Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about passion; specifically, how and where to find it in my daily life. I don’t mean the passion you might feel at the beginning of a romantic relationship, but rather the kind of passion that excites you to jump out of bed in the morning because you know you are living your purpose. There is nothing like the start of a new year to reflect on the past and contemplate what we want in the future (at least the short-term): which are the experiences that were truly meaningful this year and which were experiences that we’d like to forget or never repeat? What did we do this year that really excited us, or who did we meet that inspired us?
Although I may be able to answer these questions with a little consideration, I still find the question of my passion to be somewhat elusive. On the one hand I achieved a major goal for myself this year, which was to move and work abroad. Not only did I do it once, but I did it twice in less than twelve months. I now count both Argentina and Mexico on my roster of countries where I have lived (I am still in Mexico, by the way, and I am looking forward to staying for a while!) I landed where I wanted to be geographically and yet the emotional/spiritual/psychological question about where I am headed and what I will do there still remains.
In a conversation with a friend recently, we discussed why we often feel empty after achieving a goal when we have invested so much time and energy in the process. I would argue that we set goals in place of really seeking out and living our passion. Goals are less daunting, more achievable constructs and I believe they bring us more immediate gratification without having to tackle the bigger, scarier questions like why we are really here. They push us to keep moving forward, and simultaneously feed our egos when we accomplish them. Yet more often than not, our goals advance us in arenas in which we don’t even have a desire to play. They are a result of social pressures about what we should be doing, rather than what we really want to be doing.
While goals certainly have a value, finding our passion(s) is a challenge beyond any goal; it’s something that not everyone discovers, but I think that is primarily because we are inhibited by fear. We don’t want to suddenly realize something that would make us really happy would mean starting over and taking steps backward, even if it means going forward in the long-run. Or what if (gasp!) it wont make us any money? It’s hard to contend with the trap of the sunk cost. We feel like we are too deep or too far down one path to start something new. Yet, we could die tomorrow or at 100 years old, so what is time invested in the grand scheme of things? And who wants to feel like he is just clocking in and out every day, even if she is making plenty of money in the process?
Although I am dealing with my own passion pursuit, I know I am at least on the right track in thinking about it. In an article I read recently in Fast Company about finding your passion (http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028946/find-your-passion-with-these-8-thought-provoking-questions), it asks the question “looking back on your career (could also be replaced with life), 20 or 30 years from now, what do you want to say you have accomplished?” From where I am standing today I am not really sure, but I also don’t think it’s a question we can all answer out of pure instinct. While some are lucky to be born with a natural gift or calling, for most of us it’s a question whose answer evolves daily over a lifetime. Right now, I know I am passionate about experiencing other cultures and lifestyles; learning to communicate in another language with all the nuances that come with that challenge; and being a good friend, daughter, and hopefully a good wife someday. Maybe those are just goals (some achieved and some yet-to-be achieved), but they make me pretty happy. I am content in knowing that I am on my journey and for now, I choose to be passionate about all the gifts life has provided along the way.