Many people don’t have a clue – like the highly paid (and recently laid off) professional who came to me recently, looking to answer just that question. She had spent half her life in her now-former profession, not because she really liked it, but because the money was exceptionally good.
And now here she was: No job, no idea where to go from there – and possibly most unnerving of all – no feeling of passion, no notion of what gets her out of bed in the morning.
It’s a sad but fairly common occurrence, especially for those who have entered their 50s, who take a long look at their lives and wonder, “Is this it? Am I where I want to be?”
What do you want? People will either rattle off a memorized, meaningless litany of things they are supposed to want – like a million dollars, a big house on the water, an attractive mate, a well-paying job – without even thinking about it.
“Am I allowed to want things for myself?”
Or they get that stricken, half-guilty look that says, “Am I allowed to want things for myself?” Women, in particular, suffer from this, as they’ve been conditioned to be people who help others rather than seek what they want for themselves.
That last question may be the easiest of all to answer. Yes, indeed, you ARE allowed to want things for yourself – and the more passionate you are about those things, the more likely you are to get them.
Where it gets tricky is figuring out what your passion is.
The first step is to make a list (I love making lists!), stream of consciousness, of what you want. Don’t think about it and don’t worry about putting it in any particular order. Just write down everything you want.
Please – be as wild and crazy as you like. Don’t scratch off anything. Then go back and look at your list. Ask yourself these questions, and connect with your heart and your gut to get the answers:
- Did your “wants” flow from your fingertips pretty much in the order of importance to you? This happens more often than not. What you put down first is usually what your instinct is telling you. Listen to that voice!
- Are any of these “wants” actually “shoulds,” either imposed by others or by some internal censor that passes judgment on what is “right” for you to want and what isn’t?
- Do you see a pattern in your list? If so, how does it make you feel?
For example, if your “wants” lean toward amassing wealth, is it really the money you want – or the feeling of security you get from having cash in the bank?
If you see lots of social activities on your list, is it really the “doing” that you want in your life, or is it the feeling of connection you get from being with other people?
It’s the feeling you’re trying to connect with, the feeling that will inspire you and keep you moving when you get down in the dumps. Look for it, recognize it and embrace it.
- Check out your list again, paying particular attention to anything that seems nutty, out of the question, absurd, ridiculous and so on. Are any of these things connected to your passion? We often get disconnected from our passion by well-meaning people who say they want the best for us, but who may instead be motivated (innocently and otherwise) by what’s best for them – not you.
What’s best for you – not them?
Your passion of becoming a world-renown chef, for instance, could be derailed by loved ones who don’t want you to go off the culinary school and leave them behind.
Your desire to invent marvelous new things could be discounted by people who fear they would lose status or income should you quit your job to purse your dream.
What about you? What do you want? What’s your passion? I’d love to hear about it!