She was burnt out. I could see the pain in her eyes as we spoke. We met up because she’s interested in the Meaning Movement and felt like she needed some help.
Her situation was tough: her supervisor was not supportive. She could barely get out the door in the mornings. She was having breakdowns on Sunday nights in anticipation of the week ahead. It was heart breaking to hear her talk about it. She shouldn’t have to endure such an intensely difficult situation, yet this is where she was at the time. She needed to make some changes. It almost didn’t matter what she did next, as long as she could do something else.
Finding your passion purpose, purpose, and calling begins with making space.[Tweet that]
Before you choose a specific way to make your impact — before finding your passion — you may need to create the space for possibilities. In the face of impossibility— when life feels like a cage — no real movement can take place. You must begin by seeking freedom from what keeps you bound. Once a sense of possibility begins to appear (and only then) you can explore options and choose the work that makes the most sense and has the most meaning.
If you try to answer the question, “what should I do with my life?” without a sense of possibility present, your answer will be mostly about what keeps you from feeling free. Without space for possibility, you won’t have room to explore anything else. Finding your passion is about who you are in the deepest parts of yourself. Your deepest desires won’t be discernible until you make room for them to show themselves.
Parker Palmer — who I always quote 😉 — speaks of vocation as a wild animal. You may glimpse it here or there but you can’t find it by going crashing through the woods calling it’s name. I believe this is because our desires are sensitive— they’re personal, and connected to tender places in our lives. If we have not learned to fight the negative and critical voices, and explore the stories from which they’ve come, then we cannot expect our deepest desires to be discernible. They won’t come out to play until there’s space for them. Your work — our work — is to make that space.
A gardener can’t force her plants to grow and bloom, but she can clear the weeds and tend the soil. Our desires and passions need to be tended in such a way. You may need to work on arranging your internal and external world to allows for some extra room.
Before you get your dream job, you need a good job.[Tweet that]
Before you know what you want to do, you need to know who you are.[Tweet that]
Externally, that may look like a job that doesn’t suck the life out of you, yet still pays the bills. This doesn’t have to be the most meaningful work in the world, it just needs to sustain you while you answer the bigger questions. Or it may look like finding people that are more supportive of you. You can’t dream if the people in your life are dream killers. Finding your passion is difficult, if not impossible, without a supportive environment.
Internally, this requires exploring the stories that keep you from feeling free. Write the stories. Tell your stories. Draw, paint, sculpt, sing, or dance your stories. The more you explore the meaningful scenes in your life, the more you’ll understand who you are. The more you understand who you are, the more easily finding your passion will come.
Start by making space.
In the comments, when have you felt a good amount space to explore and what resulted from it? Or just add your thoughts. Click here to comment.
Good post Dan! I love the Parker Palmer quote here. And indeed, we all need to take space to be in our lives.
Thanks for reading Neil!
“Write the stories”. This phrase, in this context, in this moment feels incredibly wise and knowing. You are challenging more than acknowledgement. You are suggesting I play, work with, and allow for my passions to emerge. I so appreciate these words.
I’ve come back to this post a few times now in the past week and each time need what it has to say. I really appreciate your linkage of vocation with desire and how sensitive both can be. I often forget how the process of uncovering that space takes effort and intentionality time and time again. Thanks for writing!