Career rethink #3: Passion and purpose

What we are passionate about, and how we can be useful, is opaque to many of us. Luckily, there are people, books and websites devoted to adding clarity

passion and purpose heart

Passion and purpose, great idea. But how do we begin to hear the heartbeat? © Laura Eades 2014

In some ways, having maternity leave was the best thing that could have happened: I stopped all my projects and missions and … and … wondered what the hell, apart from being a mum, the purpose of my life was.

I found things on the internet that made me feel a whole lot less of a freak, and gave me some starting-points. Since I’ve talked to many people who are still looking for their raison d’etre, (or suspect it might be time for a new one), I’d like to share these inspiring, profound links.

Who’s it for? You’ve been successful with what you’re doing, and the rewards of that have numbed any sense of what you really care about or are interested in. Or: you suspect there’s a hobby or talent that you’ve overlooked on the way that might be worth returning to. Or: you can’t recall ever having had a clear sense of real purpose. 

This life coach is very real. What I mean by that, is that she’s not just a goal-setter; she’s really interested in the emotions that go alongside your quest to find passion in your life. I’m on her email list and her emails have real depth and humanity.

Her main focus is finding your life passion. She offers plenty of free resources on her site, and on her sister site, Live Bold and Bloom. She’s also in book and ebook form: The 52-week life passion project. Which I haven’t read, because 52 weeks sounds like a long time and a lot of homework. It’s not that long, though: two and a half years after leaving my job, I’m still wondering what to do next. I should have bought the book and used it, it would have been quicker!

If you’ve encountered any other brilliant coaches, I’d like to hear about them. Having someone ask you the right questions is an interesting way of approaching the whole work dilemma.

  • Chris Guillebeau‘s manifesto: A Brief Guide to World Domination (downloadable PDF)

‎Who’s it for? You’re feeling miserable about not having solved your work/identity issues, and wondering what job you should do. Chris Guillebeau raises the bar, asking instead: “What movement are you going to start?”

The manifesto is exciting and invigorating. He makes you feel like it’s conventional ideas of work that are at fault, not your failure to slot into them. It’s a call to arms to live differently, to be exceptional, to do something far far more exciting than the ordinary “should I stay a driving instructor or retrain as a sign language interpreter?” type of thinking.

Instead, he suggests you work on your own terms, combining two essential ingredients: what you’d like your life (your perfect day) to consist of, and how you can be helpful to others.

This latter factor was a revelation to me – I’d been doing theatre for years! I had only been thinking about what I wanted to make, not what anyone else needed…

Who’s it for? You’d like to use a life coach, or a career adviser, but you don’t have the time or money. You’d like to know, what matters to you? Here’s a 17-minute video fix of a career analysis process. 

Scott Dinsmore is the founder of a site called Live Your Legend. He outlines the three things you need in order to accomplish ‘the work only you are capable of doing’: Self knowledge (your strengths, your values, your experience); to push the boundaries of what you thought was possible; to surround yourself with people who inspire possibility. Easy!

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Have you uncovered a passion or purpose you never knew you had, or you’d overlooked along the way? I’d like to hear what that feels like! Click on the pale grey dot with a plus sign that’s under the blogpost to open the comments section.


Read more about Reworking Work on Illustrated Guide to Life: