Finding a Passion
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman
Do you have a passion that drives you, fills your days, and is often top of mind for you? Is your job or career your passion? Was raising your children your passion? When younger, was it a sport or hobby that you pursued with dogged determination? Or is volunteering your passion? Volunteering with an organization that you believe so strongly in that you gladly dedicate hours of your time helping that organization?
Passion is the energy that motivates us to do things and keeps us going. It’s what prevents us from giving up when the going gets tough. It’s ultimately the force that provides the power for us to succeed at work and in life. Without passion, life would be pretty “beige”. Passion is what makes the difference between having a fulfilling and interesting life and just existing. It empowers all of us to live better lives.
Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”
In my lifetime, I have probably had several passions that have shaped my life and my career. But at the root of that passion is an unbounding desire to help people and to make a difference. Initially that desire manifested itself in my first career, that of a nurse. Being a nurse is the ultimate “helping” profession as nurses are responsible for the health and well-being of their patients for their entire work day. After nursing, I went into a career with ChildFind, as executive director of this organization that helped find children and keep them safe. My experience in both careers is what propelled me towards a career in politics. My path in life is rooted in my strong desire to make a difference. My many roles have reflected this calling to help make my community a better place.
If your career has been your passion, what happens when you retire? Will you miss that driving force? Will you feel aimless, drifting, like a lost ship at sea? One comment that I have heard from people when talking about retirement is to never retire from something, but to something. So, whether you retire to volunteering with an organization that you are passionate about, or you retire to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle to ensure that your golden years are spent in good health, it doesn’t matter. I believe that the key to successful retirement is to keep anticipation, excitement, dedication and hope alive by cultivating a passion in something.
I also believe that having a passion in life when you are young enables you to lead a happy and fulfilling life. If you are unhappy or bored about any aspect of your life, you will find that you feel unfulfilled. How do you find that passion? One way is to determine what things you are not passionate about – and try to eliminate those things from your life when possible. Then ask yourself what is it about your life and career that is meaningful and makes you feel fulfilled? What are some childhood dreams and ambitions that you had that you never acted on? If you could live your life over again, what would you do or be? What would make you feel proud? Unearthing the things that you are good at is a great way to discover a passion. The only thing that matters is that you enjoy doing them.
Retirement is also a good time to “re-invent” yourself. Maybe you can pursue your hobby in photography, writing or physical activity. This is often considered the “me” time – the perfect opportunity to dedicate time to pursue your passion. What would you like to do that would sustain you and become a passion? For the artist and creative thinker, it may be to design or make something that you would like to see. For a business person, it may be bringing a thing or service into being that people will find useful. For the writer, it may mean writing a book or a biography. And your passions may change over time.
Having a passion in your life means you wake up feeling energized and alive. It means being impatient to start your day. It’s like falling in love – there is hope and anticipation at the beginning of each day.
If you do not already have a passion that you are pursuing, I encourage you to take steps to discover your hidden passion. And this Thanksgiving, when you are listing the things in life that you are thankful for, I hope that you will be able to add your “passion” to that list. Good luck in your journey.