Finding Your Passion When You Don’t Know What You Want

Having trouble finding your passion in midlife?

Finding Your PassionSo did Julia Child!

I recently saw the movie, Julie and Julia. In the movie, Julia Child has no idea what she wants to do, after being relocated to Paris with her husband.

She finally realizes the one thing she likes is food and decides to explore her interest through cooking lessons.

As she makes a commitment to her new path, opportunities start to arise. Things don’t always happen quickly or smoothly, but it’s clear she’s found her calling. Even when an instructor tells her she’ll never be a good chef, she remains determined to make it work. She might not have discovered her passion if she hadn’t allowed herself to follow her love for French food where it led.

Following Your Inklings: The Key to Finding Your Passion

The key to any successful career change is to know what you want.

By the time you reach 40 or 50, you may have lost touch with yourself. You may not even know what you like or dislike. This can happen over a lifetime of: (1) trying to please others, (2) submerging yourself in jobs that aren’t a good fit, and… (3) forgetting how to listen to your own heart. I’m familiar with all three.

What I finally discovered (much to my relief) is that finding your passion is a process. Most people do not have this wonderful epiphany that reveals to them their one true passion or purpose in life. It’s more a matter of growing or evolving into it, kind of like The Velveteen Rabbit. The secret is to follow those little inklings, those interests, however insignificant they seem.

Curiosity can be a great roadmap to finding your passion.

Here are ten things you can do to get back in touch with what you want:

1. Try The Artist’s Way. You don’t have to be an artist to benefit from this 12-week program, which includes setting weekly “dates” with yourself to help you find inspiration and experience life more directly again.

2. Spend a few hours in a bookstore. Which sections do you gravitate toward? Which books attract you? I find when I enter a bookstore with the intention of finding answers to something I’m struggling with, I’m often “magically” drawn to exactly what I need.

3. Unplug. Turn off the TV, the iPod, the internet. Learn to listen to your inner voice again. Getting away from all those other voices helps me reconnect with my own.

4. Follow your heart. Carol McClelland, founder of Green Career Central and author of Your Dream Career For Dummies and Green Careers For Dummies, suggests we may need to reconnect with what we like and don’t like. Learn what your heart is telling you by paying attention to the physical sensations you feel when you’re either attracted to or repelled by something.

5. Start something, anything. As you get on the path toward discovering what you want, opportunities have a way of developing. People start to show up. Commit to something and start it. When you choose something, you avoid the trap of having too many options paralyze you and keep you from moving forward.

6. Brainstorm. What do you spend time enjoying and doing? Suspend all judgment here. Just let yourself list ideas. What do you collect, what books are on your shelves?

7. Experiment with your small inklings. It’s tempting to dismiss an idea as unrealistic, but before you do, give it a chance and try it out. Sometimes you may not be aware of an interest until you actually do it. Your greatest talent or strength could be something you take for granted or don’t think of as a potential career worth pursuing.

8. Trust! That your heart and intuition already know the answers and already know what you want. Allow yourself some time! And remember – Julia Child and you aren’t the only late bloomers.

9. Keep looking, keep moving. Get out there and meet people. Take a class in whatever interests you. Treat this as a journey, following the tracks where they lead.

10. Be open. To possibilities, new roads, new opportunities. Be patient with yourself. Instead of trying to analyze or think it through like a puzzle, try taking one action today. Once again, the answers are not going to be found in your head. Look to your heart and your intuition.

As you start to follow your inklings, keep in mind when finding your passion that no one can tell you what to do. For your career to be authentic, it has to come from you.

What inkling will you follow today?

Photo credit: daves cupboard / CC license.

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