In a recent post I shared how if you want to “be the change” you want to see in the world, it is essential to do some inner exploration.  I call it “exploring your inner landscape” – those beliefs, stories, and emotions that unconsciously run your life.
Many of us from a young age know “in our bones” we are here to make a significant difference in the world. That said, a number of us have no clue as to what that difference is.
To get clear on the difference you are here to make, it is important to uncover your unique talents and identify your passions.
I particularly like the definition Janet and Chris Attwood give to the word “passion” in their book The Passion Test. They say that “your passions are the loves of your life … things that are most deeply important to you … things that, when you’re doing them or talking about them, light you up.” They also note that “passion and love are inextricably intertwined because both arise from the heart. When you follow your passion, you will love your life.”
When you discover your passion and live your life aligned with it, you feel truly joyful, fulfilled, and at peace. It lights your fire and fuels your enthusiasm for life. You feel that you are indeed doing something that makes a positive difference in the world.
We all have unique gifts and talents to share with the world. Here’s a short exercise to help you clarify yours.
1. Draw a chart with two columns. In the first column, write down all the things that you are good at, or things that come easily and naturally to you. They could be things such as athletics, mathematics, writing, whatever you feel fits.
2. In the second column, write down the things you enjoy doing. They could include being in nature, teaching others, using your body, playing piano….If you feel challenged by this, think back to what you enjoyed doing as a child.
3. Now look at both lists and circle the items that are similar or identical. Then review the circled items. Go inside and get in touch with the feeling each one evokes inside you. Does it excite you? Does it have little or no effect on you? Rate each item on a scale from 1 to 10 according to the level of passion you have around it (1 being “no interest at all” and 10 being “red hot”).
I encourage you to do this exercise. Sharing your findings with others has additional impact as you may gain insights and support from them.
I’d like to emphasize that just being good at something doesn’t mean it is your passion or will fulfill you if you work in that area. What you’re good at can provide clues to our passions but are not necessarily connected with them. A passion is often a blend of what we love and what we’re good at. As well, a passion may change during our lifetime. 
So, what’s next? After you discover your passion(s) it’s helpful to identify either a new area of work you wish to pursue or a volunteer activity that will “light you up”. Getting support from a coach or mentor can be helpful at this point.
An organization that I’m passionate about that is alignment with my passions of loving travel and working with diverse people and cultures, teaching, coaching, and mentoring, designing and co-creating workshops, projects and programs that have social impact, and my own love of learning, as well as my values of: contribution and connection is Female Wave of Change – https://femalewaveofchange.com. I am honored to be Ambassador for Canada of Female Wave of Change, a global movement that unites women (and some men) changing the world into a better place for future generations through authentic feminine leadership. As part of my commitment to growing the community in Canada I recently incorporated the national non-profit Female Wave of Change Canada – https://fwoccanada.com.
If you value being part of a community of heart-centered women from diverse backgrounds and cultures, are passionate about making a difference in one or several of the areas of: environment, education, economy, health, and humanity, I encourage you to check us out. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
 This section and exercise is largely excerpted from my book Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women, chapter 8, pp. 107-109.
Do you remember when you used to wake up excited about going to work?
Do you NOW usually drag yourself out of bed, rather than hitting the ground running?
Are you no longer “juiced” by what you do?
Do you feel SOoo tired at the end of the day?
If so, you are not alone. I’ve been there and so have many of my clients. When we drive ourselves for extended periods of time, we often lose our passion. That’s why I created the Rediscover Your Passion and Find the Career/Business of Your Dreams coaching program.
We all have unique gifts and talents to share with the world. Yet sometimes we lose touch with them or never have been given the opportunity or taken the time to reflect on what truly makes our soul sing. Here’s a short exercise to get started.
Draw a chart with 2 columns; in the one column Write down all the things that you are good at or things that come easily and naturally to you. It could be athletics, mathematics, writing … In the second column, write down things you enjoy doing. Could be “being in nature”; teaching others; using my body; playing piano … If you’re having a challenge with this, think back to what you enjoyed doing as a child.
Now look at both lists and circle the items that are similar, or are on both lists. Then review the circled items. Close your eyes, go inside and get in touch with the feeling each one evokes inside you. Does it excite you? OR Does it have little or no effect on you? Rate each item on a scale from 1 to 10 related to the level of passion you have around it – 1 being – “no interest at all” and 10 being – “red hot”. From this exercise, identify your top 3 to 5 passions. They may be: writing; contributing to a cause greater than myself; editing film.
Just because we’re good at something, doesn’t mean it is our passion or will fulfill us when we work in that area. I’m sure you know someone who was good at math, went on to study mathematics, taught it at school or university and over time was miserable and not at all happy teaching math everyday. So what we’re good at can provide clues to our passions but are not necessarily connected with them. Things we enjoy doing are normally better clues to what may be our passions. Passions are often a blend of what you love and what you’re good at. As well, passions may change throughout our lives.
To further explore your passions, here are some more questions to reflect and journal on.
- What would I like to do if I had all the time and money in the world?
- What are my hobbies?
- What is one thing I did as a child that I really enjoyed?
- When have I/do I get lost in what I’m doing (i.e. lose track of time)?
Did you discover anything new? I’d love to hear your comments and insights. Feel free to share the post with others.
Are you feeling that you want to make a bigger impact in the world? Is this the year you want to PLAY BIG?
It was mid-August 2010. I had launched my on-line coaching business 18 months before and had a network of coaches in Canada and the US. We were coaching people through various life transitions. I felt restless. I enjoyed the clients I worked with and the business was doing okay, but I felt like I wanted to make a bigger difference in the world. Can you relate?
At that time, I was taking a Body-Centred Coaching Program with Marlena Field (http://www.bodymindspiritcoaching.com/). During the last class I volunteered to do the demo with the instructor. It was a decision-making process that involved using your body to make decisions. I was told to find a line on the floor and to stand in front of it. I found a carpet in my office and stood as instructed. Marlena asked me to think about something that I really wanted and to deeply feel it in my body. She then said “notice any fears or doubts that come up for you when you think about that desire. Imagine that the fears and doubts are rocks in a knapsack on your back and let them all fall to the ground; release them. Think about what you want and cross that line on the floor as you choose. You may walk across it, run across it or leap across it. As you cross the line say aloud what you want. “
I recall leaping across the line and yelling “I want to PLAY BIG!” At that moment, I had no idea what PLAYING BIG meant. Within two weeks I received an email asking if I was interested in one of three positions in a new program the Canadian International Development agency was funding to support the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan. One of the positions had my name written all over it; Technical Advisor, Strategic Planning and Performance Measurement. I recall thinking how about 5 years before I had so wanted to have the opportunity to work in Afghanistan and to help women in that country.
After some reflection, I realized that I wanted to put my name forward for the position. I shared this with my partner Alan who was totally supportive. He encouraged me to go for it. Within two weeks I was being interviewed for the position. In mid-October I was on the ground in Kabul on a 9 month contract to assist the Ministry of Public Health to develop their first strategic plan and to build the capacity of internal teams to do strategic and operational planning. For me this was truly PLAYING BIG!
Has something similar happened to you? Do you want to PLAY BIG but aren’t sure what that means? I encourage you to try the tool above and see what happens. I’d love to hear your experiences! Feel free to share and comment.
P.S. The line on the floor I leapt across was an Afghan prayer mat that had been gifted to me a number of years before!