If you told me five years ago that I’d be making a living today pursuing my passion and helping others through it, I’d’ve called you out for some straight guff.
The reality was that I lived on my mom’s couch, and the only thing I felt passionate about was the Eros in my relationships. (I think it’s still illegal to make money off of that.) Yet here I am today, a top contributor for several major magazines, and a trusted mentor and coach to some pretty inspiring people—business executives, Ivy league honors graduates, published authors.
This is all to say that I started my journey to passion and success from rock bottom and with absolutely no direction. If you follow me for this article, I’ll teach you how to do the same but in two years or less no matter where you’re starting from.
Why you don’t have to know what your true purpose or passion is if you start moving towards a goal—any goal!
When you’re in motion, distractions on your life’s periphery—family drama, friend drama, etc.—fade into a blur and no longer hold power over you. Not your problem, you’ll say. Better things to do!
But when you’re stationary, scared to move in any direction, scared to help, all of the outlying issues that have nothing to do with you will command your attention and eat up your time, giving you all the excuses you need to stay still. So moving toward a goal—any goal, and especially helping others—will create the momentum you need to shift your focus to things that matter and away from things that don’t.
It’s like getting bit by mosquitos.
How annoying are they when you’re out chillaxing on your patio? Now how about when you’re driving 70 mph on the highway? When you’re in motion and on your way to a goal, you just don’t sweat the small stuff. In fact, the small stuff does its best to bolt out of your way before you annihilate it! (This holds true for problems like depression, anxiety, and OCD, too, in my experience.)
Don’t know what your long-range goals are, or what your true purpose is?
Doesn’t matter! Nope, not one iota. Momentum will work for you no matter what path you’re heading down, just as long as it means something to you, and preferably when its rooted in making a difference to other people. It’s like Zig Ziglar said:
“If you help enough other people get what they want, you’ll get what you want.”
How I came to my passion through pursuing a hair-brained health shake business
I came to my eventual passion of writing and coaching by starting a health-shake business. Yep—almost no relation. But when I worked on my business plan every day, experimented with new recipes, and strove towards that cool-seeming goal of helping others reach optimal health through yummy shakes, I grew my confidence, I focused on something other than the anxiety and depression that had ruled my life, and I dabbled in some skills like writing that would eventually lead me on to a much greater calling—helping you!!
The same thing could have happened in reverse for someone who was meant to change other people’s lives through yummy shakes:
They could’ve started off writing about self-improvement, then discovered that they really were called to write about health, and eventually practical health tips, like making awesome shakes and smoothies, and that journey could’ve culminated in building a shake empire from the back of a roach coach they bought for $250 from a guy on craigslist. Momentum and consistent work will always lead you to your passion no matter your starting point.
How this all translates to you and finding your passion
Again, it doesn’t matter if you know exactly what you want to do. The only thing that matters is that you say, “This is what I’m doing every day, and here’s who it’s gonna help.” Once you have that information, you have goals to work toward every day, and you have people to work hard for when you’re feeling low that aren’t yourself.
From there, you just keep goal setting, keep working, keep avoiding the little distractions that suck up your time and energy. Try to outdo your efforts each day. Then start taking notes on your life: What really resonates with you, what makes you feel best about yourself, what excites and intrigues you, what you feel passionate about. Feed the action steps from these insights into your plans for a better tomorrow—trying new things, but always going hard at the mid-to-long range goals you’ve picked. Keep this up and you’ll eventually find the forks in the road that lead to the thing you really, really were meant to do: your passion, your purpose, your calling.
Now how do I convert this inspiring, life-changing info into practical action steps?
Glad you asked! Here’s a convenient numerical list that you can start today:
1-Brainstorm for an hour or two on what you could see yourself doing for the next couple months
Couple months is all you need. Because if you’re deciding what to do with your life, chances are you don’t have enough life experience to know what your true passion is. Age doesn’t necessarily equate to experience, here, folks. So you just need to rack up some experience doing anything remotely interesting. If you do it every day, you’re going to develop skills and interests (not to mention courage and confidence) that will qualify you for your next thing, and the next, and the next, and all the way to your true passion.
Do you want to teach people about healthy stuff like I did? Or do you want to use your art to beautify other people’s lives and make money doing it? Whatever it is, and no matter how silly it seems, write it down. This goal will be responsible for breaking your inertia and leading you to your purpose.
2-Start a very basic planning routine
Define what you want to have accomplished in a month, making sure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound: SMART. That’s your monthly planning page. And again, don’t worry if it seems too silly or simplistic—starting this planning thing is the only thing that matters. You’ll master it in time.
A realistic monthly goal could be, “Create a website”.
Then you turn that monthly strategy into weekly action plan, where you delineate specific steps that you can realistically do one day at a time for the week ahead. For the monthly website goal, your weekly action plan will have steps like this:
- Come up with budget
- Brainstorm domain name
- Purchase domain and hosting
- Create sales, about me, and landing pages.
- Ask Jen what she’d change about my copy.
- Research the best web developer, make first contact.
- Write two blog posts.
Bam. That simple. All you need are realistic action steps that are connected to a bigger-picture goal that can’t be accomplished all in one go.
Last, you’re going to purchase a blank sketchbook or journal to use as your daily planner. You pick your top three most important goals for the day either the night before or the morning of, and choose not more than five tertiary goals.
2-Brainstrom domain name
3-Apply for x freelance jobs.
The other goals could be things like journaling, going to the cleaners, calling the plumber—whatever needs done. Here’s a sample planning template you can use:
3-Journal for 10-20 minutes each night
The previous steps are proactive, and this one is reflective. Journaling is where you’ll gather insights about your effort, what’s working, what’s not, and what really inspires you—all the info you need to make better and better decisions each day. Be religious about it as a daily habit, because I promise you that it will work miracles in your life. You’ll make better decisions more often when your recognize your efforts, and you’ll set smarter goals through the insights you uncover.
That should be the sound you make when you realize that you don’t have to know what your passion is right this moment, or even by next year. You should feel relieved. You should feel encouraged knowing that you can control how amazing your life is, how good you feel about yourself, and the difference you make to others just by being consistent in some very simple goals. So use these good feelings to start some life-changing habits: goal-setting and journaling. Bonus points if you start a note-taking practice too!