It’s bad enough that you feel uninspired every day, but, like many people I’ve worked with you’re probably living with a quiet panic about what it means to have SO MANY days that feel like that. What does it mean for your whole life?
It means that all the things you could have done or want to do never really get accomplished. It means that everything you do every day doesn’t mean that much to you. And all that leaves you feeling flat, dull and depressed – like your life is wasting away and you are helpless to stop it.
It’s time for something to change.
You’re smart and creative, and you’re ready for something more in your life. . . What ever you want for yourself, the things you want to do and experience are within your reach.
Maybe you know what they are – you know what will make your life feel amazing, but you just don’t know how to do them. Or maybe you’re chasing a feeling – happiness, excitement, contentedness, inspiration, creativity. . . You want something in your life, but you don’t really know what to do to INFUSE your life with energy.
You are in the right place, because in this article I’m going to give you the 3 steps to ignite your passion and unleash your potential so that you can live the life you want to be living.
It’s time to stop wasting your life on things that don’t excite you.
It’s time to stop feeling powerless to do anything to change it.
It’s time to START moving forward with what you can do to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Step 1 – Find Your Passion
If you already know your passion, good for you! You are one step ahead. But don’t fast forward. There’s still more to learn so you can focus your passion to use it to move forward in your life.
The two biggest problems in finding passions
The two biggest problems related to locating passions are actually two sides of the same coin: Having too many and having none at all. The coin is acually a lack of focus on the TRUE self.
Are you overwhelmed because you have so many things you love, feel pulled in 10 different directions, and feel like 9 lives wouldn’t be enough to do all the things you want to do? As a consequence, you never get anywhere. When this happens to people it’s usually because they’ve lost their own compass. If you don’t understand yourself or your passions well enough, it can cause you to lose a sense of direction and get NOTHING done.
Or do you not really know what you’re passionate about? It’s not that your passions don’t exist, just that they have been ignored for so long that they’re sitting in the corner, sulking until they are coaxed out. Again, you may be disconnected from who you are, and needing to find your way back to YOU.
At the core, the problem is the same – a disconnection from who you are.
Here’s how to find your passion if you think you don’t have any:
1. Design your dream life: Imagine that you have a life you love. . . what are you doing? What aren’t you doing? How are you spending your time? The first time through this exercise lots of (overworked) people tell me they are sitting on the beach (or some version of relaxation). Now, maybe YOU are a passionate beach-sitter. Or maybe you just need a break. What do you do after six months of intense relaxation? What gets your blood moving again? What motivates you to get off that beach?
2. What do you collect? Sometimes, unconciously, we “collect” things we are passionate about. This doesn’t mean a dusty shelf of knicknacks. It’s what you’ve drawn to you in your life. I have a friend that “collects” people who need help. A recent client of mine “collected” amazing experiences, another “collected” rescue animals, and one “collected” cook books. We sometimes draw to us what we want and need in our lives. Take a look around and see if you can identify your collection.
3. What do you lose time doing? If you could do something all day, what would you do? For example, I would “do” words. . . talking to people, writing, reading, thinking. What is it that you lose yourself in?
How to find your passion if you have too many:
1. Step back: Sometimes “too many” passions is a matter of perspective. Like my example above of “doing words,” talking, writing, reading and thinking are different aspects of the same thing. Are your many passions really just different facets of the same thing?
2. Find your compass: If you can’t find a way to make sense of all the different things you love as one larger passion, you may have lost some perspective on your true self. You’ll have to listen to yourself carefully to know where you are pursuing something you truly love, and where you are operating on auto-pilot.
If everything you do truly feels like a passion, then you are simply a multi-passionate individual. Congratulations! There’s really no problem with being multi-passionate – it’s really just a matter of focus. If you can use your passions to move you toward what you want in life and not distract you from attaining your goals, then (my dynamic friend!) you are unstoppable.
IF, you find that being passionate about so much pulls you in too many directions, then keep reading to learn more about step 2 below.
