|This gull lives and breathes its meaning|
Sometimes we don't know our passions until we have a whole lot of experience behind us, and we discover what we're passionate about as we travel through life.
Now we know it's about bringing passion to whatever we're doing, wherever we happen to be.
After we meet our basic needs like shelter and safety, what we need most is meaning and purpose... whether through paid work, home and family life, or in community.
If you're unsure about what brings your life meaning, here are some ideas to gain more clarity.
Follow your curiosity
What makes you go huh...? Or hmmm...? What are you reading, listening to, or watching, and what is it about those things that appeal to you? What or who do you want to know more about? If you could take any class in school or elsewhere, or travel anywhere you'd like, what does that look like and why? Is there someone you admire or sometimes feel envious of? What is it about that person that prompts that response?
Perhaps you're curious about brain science, like I am, but not willing or able to be a neuroscientist. What about this inspires or appeals to you? Notice that, and see if you can find other ways to explore and enjoy that interest.
If you're curious, you may have a latent talent for something related... I'll never be a neuroscientist, but I love coaching and how the latest research in brain science applies to personal development and human potential.
Notice where you spend your money
Our proverbial checkbooks or credit card statements are insightful; they document what we care about. What do you buy, who or what do you donate to, and what do you do to be entertained? Is how you spend your money aligned with your values? If not, why not? Perhaps you need to re-evaluate your spending—or your values.
For example, if you care about the environment, what kind of food do you buy? Or are you addicted to fast fashion? (It's a thing, and not a good one, as it's a huge drain on resources and contributes to pollution.) Are you a mindless shopper, like I used to be—healing old wounds in unsatisfactory ways?
How does your lifestyle support your health, your dreams, your overall satisfaction? These are a big part of meaning and purpose.
What makes you angry?
I wrote a while ago about acquaintance Nathalie Molina Nino, who in her book Leapfrog wrote that we should forget about finding our passion and instead find something we want to punch. Those things that make us the angriest are great opportunities for potential work, budding (or serial) entrepreneurs, or providing volunteer opportunities.
What makes us angry also tells us what we care about, which brings us closer to clarity and understanding of our meaning and purpose.
Test the waters
When we find meaning and purpose, we find our passions—often right where we are. Sometimes we're fascinated by something, but we've never done it before. Through doing, we build confidence, gain experience, get excited, and grow those passions.
Maybe you'd love to own a bakery one day. Time vaporizes when you're in the kitchen, baking cookies, breads, or specialty desserts. Having a bakery may not be feasible now, but what can you do that gets you closer? Sell your stuff with a microbusiness, using the magic of technology on Next Door or Marketplace, or one of the many channels available now.
The owner of wildly popular Seattle cafe Hot Cakes started selling that chocolate gooey goodness under a tent at farmers markets. Now she has two brick-and-mortar cafes, and recently opened two vegan ice cream shops. They run themselves while she travels and surfs.
Small steps are better than no steps.
Understand your motivation
Knowing why you want something can keep you motivated when you wonder if you're on the right track. If you can identify why your endeavor is important—ask why 3, 5, 7 times until you feel you have your answer... you're more likely to stick with what you're doing when it gets hard and your end goal seems impossible.
Simon Sinek's Start with Why is one of the most popular TEDTalks ever. And it makes sense... why you do something can make all the difference.
Start your side hustle
Given today's economics, a side hustle is a good idea, regardless. If you want to learn more, or get some ideas if you're unsure of your options, Portland's world-traveling Chris Guillebeau is your go-to resource.
So as a colleague suggested, perhaps we should make 2020 the year of the side hustle. Want more meaning and purpose in your life? More passion? Pay attention to your focus: where focus goes, energy flows.
What are you creating right now?
Meaning and purpose have staying power, where sometimes passion fizzles. Find meaning and purpose, and you're on your way to a more satisfying, rewarding life.
If you like this post or this blog resonates with you in any way, please feel free to subscribe (see right column), share it, comment below, or send me a message. I'm also available for one-on-one coaching—you can find me here.