I’ve been saying the words “Path to Passion” all the time as of late. I first started thinking about this idea of the path to passion when I was on a Google Hangout panel with my ever-favorite Kate White. It kind of stumbled out of my mouth and then kept bouncing around for about a week following. I can’t even remember what the question was, but my response about the path to passion has been on my mind.
Right now, I am completely passionate about what I do. I love this blog. I cannot wait to share the latest project I’ve been working on. I love writing and meeting people and working with companies, big and small. I love the great, fun parts so much that I even love the not-so-fun parts (like the accounting).
When I was in college, I think I thought that I was going to wake up one morning and know exactly what it was that I wanted to do “for the rest of my life.” I don’t even think I went about seeking what I was passionate about, it just happened. I’m thankful that I was somehow sorting through the weeds of life on my own. Steering a little bit here and there until I arrived at where I am. And, frankly, I’m still doing the steering. The passion is evolving. Because it’s the path to passion that makes everything interesting.
As a coxswain, you learn early on that steering straight and steering the best course is all about how you adjust the rudder. Big, abrupt changes will cause the boat to zig zag. The course becomes long and more difficult to row, the boat unset. Tiny adjustments keep the boat relatively straight, but you can still change course by a degree or two (which can make a big difference in the long run… like missing the arch of a bridge!) without hurting the boat’s set or the rowers’ focus at all. Sometimes something obstructs the course like another boat or a giant wake or a log or (surprise!) a bridge… then you have to really push one of the toggle to clear the obstruction.
I think following your path to passion is a little like how coxswains steer a boat. You make tiny adjustments along the way, but sometimes you have to make a big move one way or the other.
The tricky part is figuring out what those small adjustments need to be. I always trust my gut, while not ignoring the data. I can generally tell (with the help of my instinct) what feels “good” and what doesn’t feel good. Looking back at my path to passion, I didn’t think accounting felt good and my gut was telling me to find a way to act creatively. I’ve always been a painter, but that was harder to do in college. So I took to writing. It felt good, so I followed that. Along the way, I’ve experimented with different things and the changes have been so minute that it’s hard to even pinpoint how the right decisions are distinguished from the wrong ones. (I firmly believe that the wrong ones were simply there to steer me back to the right course.)
Sometimes they were bigger… like the magazine I launched in college. The night before we launched the pilot issue, I knew it wasn’t right for me. I was anxious and stressed, but not in my normal excited way. Too many things did not align for that project. I kept with it for a while to really figure out what wasn’t working for me throughout and which parts were the ones I really enjoyed. When I finally left, I knew why and I knew how to use that to guide my path to passion even more.
The most magical part about your path to passion is when you feel a tug in one direction. There’s no real data behind why you want to go that one way… why you want to sign up for that class… why you want to take a chance on yourself… but you do it anyway. Because you feel like you need to. And you’re even further along on your path to passion. The path, I think, can speak to you in the same way that you can speak to it.
Where are you on your path to passion?