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Lately, I’ve come across a lot of headlines about how your purpose has nothing to do with your passion. Upon reading, I found the point they were making was more along the lines of: “If your passion is football, it doesn’t mean your purpose must be a career as a pro footballer”.
This is definitely something I can agree with. While there are some people who go on to make money directly from their passion, the process is a little more complicated for the rest of us.
I’d still argue, though, that a life purpose is always connected to passion, albeit in a more roundabout way.
Is Purpose just a made-up concept?
Before I continue, I’ll address the elephant in the room: Does “purpose” even exist? It seems to be a concept that’s entirely dependent on one’s personal beliefs.
And so it is. I would, however, argue that it doesn’t make a difference whether you actually believe in a higher “life purpose” or “soul purpose” – as long as you’re open to the idea of picking something and declaring it your purpose, you’re good to go.
If you’re wondering why you would do that: Studies have found much higher levels of happiness in people who are purpose-driven and working towards a “bigger picture” type goal. Therefore, even if you’re cynical about the idea of purpose as such, you may still see its usefulness for the practical benefit of increased happiness.
Passion is a bit of an overused term lately. Anything that even remotely resembles a hobby is called a passion. I like to use the term in its original meaning: something which truly lights you up and makes your eyes sparkle. A passion can make you forget time and you feel like you could do it all day.
The wonderful thing about true passions is that they make us happy. In hippie lingo: they raise our vibration. Actually, now that science increasingly catches up and is well capable of measuring the frequencies of thoughts and emotions, the concept of “vibrations” isn’t as woo-woo as it used to be, so I suggest you just go with it.
The trouble is that our modern society isn’t designed for passion, joy and pleasure. Or rather, it views these things as distractions, activities for our leisure time – you know, after the important stuff is done. With rising prices and stagnating salaries, we spend more and more time working and hustling just to exist, too exhausted to remember that maybe life wasn’t supposed to be all about paying bills. Passions happen for a half-hour on a Sunday afternoon, if that.
It’s all in your head
Maybe you’re beginning to see that passion and purpose are at their core, revolutionary concepts. They upend the basic presumptions our society is built on. I don’t know about you, but I like being subversive, and so I’ve made it my business (quite literally – I’m a Life Coach) to prioritise the passions in my life and help my clients do the same.
You may wonder how you’d go about prioritising passions when you still need to make a living and pay a rent or mortgage. Fortunately, there’s really no need to quit your job, at least not right away. Giving priority to something is mostly a matter of mindset, and here are some steps you can take to get there.
1. Get clear on what truly lights you up
If you aren’t sure, try and remember what you used to love doing when you grew up. Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to try out? Don’t include every faint interest of yours, but don’t worry either if you come up with more than one passion. All this means is that you’re a multipassionate.
2. Get organised
This sounds very rational and boring, but it’s a necessity unless you happen to be a Lady (or Lord) of Leisure with time to spare. For all the rest of us, a degree of planning is our best weapon against the demands of work, family, socialising and modern media.
So get a calendar like the one on your smartphone, and schedule the week ahead. Block off your work hours and then add in generous chunks of time for you passion(s) – before anything else! By all means also schedule quality time with loved ones and any appointments, but don’t ever compromise on passions time. These hours are sacred and non-negotiable.
3. Think yourself happy
I’m aware I’m beginning to sound like your cheesiest self-help guru. But in fact our thoughts follow our habits, and most of us have rather self-defeating habits in that respect.
This will take some work! Look into taking up meditation; 5-10 minutes of mindfulness first thing in the morning are a great start. Challenge yourself to find three things to be grateful for every evening before bed. Whenever something “bad” happens to you, ask yourself what the good sides are and/or what you can learn from the situation.
You need to stick with this for a bit, because habits take at least 21 days to form. I promise that after a while, it’ll stop being work and start feeling natural.
Once you’re in the passions-first mindspace, you’ll find yourself more joyful and energetic. It feels like waking up to life and what it’s truly all about, and it’s the ideal mindspace to conceive of your passion. That’s where the connection lies.
In many cases, purpose is connected to one’s passion at least in some way. It might not be immediately obvious, but eventually, purpose will always show up once passion is center stage in somebody’s life. Be patient and keep looking for what might present itself.
If this sounds unsatisfactory, then I’m truly sorry. Purpose is highly individual and often shows up in unexpected ways, that’s why it’s so difficult to make any sweeping statements about it. If in doubt, get help – a trained Coach can be a blessing in this matter, as I know from my own experience (yes, I have a Coach, too). Look for someone you resonate with and enjoy the journey.
Sibylle is a joy-seeker and professional Life Coach at http://www.wildspiritscoaching.com who helps clients break out of the tyranny of “work, pay bills, buy things and consume” and instead prioritise doing what lights them up. She lives in the beautiful West of Ireland.