I’ve signed up for a motivational workshop with Matthew McConaughey. No, I’m not embarrassed to say so. I find him charming, engaging and a good model of how to embrace life with exuberance and focus.
In preparation for the workshop, participants were asked to introduce themselves and share what they expected to get out of it. There were many responses that included the word passion, and nearly as many from those lamenting they had yet to find their life’s passion, not having any idea what it might be.
It got me wondering, how does one figure out where their passion lies and for what they have an innate talent?
I feel somewhat qualified to comment on this topic having retired almost a decade ago, satisfied I’d accomplished my professional goals, and completely out of ideas when retired life turned out to be far too routine, uninspired and lonely.
I found myself enmeshed in a social life that lacked substance, surrounded by women who were content to work out, shop for shoes, and drink themselves numb over lunch by the pool. That was not for me, and I quickly became restless, yearning for something more.
My state of malcontent manifested itself in a case of free floating anxiety that demanded my attention, so I went into therapy seeking answers. And although that did help me frame my reality and provided ways to quell my negative emotions, what really led me to the life I have now, was striking out in all directions at once.
I read about Shonda Rhimes, the author of The Year of Yes, who for one year said yes to everything. It was just crazy enough to intrigue me, and I made a commitment that I would say yes to my own opportunities just to see what would happen.
I gave up my attachment to the life I was living, tucked my ego away so I could afford to do some things badly at first and took risks without letting the word ‘no’ creep out before I had a chance to say ‘yes’!
The change happened pretty quickly, quicker than I expected, and it was very fun, doing new things I never thought I’d enjoy. But it all got a little more serious when a friend called asking if I’d be interested in working occasionally as a chef at a charming B & B near where I live. I’d owned a restaurant years before and still enjoyed cooking and entertaining so I felt fairly confident I could do it. So, as I had promised myself, I said yes.
It was a wonderful experience that engaged my creativity, introduced me to interesting people from all over the world and gave me a sense of accomplishment. I’m still their part-time chef, eight years later. And I am completely in love with the job, the place and the people I work alongside. Being a chef is now one of my passions.
One of the other ways I resolved my anxiety was through writing. I wasn’t sleeping well, waking up around 4 am every morning, just lying there, falling prey to my chaotic and intimidating inner voices. So, I started getting out of bed, wrapping myself in a warm shawl, taking a cup of chai to my favorite spot under an eastern facing window, to try to write out what was troubling me while watching the sun rise.
I didn’t intend to share anything with anyone. It was just my way of drawing out into the light what was swirling around in my mind so I could make sense of it. It worked. It took months of sitting there each morning, allowing my most private thoughts to immerge and being brave enough to face them, but I began to understand myself and how I could still live my best and most vibrant life as a mature woman.
My writing improved with practice and morphed into personal narrative and essays based on the topics I was exploring, using my own experiences, worries and newfound joy as inspiration.
One day scrolling Facebook, I came across an essay on Ladies Pass It On about living your best life after 50. After reading it, I realized I had written similar words of my own and on a whim, I sent a message to the publisher of the site submitting something I recently wrote. Within minutes, a response arrived saying they would love to publish my piece!
I began to share my work with friends, established a writer’s Facebook page, and joined a writer’s group. Soon, I was reading my work publicly, publishing on more websites and in print, producing a blog and ultimately became a content provider for numerous sites, like Sixty and Me, focused on modern aging.
I had truly found my passion, writing about this era of life in hopes that other women would find my words relatable and inspiring.
So based on what I learned from this experience, here’s what I’d suggest about how to find your passion.
I truly believe all the answers are already there, waiting for you. You just need to slow down, open your mind and pay attention to find them. So, sit in silence, take a walk in nature or take a drive on a back road, whatever relaxes you and gives your mind a chance to wander.
Pay attention to your emotions, notice when something piques your interest, ignites a spark, excites you; those are the things worth pursuing. Devote your time and energy to exploring what has potential. Give the spark a chance to catch fire.
Be brave, find your confidence and take the risk. It may not be your life’s passion, but it could lead you to what is.
I’ve written nearly every morning for the past eight years, and I’m a far better writer for it.
Take the next logical step in that direction. You don’t need to know where the journey ends to get closer to the destination. Just keep going.
If you hear a knock at the door – open it; if it looks appealing walk through. You can always change your mind if it’s not what you want, but at least give it your attention long enough to find out.
Tell people what you’re doing, make your new found passion more real by saying it out loud. This was hard for me, but the change it brought to my life was too dramatic to understate. Introducing myself as a writer, telling people about my work and making connections with everyone who seemed interested, not only brought me more opportunities to get my work out there, but it helped me comfortably identify with the woman I have become. Be proud of what you’re doing and don’t be afraid to tell others about it.
Keep looking. Stay open. Let your imagination guide you. I love what I do right now, but that doesn’t mean I will still be doing it in 10 years. I’m open to whatever comes next.
Passion isn’t a limited commodity, there’s plenty more available, I just need to watch for my next spark.
Have you taken a passion class? Where do you look for opportunities to find your passion? Do you think there’s only one life passion? What habits have you developed to embrace new opportunities?