Step 2 – Make a Plan
If you have your passion in-hand, nothing sets it on fire more than feeling like it can be a reality. How excited do you feel when you imagine, even for a minute, that whatever you dream of could really happen? Feel that fire in your belly? Well, lets take a look at how to make it happen.
1. The vision: Be VERY explicit about what you want to achieve. Painstaking detail will get you far. What do you imagine doing? How? With whom? What does it look like, smell like, taste like? What is happening in your life when you’ve achieved your goals? Get clear on where you are going and WRITE it down. Nothing creates more of a commitment to your goals, and nothing points out the gaps in your thinking and imagining faster than writing it down.
2. Bridge the gap: Understand where you are now, and look at the space between where you are and where you want to be. Ask: How would one go about achieving the goals you want to achieve.
Notice I say “how would one,” not, “how do you.” Depersonalizing it in this way does several things. First, it shortcuts the fears that start to kick in when your mind realizes you’re going to push it out of it’s comfort zone.
Second, it circumvents your own limited thinking. While YOU might never do a thing, for example, go door to door talking to everyone in your town to achieve your goal, that could be one possible way that ONE could achieve it. Thinking about all possibilities may help you crack the problem.
3. Start walking: Ask yourself, what can I do today to achieve the next thing on my list that will lead to my ultimate goal? Then do it.
Step 3 – Let go of Fear
What is all the stuff that holds you back from doing whatever it is that you want to do? Have you ever wondered why you don’t just do it?
You know it is going to make you happy and fulfilled and that it’s going to be a complete game changer in terms of every aspect of your life. So why can’t you just do it? Why do you keep getting in your own way?
Well, if it were as simple as “just do it,” or pure motivation, I probably wouldn’t have much coaching to do. You are already motivated for something to change, or you wouldn’t be here, reading this article. The problem is that you need to be UNLEASHED. And fears and behaviors are the leash that tie you down. They keep getting in your way and preventing you from changing, and until you change those fears and behaviors you’ll stay stuck.
So how do you cut the leash? You first have to identify your baggage. It comes in lots of shapes, sizes, and colors, but it generally breaks down into a few categories. You may find that one of these issues dominates, or that you know all of them all too well. See if you can identify where you are leashed.
1. Risk: Fear of risk is about fear of losing something, often safety and security. Being unwilling to move toward something that holds more promise may feel risky because you’re afraid you’ll jeopardize what you already have. Whether it’s a steady paycheck or something else, the fear of rocking the boat can trick you into thinking things will be easier if you just don’t ask too many questions and stay comfortably numb. . .
2. Do I Deserve? Do you catch yourself thinking that you don’t deserve something better? That you should be grateful for what you already have and not wish for more? Living in this fear is about feeling unworthy. Some people live in fear of punishment and worry that bad things will happen to them or those they love if they stick their necks out too far.
3. Capability: Can I do it? If you wonder if you are good enough to pull something off, you’re living with this fear. You may believe that others who have done what you aspire to do are in some way different, special or better than you. That critical voice can be loud!
4. Image Consultant: This fear is about what others will think. Many times people believe that they are free of this fear, but when they dive in, they see it’s alive and well. If you’ve ever thought, “I couldn’t do that, what would ___ think?” then you’re afflicted. Think about the wildest thing you could imagine doing – and then think about who would make you blush when they stare at you mouth wide open. Whoever it is, these “somebodies” unconsciously have a hold on you.
5. Skeptic: Is there a part of you that doesn’t believe that life could get any better? That you’re destined to live a boring, uneventful, and even meaningless life? That skeptic is a part of you that is afraid to live in the light of inspiration and possibility. Maybe your skeptic also tells you that what you want has been done before, and so there’s no point in doing it again. After all, someone has already written a book, been an entrepreneur or started a non-profit, right?
This baggage is rooted in fear, but they are behaviors rather than fears themselves. However, they are so common that I write about them here. They are very real themes of feeling and behavior that effectively hold us back from taking control of our lives.
