A Passionate Life
By Dr Peggy Marshall
“Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”— Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s February-a month associated with love and passion. I want to focus this month’s blog on doing what we love. I have worked with clients who are extremely successful, yet are not doing what they love. This seems counterintuitive because most of us believe that if someone is successful that person must love what they do. This is not always the case. Tama Kieves in “This Time I Dance” talks about her own evolution into doing what she loves. She was a very successful lawyer yet found herself lamenting to a friend that she wasn’t sure she LOVED being a lawyer. Her friend asked “If you are this successful doing work you don’t love doing, then what could you do with work you love doing?” I think this is a great question for all of us as we connect the word love with work.
The idea that we can get paid for what we love doing can be somewhat unsettling for us. It might feel like loving what we do and getting paid for it is out of reach. In fact, the pure definition of the word work contains; a place of employment, the effort expended on a particular task, or one’s occupation. Missing from the definitions is anything about enjoyment or love of what one loves doing! This may require a minor shift in your thinking.
A good exercise to move you into what you are passionate about is to craft a statement about your purpose in life. Many of you have worked for organizations or volunteered for organizations that have vision and/or purpose/mission statements. Individuals have a mission/purpose as well- although we don’t always take the time to develop it fully and/or state it clearly. Your purpose becomes your North Star-it guides you by helping clarify what’s important to you in order to align your actions with your purpose.
Many authors tell us that finding our purpose is a discovery not a goal. When we try to make our purpose goal directed we risk losing our joy, passion and fulfillment. Our purpose is not necessarily what we are naturally good at-rather it is what drives us. It’s how we show up when we are passionately engaged in activities that energize us rather than those which are obligatory. Living through our purpose both releases energy and frees us up to new energies.
The Human Performance Institute offers a number of questions to explore when crafting one’s life purpose including:What legacy do you want to leave behind?;
- How do you want to be remembered?;
- How do you want people to describe you?;
- Who do you want to be?;
- Who/what matters most to you?;
- What are your deepest values?
Now that you have begun to think about your purpose/vision for yourself, you can begin to imagine how you might connect that purpose to your “work”. Let’s start with that vision. Did you know that high achievers have bigger visions? They have the perspective that anything can happen-so they let themselves dream big. You can too!
How do you begin to make your vision real? Some of my clients create vision boards-that is they cut out pictures from magazines that represent their dreams. They keep these boards visible so that they can see them every day and maintain focus on what’s important. If you don’t have time for that you can write out your dreams on post-it notes or create them on your computer. Whatever you do, you want to be able to look at your dreams daily.
Next, who do you know that does the “work” you feel passionate about? What do their jobs entail? Do you need to learn more, build competencies, or practice the required skills for the role? A great exercise for finding more about different roles is to interview people who already have the role. Ask them how they got into their role, people you could meet to network about the role, and any preparation you might have to undertake to be considered for the role.
What holds us back from living into our passions? Cheryl Richardson’s book, “Take Time for Your Life” (www.cherylrichardson.com) gives us some insights into these obstacles. She believes that people face seven common obstacles that prevent them from living their best life. The list includes; difficulty putting self first, a schedule that does not reflect priorities, feeling drained by people or situations, living on adrenalin, lack of a support community, and putting their spiritual well-being last. As a coach, I not only help clients think through what they want to achieve, I also help them remove the barriers to their success. Look through the list and decide if any of the barriers apply to you and then think through how you might overcome the barriers in order to live more passionately into your own life!
This month, I encourage you to think about how you might connect what you love doing most with what you are paid to do! Notice what brings you joy and invite more of that into your life!
To Your Success!