I had a conversation a few months ago with a young woman who’d recently gotten married. She and I we were talking about the phase of life she was in, and I asked her what her biggest challenge was.
She answered, “I guess I would say my own individualism since I’m in a new phase of life and married now. Sometimes I think about who I am and what I’m supposed to be doing… I want to live passionately now, not just in the future.”
We all have this longing to matter — to do something significant that we’re passionate about. But how do you know what that “something” is? Some of you reading this might be in a place where you’re doing exactly what you know you’re supposed to be doing in this season of your life — and you’re passionate about it. And some of you might feel so far from that you don’t even know where to start. (If that’s you, it’s okay! You’re not alone.)
Even if you are operating in your sweet spot, things change as life changes. Relationships, jobs, health, finances… all these things can change. Especially during times of transition, questions like “What’s my purpose?” and “What am I passionate about?” seem to stare us in the face.
Living out your purpose with passion isn’t about “finally arriving” or finding that one thing to do. After all, you can live out your unique purpose in different ways in different seasons of your life. It actually has more to do with truly understanding who you are and finding ways to live that out, right where you’re at.
So how do you do that? There’s more to this than can be captured here, but a few keys things you can do — even today — are:
- Know your strengths. Know the things you are naturally good at. Don’t speculate or guess — actually take time to discover the things that come easy to you. There are plenty of assessments and resources that can help — some online, and several books. And if you want to keep it simple, just think about what you were good at as a child. What did you gravitate towards doing when you were little, and what did you find rewarding? Often, those are the things you’re naturally strong at. The years that have passed, and all the life that’s happened since then, might’ve caused you to forget. Knowing your strengths can give you clarity on your direction and point you toward things that you’d likely find great purpose in doing today.
- Know your passions. What fires you up and fuels you? Is it hiking or business, cooking, or traveling? Or maybe it’s fighting for a cause? Identifying your passions is easy for some, but for others, it can be hard. Give yourself permission to dream, and don’t try to be passionate about what you think you should be passionate about. (When I became a mom, I thought I should be passionate about crafts. It took me a few years to figure out that leading craft projects just wasn’t for me. It was liberating to realize I didn’t have to volunteer to do that anymore, and there were other moms who not only loved crafts but were way better at it than I was!) Doing the things that excite and interest you will energize you, not drain you. You’ll also likely make the greatest contribution, because you’ll be doing something you love and care about.
- Examine your experiences. You might’ve gone through the same thing as someone else, but you didn’t experience it the same way, because you are you. Think about the experiences in your life — the challenges you’ve faced, the successes you’ve had, the things that have helped to shape you. Your experiences, positive and negative, are a valuable part of your story, and they often uniquely equip you to make a significant difference in the lives of others.
All these things — your strengths, passions, experiences, and more — combine to make up your personal brand: who you are and how you live that out. And when you spend time discovering more about yourself, your purpose and passions become clearer.
But… there’s another important step to living your purpose with passion, and that’s doing it with others by your side. If you do all this work and dig into who you are, and figure out your strengths and direction, but live that out in isolation, you’ll still miss out. Look for opportunities to make a difference in the unique way only you can, and do it in community.
Years ago, when I first started pursuing my dream of writing books, I was a closet writer. I felt like I needed to be published or have my writing perfected before I told anyone what I was doing. But then someone wiser than me said: “If you’re writing, you’re a writer. You don’t have to be published to call yourself one.” That gave me courage to share what I was doing. I realized you don’t have to have it all figured out before you step out and pursue your dreams. When I started calling myself a writer and doing that journey with other writers by my side, doors opened.
Not only did doors open, I had a community around me when doors closed. And believe me, that was important. I got hundreds of rejection letters before I got my first book contract. But having other writers in my circle who were going through the same thing made all the difference. I didn’t lose my passion when I hit roadblocks; that’s the power of community.
Putting yourself out there in a new way makes you feel vulnerable (I know!), but it creates opportunities you would never see otherwise. I saw that in my journey as a writer, and I saw that when I started my coaching and consulting business. One of the first things I did was share what I was doing with others, and that fueled my courage — and my business.
So if there is something you’re longing to do, or unknown territory you’ve been wanting to step into — do it. Take time to understand who you are, then put one foot in front of the other and don’t worry so much about the outcome or if you’re “ready.” Instead, recognize the unique value you bring to the table and the unique contribution you can make. And be sure to share what you’re doing with others. Because living out your purpose with passion is better (and way less terrifying) with friends by your side.
(publishing credit: Idaho Family Magazine, April issue, 2018)
If you want to strengthen your personal brand, visit my personal branding page and find out more.