“OK so I’ve accomplished all these goals; I’m happy in my relationships and everything, but something big’s still missing. What about finding my passion? Have you found your passion? Be honest with me now. I know I’ve asked you before, but do you think it should bother me this much, that I haven’t found mine as yet?”
It’s really a privilege to experience the similarities and contrasts between the perspectives of folks who’ve lived all their lives in a highly developed country, against those from a developing one. There are so many teaching moments, and learning moments as well. Much of it you never see coming.
My immediate thought was, “Lady if you lived in a world where NOT having anything more important to worry about than finding your passion in life, you’d consider yourself to be heavenly blessed.”
Insidious little thoughts like that from out of nowhere can block you from being present with a client. Even if you don’t say them out loud, they DO show up in the energy you present to people. I had to make a conscious effort to send it on its way ever so gently so it wouldn’t protest.
Just between you and I, however, this difference between passion and purpose was showing up for me as well. I’ve had clear ideas about my purpose in life since my teen years. Yet, I haven’t gotten very far, even this late in life. An inner battle raged, trying hard not to make it mean anything.
Doing the work
What I did was, pull out a few of the same tools I use with clients, and did my own work. I’m still on it. Some things you have to repeat regularly over a period of time before transformation sets in. I know it sounds a bit weird, but when one of life’s mental roadblocks stares you in the face, intellectual knowledge on how to process it isn’t the thing that gets you very far.
You still have a human brain. One roadblock after the next will still present itself. You’re still going to struggle while being fully aware you’re not applying what you know. In fact, if you’re not careful, you’ll start using that to beat yourself up some more, making the problem worse.
In my case, the work started with taking stock of how far I’d come. Falling short was not only an effect of not growing enough to live purposefully. The sheer size of the objective had a lot to do with it too.
From last week, you already have a rather dogmatic approach to choosing your purpose. Today’s approach is just a little more right-brained as we compare it with finding your passion. Both can transform lives.
New Purpose-driven worlds
We deserve pats on the back just for cultivating the uncommon practice of setting up a purpose for ourselves. In my case, having grown up in Belize City fully aware of how far behind the entire Caribbean region is. At the same time, however, there are lots of things about our lifestyle that some folks living in the developed world only dream of. The entire lifestyle was so passionate, “finding your passion” would have seemed weird.
Who knows exactly what my contribution will look like? The idea that’s hard to shake is somehow playing a significant role in bridging that gap. The rich experiences I had growing up should be available to the average Joe on a regular basis to kids living in the Bronx, New York, in Jaywick, U.K., or in Ntabankulu, South Africa. Likewise, the material poverty typical of many places in the Caribbean should be a thing of the past the world over.
Looking back, I can see that everything in my life so far has gotten me closer to being able to join others in making an impact. So where’s the failure? Heck, we haven’t gotten started as yet. First, however, personal growth where my productivity and work ethic are concerned is the immediate work I have to do. What about you? What’s the thing your future self tells you that stands between the two of you?
Have you been avoiding it?
Passion vs. purpose
Back in the 80’s I had a passion for basketball. To this day, coach Arnold calls me out for not going far enough on that one. I just liked being with the guys and had no interest in taking it any further. Back then, “finding your passion” wasn’t a thing. We just did cool stuff. Other passions have included Latin dances, oil or acrylic painting, drawing, and fine woodworking, and audios speaker design and construction. I’m still really into the last two.
But my purpose is to help organize and mobilize the resources needed to make a dent in Caribbean poverty. Maybe my overarching purpose is calling me to first get at least one of those passions from “half-developed” to mastery. At least, that’s the excuse I’ve been giving myself.
I think the reason why so many people get stuck with the “finding your passion’ piece in the developed world has something to do with not seeing this as something bigger than life. And maybe the reason why so many in the developing world struggle with purpose, is that they’re too busy just surviving.
Finding your purpose
Whichever the case, chasing after one’s passions in life is a fad that should disappear as soon as possible. It’s far more useful to try identifying one’s purpose. The problem with the concept of your purpose is making the mistake that it has to be this grand, overarching accomplishment where the world sings your praise, bugles blast your project’s coming to fruition, and reporters scramble to get a word from your lips.
