It’s a question I get quite often from my clients “How do I figure out what my passion is? How do I get there? And besides that, how do I even figure out where there is?”
Many of us are standing on the edge with our eyes in a strained squint expecting that some purpose filled destination will reveal itself off on the horizon, and all we have to do is look down to see the perfectly laid path before us, step on to it and start on our easy breezy saunter right in to our passion and start purposing away!
But the thing is, it rarely works like that. There are very few of us who knew what our purpose was from the time we learned what a teacher, fireman or doctor was. And there are even fewer of us who might find ourselves satisfied in said clear purpose from start of career to retirement.
So there we are. Standing on the ledge awaiting some magical revelation. And telling ourselves we can’t move forward until we know EXACTLY where we’re going. And to add to said unrealistic expectation, we promise ourselves that once said purpose is revealed, it will also be the ultimate solution to all of our woes.
Oh the pressure! We put ourselves under so much pressure to know exactly what to do and where to go before even starting that we find ourselves almost inevitably stuck in something I call ‘passion pressure paralysis’: We’ve bought into the false belief that we need to have it all figured out before starting, but don’t have it all figured out, so do nothing.
So what the heck do we do?
We step off the edge and put one paving stone down in front of us. We make one move. We do one thing that gets us moving forward.
But Julia, how do I know what that one thing is? And what if I get it wrong???
And the answers are, it both doesn’t matter, and, you can’t.
Contrary to popular myth, you don’t actually need to have it ALL figured out, or frankly even much figured out before you take a step forward. You just need to do something. And if that something turns out NOT to be the thing that is in the exact linear trajectory toward your bigger passion filled purpose, it doesn’t really matter because learning it wasn’t it helped you get more clear on which direction you don’t want to go, and likely gave you a little insight on where you do.
We all think there is this destination, this end point, this place of arrival that that we all need to get to, and get to fast! But there is actually only one end point in life…. And without getting morbid, we’re all headed there, and there’s not much we can do about it once we arrive.
So in reality, it’s about the journey. About trying new things, learning as much as we can, seeing how we can stretch ourselves, discovering what brings us joy and connection, having different enriching, and sometimes not so enriching experiences (they all count).
And as we put down one paving stone at a time, we work our way forward. And some paths are more twisty turny than others, and at times we get more clarity and feel as though our path is heading in a right direction, and sometimes it all seems all very foggy and confusing.
But one thing is certain, if we don’t put down that first stone and keep using our courage to put another one down and another one down and another one down, we waste our lives standing on the edge getting a headache from straining and a stubbornness ache from insisting we must know exactly what’s up ahead.
All that said we do actually need one extra thing to get us over the edge, to help us put down that first stone– and it’s not more motivation, inspiration or a good pep talk.
It’s trust. Trust that we will be able to roll with the twist and turns in our path. Trust that although sometimes we might feel lost and off course, as long as we keep putting down those stones and moving forward we will keep getting somewhere.
The trust in ourselves that comes in the form of real confidence. The deep down belief in ourselves that enables us to take risks, try new things without having a guaranteed outcome, putting ourselves out there in challenging, and potentially awkward situations.
The trust that we will be able to take on, work through and roll with what life has for us.
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