Finding Your Passion – Or Not

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I had a brief “what’s my passion/purpose” crisis, an illogical sense that all my best years are behind me and that I’m not living up to my God-given potential. It crept up on me right around the holidays as I found myself reading countless articles on New Year’s resolutions, themes and how to do 2014 right.

It’s hard to escape the notion, especially this time of year, that unless we’re passionately pursuing our purpose our lives are meaningless. My take on the advice I’ve read is that our purpose in life should be specific, measurable, lucrative above all else, passionate. This is especially true about the career we choose. We’re encouraged to make our living doing something that knocks our socks off all the time. Find something you’re passionate about and make it your job. If you love what you do, it won’t feel like work. I’ve seen that happen for some people and it’s fantastic when it does but if I took the things I love most and turned them into a career, they wouldn’t be fun anymore. Work is work. Fun is fun. Maybe they’re not always meant to be joined.

Personally, I wonder if it’s because we can’t tolerate boredom. We must always be striving to be extraordinary and if we can’t get there on our own merits, there are limitless ways to get high so that we can feel amazing, if even for a short time (at least that’s what I used to do).

What’s a purpose or passion supposed to look like anyway? Should I be able to take an ordinary desire like wanting to look less lumpy in my skinny jeans and turn it into a billion dollar industry (like Spanx)? Do I need to write a book that touches millions of lives? Do I need a color-coded flow chart? A deadline for success?

I work from home so that I can be home with my kids. I like what I do. It fulfills my desire to be organized, methodical and creative but the truth is that I could be fulfilled in any number of jobs. What it breaks down to is that I love to serve. I could almost say it’s my purpose. Yes, I know it’s vague and it may never be attached to any big paycheck but service is what manifests itself in me when I’m feeling centered and connected. I don’t serve to make people happy but because I am happy. I’m pretty sure I got that line from a Veggie Tales movie.

I do believe that everyone has a God-given purpose but the way it shows up in our lives may not always look like what we think it should look like. It’s not likely that our unique purpose in life will appear in the sky written in fireworks. It may not even be particularly unique or ever make us a dime. It may not be one big thing but a series of encounters that leave you wondering if anything happened at all. You may wonder why everyone else seems to have found theirs and then realize 10 years later that you were in the midst of yours all along.

The conclusion I came to is that the best I can do is just keep moving. Do something. Step forward, sideways or backwards. Be lazy. Be discontent. Just be. Live this one life even if the answers to the big questions elude me. Don’t look so hard because that’s usually when things start to happen (even if I’m not consciously aware of anything happening). Every task we do builds our character and our character determines how we take care of each other. And if a big, passionate idea comes to me then I’ll do big, passionate things with it but until then, I’ll just dance.

 

24 Comments on “Finding Your Passion – Or Not

  1. This was such a perfect reflection on ‘purpose’ and such an interesting topic to ponder. It’s true that we attach a need for external validation to our passions or else they seem less worthy of pursuing (I say “it’s true” but come to think of it, I’m not so sure that you were saying in that in the post… either way – your post made me think).

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    • I’m not sure if I said it that way exactly but you’re right! I know that I tend to think I need an audience to acknowledge or validate my “purpose” or else it’s not meaningful. When I let go of my ego, I can see that the most important things I do affect very few and are seen by even fewer.

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      • I think it’s only very few of us don’t need that audience to validate and acknowledge them. 🙂

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  2. The advice that a passion has to be measurable and specific sounds like crossing old-school romanticism with scientific management. I don’t buy it. A whole lot of this pressure seems linked to economic striving, which doesn’t seem to have much to do with living well. I really like what you say about doing,and living. Lovely inspiring post. Many thanks. Keep on dancing!

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    • I agree with what you say about economic striving and how it relates to living. When I started thinking that my best years are behind me it’s because I thought I’d be more financially secure by now but instead I get to be with my kids all day. This is really living for me. Thanks for your thoughts!

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  3. Boy does this crank up things for me…what is my GOAL here, my PASSION, my INTENT here? Oh , they can be all seperate entities? They don’t have to be wrapped up in one role or thing? I can have more than one? I can have purpose that is both silly and with productive merit? they didn’t teach me any of this stuff at school. I was too busy writing those tests that told the guidance counsellor what I would be good at. Mine was psychologist or social worker or something like that. Possibly a carnie or street sweeper. I can’t recall precisely.

    Anyway, this is so wonderfully stated, Karen. Loved it. Like you, I like the simplicity of my life – I work, I come home, I do things around the house. I write. Do the recovery thingy just to keep in check. Listen to tunes. Sing in the shower. The passion comes out in my actions, not just in a *thing*. I love doing certain things, but they are commonplace. Love organizing drawers. Doing dishes. cooking. Sure I’m a chef, but really I manage people. I cook at home.

    Love the pic of your little one. what a cutie.

    Thank you for this thought provoking post. I could go on forever…but then again, I tend to go on for a while that’s close to forever…ha ha.

    Paul

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    • It’s that whole black/white thing isn’t it? Some of us have problems seeing shades of gray. I love your new site by the way!

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  4. Hi Karen! I love this post, I have this same feeling every new year, and this year i just let it be – no purpose for me, i think i am done agonizing over it. This searching and needing to have an amazing purpose! I already have a purpose. To be sober and to help others, that’s all and that’s perfect to me. I saw this quote the other day, and i can remmeber from who… but it said something like: don’t miss doing something good because you are looking to do something amazing! –

    Thanks Karen! Sending many hugs! ps love the pic 🙂

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    • That’s a great quote! I think what we’re all looking for is a sense of meaning in our lives. I got caught up in the trap of believing that meaning had to be tied to a paycheck and that’s simply not true. So much of our lives are spent in small interactions and if I look at each one, I see big meaning. I love that pic too. It’s my baby girl on her 3rd birthday when she told me that she was going to go on an adventure. 🙂 Thanks Maggie!

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      • No problem. Your post brought to mind an old song lyric that I have to come back to from time to time: “Choke me in the shallow waters, before I get too deep…”

        I think we writers tend to spend too much time in our heads….dangerous territory, really. Keep it up Karen!

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        • I love that song! That’s true about writers. We also tend to think that what we do is only meaningful if we have a big audience, which is dangerous territory as well. Thanks again Juan!

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  5. Thank you for this, Karen. I often get stuck in that rut of questioning my purpose in life, and I waste so much time spinning my tires in the rut that I end up not living at all. I have come to believe that our purpose in life is first and foremost to leave the world better than we found it, to leave other people better for having known us, and to leave no pain in our wake if we can help it. Everything else is just details. Our life’s purpose is to do what has been given to us to do, to the best of our ability to do it. Sufficient for the day are its troubles. It is good to set goals, but not to live so focused on the future that we miss the joy of living right now. The notion of what defines success in our modern world is one which connotes striving and stress. I prefer a peaceful life, lived with joy, in which success is measured in loving and being loved, exravagently. 🙂

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  6. Searching endlessly for ‘something’ is overrated – you spend you whole time trying to be something else and never seeing/appreciating yourself now. I like the philosophy of if you never have expectations, you will never be disappointed. We have such a hard time just being and being OK with that. I’m tired of always feeling like I have to strive for something different or change myself etc…

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