It’s normal to feel a little lost sometimes or even a little uninspired at work. But what does it mean when you’re feeling this way more often than not? It could be that you’ve hit a slump or that the thing that used to make you stoked to get up every day is on hiatus.
Or it could be something bigger.
If you’re lacking motivation or a feeling of excitement in your life or work, you might be missing a key ingredient to happiness and success (whatever your definition of success might be): passion.
“Passion is the thing that makes you feel alive,” New York City-based Certified Professional Life Coach Lisa Daron says. “It’s waking up in the morning feeling excited about the day to come, finishing the day with a sense of fulfillment, accepting challenges and taking risks. It’s the thing that won’t let you go, the thing that is attached to you by a bungee cord. No matter how many times you try to walk away, it yanks you right back. Put simply, it’s what you love.”
While it might sound fluffy to seek out passion, checking in on your life path and ensuring you’re headed in the direction you desire can be a valuable exploration of self and motivation. There is a lot of potential fulfillment—and flow, as Daron puts it—that could be available to you if your passion is not being realized.
How to Know If Your Passion is AWOL
If you suspect something might be missing from your world, or that perhaps you’re less jacked up on life than usual, know that you’re not broken or alone.
“We are all passionate beings, so it’s never about ‘not living our passions’ but more so about why we are in the waiting place,” Daron says. “We all get stuck every now and again, which is a good time to uncover what’s blocking us from moving towards the things we want.”
Feeling stagnant doesn’t mean you don’t have passion, it just might mean that we’ve been given an opportunity to look inside ourselves. “It’s in this waiting place that we can take the time to reignite the passion and curiosity we so desire,” she says
There are a few things to look for that might indicate you’re in that waiting place, or that your passion has dwindled.
“Sometimes it shows up through our inner critic—the voice telling us we’re not good enough, creative enough, or ready enough,” Daron told us, adding that you might also feel unmotivated, unhappy, disconnected or lacking in creativity. You might also find yourself in a holding pattern, playing it safe, or noticing that being uncomfortable—like something is “off”— has become comfortable.
If you get to the end of the day and you feel unsatisfied or downtrodden, there might be space in your existence for more of what fuels you.
How Do We Find Our Passion?
The secret, Daron says, is being curious. “We all have passion and purpose within us,” she says. “Our lives are a journey of continually staying curious and discovering the passions that are within us.”
She recommends first removing any pressure or any sense of blame you might be feeling surrounding this. “Some of us are born knowing what we’re passionate about, but for those of us who don’t know exactly what we want to be at a young age, ‘living one’s passion’ can sometimes be more anxiety inducing than exciting,” Daron says.
The key to living a passionate life is making a lifelong commitment to staying curious. Without necessarily having one narrowly defined passion, things might feel “off”from time to time. It’s helpful to stay open to the element of surprise that comes with committing to curiosity and self-discovery. In her practice, Daron sees clients following their curiosity; there, she sees passionate lives unfolding.
How to Identify Your Passion
Noticing that passion might be lacking is the first step, but actually uncovering what that passion (or passions) can be a little more difficult.
Daron recommends a few exercises and questions you can ask yourself in your curious exploration to start to unravel the mystery of what you truly desire. These powerful questions can inform goal-setting and are especially effective if you talk them out with someone else (like a friend or a life coach) or if you use them as a writing exercise.
Identify Where Your Flow Exists
Where in your life do you find flow, where do things feel easeful and natural, where you really feel in sync with what you’re doing and who you’re with?
Reflect on Past Experience
Spend time thinking about a peak life experience and the values, feelings and activities that made you feel alive. Identify the values that showed up for you during this moment and let those values be your internal compass. These might illuminate patterns to seek out in other experiences.
You might also want to think of a time when you showed your strength. What was happening? How did you know that was a prime example of what you’re capable of?
Think of Role Models
Who inspires you and why? What about them makes you want to emulate their lives or behaviors?
Find a Cause
Identify the causes in your life that you feel drawn to. What does this say about your values and passions?
Act on Inspiration
When inspiration strikes, act on it! Write, dance, phone a friend! Just don’t let it pass you by!
Be in Gratitude
Openly acknowledge what you have to be grateful for. Gratitude is one way to increase levels of positivity; positivity enables purpose and passion!
Move Towards What You Fear
Often, we fear the things that matter most (and sometimes, fear is the biggest thing standing in the way of achieving what you want). Taking risks and investing in challenging yourself can uncover powerful strengths and new passions you might not have known you had access to.
How to Know You’re Living Your Passion
“When you identify your core values and live in alignment with those, you allow your inspired, positive, curious self to recognize and act on what you truly desire,” Daron says. “I often hear energy and passion in the voices of my clients who have decided to make a move towards the things that matter most. Trust when there is excitement in your voice and your body.” This is a good indicator that things are moving with what the heart wants.
You might experience a spark or a feeling of lightness when you talk about your direction. Losing track of time or feeling truly in the flow might also indicate you’re living your passion. When those feelings of inadequacy or fear start to diminish, replaced instead by presence, readiness to be seen, or frequent joy, you’ll know you’re headed down the right path.
She also advises that pausing to listen to yourself, acting on intuition, and finding joy in the journey, are good signs you’re following your passion.
The Key is to Trust Yourself
When you trust yourself, and trust that your passions are deep within you, waiting for the right time to show up, you’ll start to uncover what might be missing.
As Daron advises, “Ask yourself what you want, and listen for those answers. Stop distracting yourself. Put down the cell phone, turn off the TV, close the computer, and listen. You’re answers are waiting to be uncovered.”
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