Like I said to someone recently on Clubhouse, one’s purpose shows up way more often in everyday experiences. It might show up as a calm, powerful feeling of enlightenment as a toddler grips your index finger. Or you may recognize it as constantly being in flow when doing a particular activity you haven’t really trained that much for.
Or maybe you just look up one day at the clock and you’re surprised to discover you’re the only one still working at 11:00 p.m. It still doesn’t feel like work even though in one day, you’ve done 3 people’s jobs for the entire week, and you’re enjoying yourself so much you utter a silent moan at the idea of stopping to go home and get some sleep.
Finding your passion
It may surprise you to find that finding passions in life also tends to sneak up on most people. For a lot of folks, analyzing it is useless. And yes, I said passions. Humans are amazingly multi-talented, and have a myriad of directions they could get into with equal wonder, enjoyment, and skill to boot! It’s a bit of scarcity, or a set mindset, to think that you arrived on the planet with just one thing you’re genetically predisposed to excel at.
First, you become passionate about something that piques your interest. You don’t have to go looking. It feels more like they find you, but the truth is, your genetics allow them to find you effortlessly. You just need an average dose of awareness, but that’s a tall order if you’re not in the habit of stopping and being silent within yourself on a regular basis.
Then you pursue it for a while and the novelty wears off. But a few things may stay with you to the point where your passion turns into a little skill. At some point, it gets difficult if you want to get any better. I believe the reason is that you have to really work at getting to the higher levels.
Typically, getting past this threshold isn’t as much fun anymore. Like… I think I’m just barely beyond the point of this wall where my dancing is concerned. I’d gotten as good as I could just attending weekly classes. Flowing on the dance floor beyond the basics took actual work, and it wasn’t as much fun trying new stuff and sucking at it. There’s this temptation to just be satisfied with flowing with the basics.
However, unlike your passion for other things, you just won’t give this one up. The promise of the payoff feels too big, so it pulls you along. The thought of giving it all up feels a little like grieving. There’s no need for anything or anyone to PUSH you.
Gradually, I’ve started enjoying the dancing again because the more advanced stuff is just beginning to find its way into my muscle memory. I think it’s the same for everyone as you move closer to mastery. At this point, you’re starting to create your own style on the fly. It informs your entire life and you feel as if it’s always going to be a part of who you are.
That, my friends, is the trajectory of how most people find their passions, and subsequently, purpose in life. Next week I’ll delve into some immediate steps you can approach this with right away. But it’s not some hidden talent or thing they lift the lid and uncover. You almost fall into it, learn to love it, then develop it further… over a long period of time. Then if you reflect on it long and often enough, it can give you clues for discovering that it’s tied to your purpose.
So… Should it bother you?
One problem to avoid is making these concepts more dramatic than they really are. Forget all the expectations society puts around them. Take that journey within. As you do so, maintain your curiosity about who you are, irrespective of age, and you’ll figure it all out.
“No. It shouldn’t bother you if you think you haven’t found your passion yet. I think I know you well enough to say you’ve definitely found quite a few of your passions already. If I were you, I’d take a step back on looking at one passion for now. Instead, be curious about any patterns you see from all the cool things you’ve gotten into over the years.”
That worked quite well for my client and might do the same for you. Her problem was in discounting the many passions she’d already mastered. Once I got her to dream about where she could take it next, she stopped seeing them as valueless girly fun she had to grow out of.
Where are YOUR passions pointing?
Maybe she’ll identify herself and her formidable skills on TikTok, Youtube, or (gasp!) maybe even on the blockchain someday soon.
As for me, I’m still a work in progress too, and I’ll be keeping you posted. What about YOU? If you take just an hour or two with this process, you may have a eureka moment.
Oh! And by the way, if you or someone you know speaks about, or is busy with the whole issue of eradicating poverty for good, we should be more than friends. We all know there’s hellish suffering happening on the other side of paradise in all of these tourist-driven economies. I’m one of those guys who think not only that it’s possible, but that it’s imperative. It’s going to take a whole network of us. Now I’ve an empty nest, I figure it’s time to get serious.