At the end (and beginning) of the romantic-comedy, Pretty Woman, a man crosses the street and shouts to no one in particular, “Welcome to Hollywood! Everybody comes here has a dream. What’s your dream?”
When was the last time someone asked you about your dream?
I recently asked high school students, “What’s your dream?” Tears swelled in the eyes of a 17-year-old teenager. “My dream?” he asked. “Nobody’s ever asked me that question before.”
Schools provide students with calendars, planners, and tools to organize information and meet course objectives. However, they rarely know how to use the tools to articulate their dreams, pursue their passions, and choose personal goals that set them on fire. As a result, students mature into adults who are prepared to meet everyone else’s goals but their own.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure,” insists Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love. She adds, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?”
Discovering your passion can be excruciatingly difficult – especially if you are moving through a life transition or forgot what makes you feel happy. The tips listed below will help you find your passion, launch a new beginning, and fill your life with purpose and meaning:
- Make a list. What do you like to do? What is enjoyable? Recall what you liked to do when you were a child. Childhood memories may remind you of all of the things you loved to do and filled you with joy.
- Create a vision board. A vision board is a display of pictures and phrases of ideas, experiences, and desires you wish to experience. When you surround yourself with inspiring words and images by creating a vision board, you welcome new ideas and exciting possibilities into your life. What words inspire you? What photos remind you of things you enjoy to do? Cut inspiring images and meaningful phrases from magazines. Group words and photos into themes on a sheet of poster board. This helped me articulate my passions into words (I explain how here).
- Remember what makes you feel grateful. A daily gratitude practice shifts your focus from what you do not have to appreciation for all of the gifts in your life. What talents do you possess? What personal skills would you like to sharpen? What resources are available to you?
- Write positive affirmations. Put the positive in your affirmation by focusing deliberate intention on what you want to experience. Affirmations are pumped with power when you express them in present tense; they are personal and specific. If you want to explore your writing skills, an affirmation such as “Great ideas flow to me in a river of abundance” invites inspiration and affirms your unique ability to craft a story people want to hear.
- Do something you love every day. You may not have the resources to quit your job or abandon other responsibilities, but you can pursue your passion while juggling work and other responsibilities. Focus on the time you have; not the time you do not have within your day.
- Keep a written record of your passions. How do you want to make a difference in the world? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind? Keep a notebook near your bed or in your purse. Wonderful opportunities or new ways of doing things often unexpectedly arrive to us in random thoughts. Make notes about ways you can pursue your passions.
- Enroll in classes. Leaf through course catalogs and pay attention to the course titles that capture your interests. Colleges, local community centers, and libraries often offer a variety of courses and workshops that allow you to explore your passions at no or limited costs.
- Network with others. Find a group with members who share your passions and interests. Many groups and organizations have well-organized and detailed directories that promote special events and attract new members. Meet-up groups offer opportunities for like-minded individuals with shared passions to gather together. Local libraries, local community centers, and on-line networking groups provide information and resources that connect individuals to inspire and motivate one another.
“We are all meant to shine, as children do,” adds Marianne Williamson. “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Every successful individual began their journey with a passion. They did not allow other people or unfortunate circumstances to steer them away from pursuing their dreams. They made a commitment to themselves and to their passion and supported their words with action.
Are you up for the challenge?