What would life be like if you were following your passions? For many people, living a passionate life went out the window a long time ago. As more responsibility, bills, and time constraints demand the focus in our life it can seem unrealistic to believe we can follow a calling or share our creative gifts with the world. Fortunately, this humdrum day to day life doesn’t have to be a reality. I had the pleasure of interviewing Barrie Davenport about how to uncover and live with greater passion. Barrie is a life passion coach, writer, and founder of BarrieDavenport.com, a site devoted to helping people uncover and live their life passions. She is the author of The 52-Week Life Passion Project and the free guide, The Passion Myths: 6 Lies Keeping Your from Uncovering Your Life Passion. I connected with Barrie a few years ago when I started this blog. She was kind enough to let me guest post on her site and I am pleased to introduce her to you today.
How did you get involved with helping people uncover their passions? How did you find out that this was your passion?
I previously had a long career as a public relations professional, working in the corporate and agency worlds, as well as having my own consultancy after I had children. My oldest daughter had the passion of becoming a professional ballet dancer, and during her high school years, I put my PR business on the back burner while I helped her with her goal. I had to drive her 60 miles round trip twice a day to her ballet studio to train. So that took up a great deal of time, in addition to my having to care for my two other children. When my daughter left home to pursue her dream, I regained hours of time that I could devote to my career. But I couldn’t get excited about my PR business anymore. I was totally uninspired by it, and it felt meaningless promoting other people’s goods and services. This was a really scary time because I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I felt quite aimless and felt it was too late for me to start over or do something different. I didn’t think I had the education or skills to do anything else. But my restlessness and the desire to find something that made me feel passionate kept driving me to figure it out. I took assessments, workshops, read books, went to a coach, did a bunch of research – and from everything I learned, a coaching career seemed like a potential avenue for me. I discovered I was passionate about helping people change their lives for the better. I went back to school, got certified as a personal coach, and started a coaching business. In order to market the business, I created a blog. As I learned more about blogging, I discovered another passion for writing and blogging. With my first blog, Live Bold and Bloom, I was writing about many personal development topics, but I saw that people had a hunger to find their passions and do something with their lives that made them come alive. That was the impetus to start my new site, BarrieDavenport.com, devoted specifically to helping people do just that.
What does it mean to live a passionate life? How would someone know if they’re living passionately?
It means different things to each person because we all have something unique that drives us. But in general, it means being deeply engaged in something in your life, whether through your career, a hobby, lifestyle or volunteer work. Whatever this something is, it makes you feel alive and excited to pursue it every day. When you are engaged in it, you are in that “flow” state where time disappears and you are intently and joyfully focused on what you are doing. The enthusiasm for it spills over into all areas of your life, offering you a general sense of happiness and life satisfaction. You have more energy and motivation, with little or no resistance to doing what needs to be done. I would equate it to the feeling of being in love. You wake up with a joyful feeling of anticipation. Problems don’t feel so overwhelming. You have a spring in your step. Living passionately can provide a sense of a larger purpose for your life, especially if your passion is aligned with your life values. When you consistently wake up in the morning eagerly looking forward to your day because you have something exciting going on, then you know you are living passionately.
What have you found to be the most common “passion impasses” or reasons why people are out of touch with their passions?
I write about this extensively in my free guide, The Passion Myths: 6 Lies Keeping You from Uncovering Your Life Passion. One of the most common impasses is the belief that you don’t have a passion. As adults, we have years of responsibilities and obligations that have pulled us away from our deepest desires. We go down a particular path in life and with our careers that might have nothing to do with our true passion. Perhaps well-meaning parents encouraged us in a direction that wasn’t what we really wanted. Maybe we took a job because it was the first one to come along or it paid well. Then we get entrenched in these lives, moving farther and farther away from the years when we had time to experiment and try new things. Our lives get so busy that we feel numb to the possibility of change, believing that the opportunity has passed, and we no long have a passion. But if you give yourself just an hour a week to set aside to do the working of uncovering your passion, you can create the momentum to turn things around. There is a passion inside of everyone. It just takes time and focus to find it.
What are the top two or three things people should do to help them uncover their passions?
The first thing they should do is make the commitment to uncovering it by giving themselves the gift of an hour a week to work on it. Life passion doesn’t fall from the sky and land in your lap. You must do the self-discovery work, do the research and experimentation, and take the actions to uncover it. You need to be willing to devote some time to this. Also, it is really important for people to get clear on their core life values. These are the non-negotiable principles around which you want your life and work to center. You need to find the places in your life where you are not living in alignment with your values. For example, if family is a core value, but you are working 10-12 hours a day with little time with family, then you aren’t honoring your values. When you get clear on your values and correct the areas of your life where you aren’t living them, then you open up emotional energy to work on your life passion. Your values can serve as benchmarks for making decisions around areas of interest that might be your passion. Your life passion needs to support your values. Otherwise, you will not sustain passionate feelings about it because it will grate against your integrity.
What would you suggest to someone who feels stuck and is afraid to leave a comfortable job to follow their passions?
Just the act of taking control of your life and seeking your passion will make you feel more self-confident and create some momentum for you. If you are in a position where it’s impossible to change jobs, then work on your passion in another way – as a hobby or volunteer project. Find a way to insert it in your life, and you may find that it opens doors of opportunity for your career. Even if it doesn’t your life will be much more interesting and exciting because you have something passionate going on outside of work. You can also try to find ways to shift your current job to be more in alignment with your passion. For example, if you love to teach, maybe you can be involved in training or mentoring at your job. You never know what your employer might be willing to do if you don’t ask. Many employers are motivated to find ways to help employees work in ways best suited to their personality types and aptitudes. But you have to communicate your desires to them.
Is there anything else you want to share?
I am releasing a new book at the end of November called The 52-Week Life Passion Project. It features 52 weekly lessons and actions to help people do the work of uncovering what makes them come alive and then figuring out how to make that part of their lives. For anyone ready to devote an hour a week to this important work, this book will serve as a great guide to lead your toward your life passion.