How to discover your passion

My friend Mary recently said to me, “I know I’m not satisfied in my current job/career.  But I don’t know what I want to do!  How do I figure that out?  So that I don’t end up changing for the sake of change, and even more miserable than I am now!”

Once people hear that I walked away from my former job and career over a year ago, one of the first things they ask me is – how did you figure out what you wanted to do?  So in this blog, I’m going to tell you what I did, and what worked for me.

One of the books I read was “The Cure for the Common Life” by Max Lucado.  In there, he spells out an exercise he learned from someone else.  And I learned it from his book.  Here is what I did:

1.  List Your Accomplishments
Start by writing out a one line statement for EVERYthing in your life you can remember that you did, that you were proud of, that you felt you did well, and you enjoyed the doing of it.  Start from your earliest memories, as a child.  Note:  It does NOT matter if someone else thinks you did it well or not – for this exercise, what matters is what YOU think  and how YOU felt.  It also doesn’t matter if it was “big” – it can be something that took you 10 minutes.  What matters is that you did it, you were proud of it, you felt you did it well, and you enjoyed doing it. 

Some examples from my list:  I made an Underdog puppet out of a paper bag in art class – 2nd grade.  I made a doll from a sock and scrap material mom gave me – 6th grade.  I made up a play with my sister and some friends, a western where we all died, when I was 9 or so.  I hosted a costume party on April Fool’s day in college.  I worked on a crisis line and helped someone suicidal after college. 

2.  Describe Your Accomplishments
Now that you have your list, from your whole life, excellent!  Now break down your life into 4-5 segments:  Before School, Elementary School, Adolescence, College, Adulthood.  For each segment, choose 1-2 items from your Accomplishments List.  
For each Accomplishment, on a separate sheet of paper, write out the following. 
Synopsis:  <This is the one line statement directly from the Accomplishments List.>
How:  <Write out the details of what you did, and how you did it.  This should be mostly action steps you took. Use active verbs where you can, eg. I wrote, I gathered, I designed, I crafted.>
What felt most satisfying?:  <Write out what about this accomplishment, and the doing of it, felt most satisfying to you. 

3.  Look for themes and patterns.
Now comes the fun part, the part where you mine what you wrote for information!  You may want to put it all aside for a day or several before you tackle this step (I did). 
Review what you wrote in Step 2.  Look for themes, patterns, commonalities.  These can show up in what you like to do, in how you like to do things, in who you like to work with, in areas you prefer to work, etc.  Start listing what you see. 

At this point, I found it helpful to take my writings from Steps 1 and 2, and showed them to a few trusted friends and my own coach.  I asked what patterns THEY saw, and added that to my list of observations. 

4.  What did you learn?
At this point, I felt I learned a ton, about what was wired into, from the very beginning, what I was drawn to do, and what I really felt passionate about.  I had gained clarity I didn’t have before.  I really began to believe I was created with a purpose wired into me. 

If you’ve done all 4 steps, CONGRATULATIONS!!! WELL DONE!!!  It takes both courage and commitment to take these steps.  For me, it was as this time that  I began to get creative about what I could do with what I learned.  What areas might I want to explore?  What areas had I already explored?   I encourage you to do the same.

I’d love to hear from you, about your experiences or struggles with this exercise.  Feel free to post to the blog, or email me privately at Lori@CoachForABetterLife.com.

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One Response to “How to discover your passion”

  1. Petronella Says:

    Great work.

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