1. Putting others first: This isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes it’s a necessary and amazing thing. But we often take it too far – to the point that we don’t consider our own needs at all. If we do this often enough, we lose touch with our needs, our wants, our opinions, and ultimately ourselves. We end up feeling adrift, unhappy and taken advantage of. Learning how to reconnect with ourselves and our desires is a necessary step in moving toward work and a life you want.
2. Self-Sabotage: We’re so close . . . and then we push the button that pulls the rug out from under us. When this happens we often ask, “Why do I do this to myself?” but I don’t think that’s the most important question. You already know the answer: It’s fear of what’s next. The question is, which part of you is doing the sabotage? Is it the critic, who knows you can’t possibly handle what’s coming? Is it the part of you that believes you don’t deserve it? Is it the image consultant that can’t bear to share your successes with others? Whether it’s fear of success, of failure, of the unknown, or all of those things, understanding what part or parts of you is doing the sabotage will help you to outsmart it.
3. Giving up: When we are afraid we sometimes self-sabotage, or, sometimes even before we get that far we just give up. We believe we can’t and so we don’t. We dismiss that flicker of hope and energy that burns when we connect with something inspiring. We aren’t creative in our problem solving, and just resign ourselves to whatever fate seems destined. But you haven’t rolled over and died yet. So there’s still hope. . .
4. Never starting: There’s a part of you that knows life can be more, but when fear takes hold of you, lots of self-protective parts rush in to make it ok to do nothing. You don’t want to sit with the angst of a lackluster life for long. So you get distracted by the next thing on your to-do list, by something fun and entertaining, or by a crisis that just “happens” to show up, and the pain all but disappears. . . until it creeps in again. This behavior can keep you stuck for years, until you finally decide that no matter what you are going to make pursuing a life of purpose a priority.
5. Shadow beliefs: We often gain something from a “negative” behavior. The negative behavior is something we don’t want, for example to sabotage our success. But what we don’t recognize is that sabotage actually gains us something – it’ may protect us from something we’re even more afraid to deal with than self-sabotage. These shadow beliefs operate in lots of different areas, but once we identify them they lose some of their power.
Unleashing Your Potential
What is right now a tiny seed of potential inside you is waiting to burst forth. . .
Your potential is whatever your life could be if you could break through your fears and blocks and live your passions fully.
So, how do you actually unleash your potential?
By identiying and understanding your fears and blocks, they lose power over you. Once you know what you are afraid of or keep stumbling over, YOU regain the power to:
- Feel the fear, but make a choice to move forward anyway
- Decide whether what the fear tells you is really likely
- Realize your fears are actually ungrounded and maybe even downright silly!
- Understand what is really motivating you and level the playing field
- Much more
Identifying fears and blocks can be hard to do on your own. You have to really tune into your true self and listen. You’ll have to distinguish between your true voice and the one that is on automatic pilot out of fear. And you’ll have to have the courage and follow through to follow what you really want..
It is much harder to do all of this on your own, because sometimes fear can be so overwhelming that you can’t see around it. It’s like looking at the world through fear-colored glasses.
Coaching will help you quickly see your fears and get a handle on them, design and go after the life you want, and forever free you from the fear that you are wasting your potential.
You have a great deal to offer the world. Don’t let it go to waste.
Do you have questions or comments about this article? Go ahead and post them to my Facebook page, where I’ll personally answer them!
Jessica Sweet, LICSW is a Master’s level clinical social worker, life coach and founder of Wishingwell Life Coaching. The mission of Wishingwell Life Coaching is to help people live happier, more meaningful and passionate lives through connecting them with their purpose and helping them to make the difference they are meant to make in their lives and the lives of others.
Jessica has worked with clients to help them reconnect with their passions, find dream jobs and overall regain a sense of happiness, purpose and direction in their lives. She has also worked with New York Times Bestselling Author and life coach Cheryl Richardson to help her create a charitable giving plan that aligned with her passions.
Jessica lives just outside of Boston, Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters.