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?
I paint and draw and make art each day. I used to write poetry long ago. But I have a secret passion.
I’d like to write country and western songs. I’ve always sung, played piano and very basic guitar.
I just have to find myself a keyboard. The manuscript paper is sitting right beside me!
I love that you have a secret passion waiting in the wings! There’s something exhilarating about an unfulfilled potential just waiting for you to give it your attention. Do it! Just start writing and see where it goes.
Fran, this is so much like the journey I am on. I call myself retired because I couldn’t get a job after Covid, the challenges of being relevant after 11+ years of not working due to 247/365 caring for my Mom, who passed in 2019. I decided to start a blog journeying my path to self-discovery, and developing my full potential. Feelings of inadequacy made me fearful of taking chances, in your words, saying “yes” to opportunities that came my way. This statement in your post really encouraged me to do just that, and not let fear get in the way. At 63 years of age, if anyone asks me what my talent/gift is, I would say I don’t know. During my lifetime I will say I was a jack of all trades, but a master of none. Thank you so very much for being so genuine and encouraging. I will try the, “Say yes to everything!” Please continue sharing your journey. Thank you.
Valerie, Thank you so very much for your comment. Although this can be a wonderfully fulfilling time in our lives, it’s not always easy. Ageism is real, and can hold us back from our rightful place, especially in the workplace. But I know you’re going to find your way!
Regarding being a “jack”, me too. And I’m glad I am. I think it gives us a more varied set of skills to choose from as we decide what’s next.
Please stay in touch and let me know how it’s going. I think we’d find we have lots in common.
I’d love to read your blog if it’s available.
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Love the article. Late last year and particularly this year I started
making concrete moves to incorporate new challenges into my life.
As an introvert it is not easy to enter new domains. First move was to apply for some casual work with a mental health agency I had retired from when the Pandemic hit in 2020.
I was successfully rehired.
Then I looked at my ukulele that had been gathering dust ever since buying it 2 years ago. So, I took four lessons, then joined a ukulele grouo at a local seniors centre. They have a beginners group and I was immediately welcomed. I now play weekly with a larger group. My next move is to join a group that meets once a month at the local library.
In addition I started attending two line dance classes and very quickly became proficient at the steps. I had line danced very briefly years age so I knew I was adept at it.
I also attended a BollyX dance class and learned all the moves of that South Asian style that I had been curious about for quite sometime.
Starting working on call 1-2 days a week started me making better use of my time at home so I started tackling my home office, recycling bags of paper and shredding old personal docs like the mortgage papers on a house i sold 5 years ago. I am making space to tackle a long delayed writing project of a Memoir.
In addition I have just met a lovely man on pof and we have begun dating.
As an introvert, as I mentioned, non of this was easy. I joined the Seniors centre but didn’t do anything for several months; when I picked up the ukulele I took four lessons to get me started. Then I dropped by the beginners group just at the end of their session and stood in the doorway listening. I was invited in and introduced to everyone there, 6 people, and I could see it was a safe
and welcoming place.
On the first day of BollyX, I took my writing notebook to have something to do while waiting for the class to start to avoid the awkwardness of standing around while others greeted those they knew.
This Sunday I will walk into a new group of Ukulele players at the library and join them with some confidence.
And the journey continues.
Your journey is very inspiring. Thank you for sharing.
I’m so impressed with how you’ve overcome your challenges and are seeking out connection as you step out into a new world. I know you’re going to love what you find!
All my best.
Great article! So practical as well as inspiring!
Thank you, Alainnah.
Thank you! Your article spoke to me! I was restless and bored so I followed my interest in nutrition and became a certified nutrition coach. I work with women who want to fine tune their health.
I love to sew and began teaching sewing class at a local fabric store. I am enjoying meeting new people who share my passion and interests. I love what I am doing and I am following my passions in my 70’s.
Thanks for sharing your experience and encouragement. And, I will continue to explore and say yes to new opportunities!
Thank you, Suzanne. It sounds like you’re creating a gratifying and wonderfully full life!