Jobs
Last week, I talked about the behind-the-scenes truth of passion and purpose fueled careers (Missed it? Click here.)
A few of you might have been thinking, well, cry me a river, but I’m stuck in a passionless job and have no idea what my purpose is.
If so, this blog is for you.
I believe we all have passions that serve our purpose. Sometimes, though, we have to do a little digging to uncover them.
I've done my fair share of searching. In fact, I spent a decade chasing a passion only to find it left me feeling empty, unhappy, and purposeless. Talk about sunken costs and feeling lost.
What followed was a few years of dating jobs I thought were "the one" only to find they were simply "good on paper" but not for me. I found myself juggling misfit jobs, and wondering if there was something wrong with me.
There seems to be a bit of a misnomer that we come out of the womb just knowing our purpose...that we’re born and know exactly who we are, what lights us up, and how we want to impact the world. If we don’t know? Well, tough luck...you lost your chance...suck it up and accept the path you’ve found yourself on because that’s just life. Besides, past a certain age, it's just too late anyway.
What a sad, sad story. I don't buy it.
Yes, there are definitely people who know exactly what their passion and purpose are from an early age, which is beautiful and awe-inspiring to witness. For the majority of us, however, especially the multi-passionate among us, that just isn’t the case.
We compare ourselves to the child prodigies and convince ourselves that even if we found a passion with purpose, we’d never catch up. We accept the tale of "that’s just the way it is".
Let me rewind this story for a moment. Discovering what you want is a process.
More often than not, our passions don’t find us, we find them.
In most cases, the universe doesn’t sweep in one day like our fairy godmother and smack us across the face with a passion or purpose. And, really, what fun would that be? There is a beauty in the pursuit and discovery our passions and purpose.
I’ve got a gardening analogy for you…Our passions and purpose are there waiting to grow. It often means rolling up our sleeves, doing a little digging, pulling a few weeds, tossing some rocks aside, and planting a few different seeds. Then we have to tend to and water those seeds with care to see what takes root and blooms. Often it isn’t one single seed, but a few seeds that sprout, because there isn’t one “right” or “ultimate” way, but rather myriad ways we can express our talents, passions, and purpose.
In Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth says, “For many of the grit paragons I’ve interviewed, the road to a purpose-full, interesting passion was unpredictable.” She goes on to share a story that describes “...passion as a compass - that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be.”
Passion is a journey ignited through a spark, not a fire. It’s unpredictable. We find out purpose by following the path the spark lights up.
But we do have to go out and follow the spark. Much as we might wish our lives were a rom-com where fate intervened and led us to our “right” and “true” destination, we have to go out and meet the universe halfway.
The belief that there is only one right way keeps us from opening the door to exploration. So many times we don’t know what we’re passionate about because we haven’t seen it or tried it before. We sit waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike us with inspiration out of fear that we’ll get it wrong if we make a storm of our own.
We learn and discover by doing. I am ALL for mindset, talking it out, and getting clear. But at a certain point, you have to get out of your head and give those thoughts a test run in the real world.
Action will lead you to clarity. Action is the path to discovery and growth.
Today, I’d like to encourage you to take the pressure off of getting it right and see where the sparks in your life take you. Open the door you’re interested in a little wider. You might just ignite your passion and purpose.