Path to Passion

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?

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Such a great post! I relate to this so much because I have been going through a lot of changes in what I really love this past year. It can be hard sometimes, but I feel like I am finally getting onto the right path for me!



Have you read Scott Adam's op ed, I think it was in the wall street journal? It's basically an excerpt from his new book. I thought his take on passion was so interesting.

Maureen McCarthy

I graduated college in May of this year and was an extremely involved and busy student. I got 4.0's frequently and multiple professors asked me to be a TA for their classes. So it was pretty much assumed by people that I would have a great job out of college. It's been almost 5 months since graduation and I still don't have a job. While I have been looking, I haven't been devoting ALL my time to looking. Now that I've actually slowed down I've realized I didn't exactly know what my passion was. What I thought I loved in college, really isn't what I love. There have been very few jobs I've looked at that have felt right or like they would be a good fit. It's been extremely hard to deal with all the "What are you doing now?" or "Why don't you have a job yet?" questions from everyone…but I am finally just figuring out what my passion is and is not something I ever thought would be my passion. So now the tricky part is figuring out how to follow my passion and make it a career. I'm sure people think I'm being lazy or that I am spoiled that my parents are supporting me…but I am SO glad I didn't make a bad decision that would have made me move to a new city with a job that I instantly regretted. Whoops, this is a long comment!


I just started my first year of college and have felt completely overwhelmed by all the life choices I now have to face head on. It's funny because I made a post tonight ( concerning a realization I had about finding happiness in life through what I do. All summer and the first month of school, I didn't have the time/energy/motivation to write at all and it felt like I had lost a part of myself. Now more than ever, I'm using my writing to find solace from anxiety. It just took me a hiatus to figure out what I was truly passion about.


This post has helped me realise I need to follow my passion so thank you for helping!! I am in a new job and my manager and I have had a clash of personalities which has made my working life really difficult. Due to surgery I have been off work for a couple of weeks and this makes me less eager to go back but after reading this I have realised I applied for this job for a reason and I was chosen out of 160 people for a reason. One man should not stop me!! Thank you for being an inspiration and I absolutely love your blog even tho I am all the way in the UK!! xxx

Sarah hood

The timing of this post is amazing. I came to school this fall thinking I had the next 6 years (PharmD) of my life planned out… but then I realized that it's a lot of work for something that I don't love. Luckily, I'm in a position to change my path now. Like you said with the small tweaks, I'm not being hasty with this change. Who knows if it's a "phase" or not? And the questions revolving around job security and the economy keep swirling around in my head. It's terrifying, absolutely terrifying and not what I imagined my first year at school being. But the tug towards what I love, rather than what I'm good at and would have a great career in, is too much to shrug off.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and being such a powerful figure for me to look to for advice and ideas. Even though we've never met, I talk about your posts (on all forms of social media) to the girls here at school like you're a good friend of mine 🙂


Argyle Girl

This post is so inspiring! I'm in my second year of college and sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who isn't quite sure about what they want to do with their life. Your Path of Passion really put things into perspective and now I don't feel like I'm just wasting time until I know 100% what I want to do with my life. Its a path, and all the little choices I make (even the wrong ones) are guiding me down it. Thank you!
-Argyle Girl

Salli Mandel

I love this! Although I'm only in freshman year of high school, I'm always thinking about college and what I want to do afterwards. You are an inpsiration <3
xx salli

Jessica Joyce

I'm in college, so I'm sure that I had the same feelings that you did. I do overestimate my thought process, so I think I know what I'm doing, but sometimes I get bursts of nervousness, scared of the unknown future.
I think that it really is just a matter of following what I love, and I need to get to doing that immediately, so that I'm not wasting my time.

Your Friend, Jess

Jackie {York Avenue}

You're lucky that you found something you are passionate about, and are able to do it. It's not always easy to figure out, but I think like you said, it's important to listen to what is tugging at you. When your instincts tell you something feels right, it's important to listen and at least explore that direction in some capacity.


THANKYOU for this. I've been going through that mid-college crisis as of late, with seemingly endless frustrations blocking my path sometimes.
Thoughts like this help to keep us going!



I'm loving this quote from Brandon Stanton of HONY (courtesy of reddit). Following your passion and HONY… What could be better??
"If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?"
Don't wait for perfect. So many people need everything mapped out in their head before beginning something. HONY is nothing like I originally envisioned when I moved to New York. Nothing. You learn by doing. Just begin, work hard, and figure it out as you go.


It's like you are reading my mind with all of your posts lately! 🙂
Last November, I decided to leave a job that I hated. I looked at my life, and realized that I was 22 and working 100+ hours a week at a job I hated (literally, had to pep talk myself every morning to just walk through the door), surrounded by horrible people, and not getting paid nearly enough. It took me over 2 months to finally leave and I have to say, it was the best decision I have ever made. I'm now doing something (well multiple things) that I am so passionate about. I am excited to wake up every morning and see what the day will bring (it's also nice not to have an anxiety attack whenever my phone rings…). Sometimes, like you said, it can just be a small adjustment; but, I really feel like those big adjustments, when you don't know what it going to happen next and cant wait to find out, are the ones that will truely help you discover something that you love! I think Thoreau said it best: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you have imagined"
Good luck on your new adventures! I'm excited to see what you have in store for yourself 🙂


Beautifully put! love that 'path to passion' is kind of what i discussed in my post but ah i did not sum it up into such a fitting and precise statement. Thanks for the thoughts!