“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman.
That’s a lovely quote, but how do you find your passion? How do you figure out what makes you come alive?
What would your life look like if you were fully alive?
How would you show up differently if you brought your full, authentic, whole self to every part of your life?
If you chose to fully express the unique person God created you as?
If each day you filled your time with activities that light you up? Activities that filled your heart and soul. Activities that gave you a sense of meaning and purpose.
What if you chose to do the hard things that felt uncomfortable because you knew that following the passions of your heart was worth all of the struggle?
This is what it looks like to live a fulfilling life. Showing up as your true, authentic, and full self. Pressing into the hard stuff for the meaning and purpose you’ll feel as your reward.
Life isn’t about stuff. Successful career. Good marriage. Big house. Lots of money in the bank account. Life is about what you do with the moments you’ve been given.
All the success in the world means absolutely nothing if you feel hollow, dissatisfied, and unfulfilled.
Yet so many of us settle for an empty, dull, and meaningless life that looks good on paper but feels unsatisfying. We have never taken the time to find our passion.
How do we discover what makes us come alive? When we’ve filled our lives with all the things that other people tell us we should, how do we find out what we actually want? When we’ve spent our whole lives trying to fit in, how do we learn the unique ways God made us?
1. Be still and quiet.
These days we are constantly consuming. Music, podcasts, tv, social media, YouTube, books. It is great to learn and grow at times, opening ourselves up to different people and different perspectives. But if you want to learn more about yourself, you have to spend more undistracted time with yourself. Turn off all the outside noise and just be. Listen to your thoughts. Listen to your dreams. Tune out all the outside people and messages telling you what you should do and how you should be and listen to your own heart.
2. Notice what makes you come alive.
Have you ever just given yourself permission to love what you love? Do you even know what you love? When you’re taking extra time to be quiet and be with yourself, you’ll have the space to notice new things that light you up. Think back to times when you experienced great joy, a sense of timelessness, or passionate energy. What were you doing? Who were you with? What was it about the experience that made you feel a spark? Keep a list as you discover new things that ignite your passion.
3. Experiment and take notes.
Try new things. Do something you’ve never done that sounds kind of interesting and see how you feel. You might hate it, you might love it, you might feel kind of neutral. You won’t know until you try. Keep track of the things you try and how you feel about them. See if you can notice any patterns for categories of things, places, or people that can give you even more information that can help you find your passion.
4. Give yourself permission to quit.
When we’re discovering things that make us come alive we might also begin to recognize things that have the opposite effect. In the before times when we didn’t pay much attention to ourselves, we might have been slogging along doing all the things because we thought we were supposed to. But you don’t have to do anything. If something is not serving you, change it up or give it up. Even if it’s laundry, that’s why God gave us children, husbands, and housekeepers. At the very least, figure out how you can do it less often (take turns with your husband/kids each week, for example). Get creative and find ways to reduce or eliminate the things that drag you down.
5. Don’t be afraid to get uncomfortable and press into the hard.
Being fulfilled in life and feeling good all the time are not the same thing. Sometimes the things that make you come the most alive will be hard. You’ll experience discomfort. You’ll struggle. You might even fail at first. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. In fact, the things that give us the most meaning and purpose in life usually require us to push ourselves beyond what feels comfortable and grow. What makes your heart burn with passion? What issue or problem in the world would you most like to fix? If you weren’t afraid, what would you love to do? Press into those things and see if your soul comes more alive.
Putting it all together to find your passion
Feeling fulfilled in life makes us feel a sense of wholeness. There is resonance. We feel like everything is aligned. But you can’t experience any of this without action. A fulfilled life is a life that is lived, with intention and meaning. You won’t learn what makes you feel fulfilled, whole, aligned, and purposeful by reading books, or taking quizzes, or listening to experts. You figure out what makes you come alive by taking action. by doing. By showing up for your life, each moment. Be present, pay attention, and notice your world as you intentionally pursue life and wholeness.
Don’t float through life doing the things you think you’re supposed to. Don’t numb yourself out of life with alcohol, endless scrolling, food, and tv. Find things that actually give you life instead of settling for a cheap imitation.
Additional Resources that can guide you to find your passion
Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance is a great book to help you better understand how to uncover your passion and use it to improve your life.