If it makes you happy, it is what you’re supposed to do. – Pat Rodegast
I used to think that I wanted to own a little French café. I love to cook food, eat food, take photos of food, read about food and talk to other people about food. After I looked into what it really takes to run a café – and that most of it has to do with running a business and very little to do about food – I realized that I did not want to own a little French café, I just wanted to spend a lot more time sitting in one.
How did this revelation of mine help me identify my purpose?
First, I dug deeper into my attraction to French cafes and asked myself to identify the thoughts and the feelings I experienced when imagining myself owning one. I realized that they evoked a sense of peace. I feel creative when making beautiful food. I feel an increase in energy in my body when eating nature’s fresh ingredients. I feel a sense of security and abundance and I think “I have plenty” when I see food displayed around me. I also realized that I wanted to share all of these experiences with others – that’s probably why I envisioned a café where others could gather to share in good food.
Yet, as soon as I considered myself poring over spreadsheets, dealing with employees, checking inventory and appeasing customers, I knew that I would not be experiencing any of the feelings and thoughts that I had originally imagined.
If you are one of those people who have always known what you wanted to do with your life and have found a way to do so while earning a great living – complete with health insurance and retirement benefits – that is wonderful. However, the rest of us have been tripped up by either not knowing what we want to do with our lives in the first place, or if we do know, not knowing how to pursue our passion while tending to the rest of our real world responsibilities.
I can hear a lot of readers now – “But, I don’t know what I’m passionate about!” Oh, yes you do.
All of the things we love doing, dreaming about, talking about, reading about or indulging in are our passions. I used to ask myself how I would want to spend a month off from work, assuming I was well-rested, had all the money in the world, no judgment or criticism from anyone else and freedom from all responsibility. I came up with a few things like traveling, writing, charitable work, creating a business and cooking.
Our passions may seem unrelated, but there are usually common themes that connect all of our interests together. Those underlying themes are our purpose.
A lot of negative voices in my head came up with many reasons for why I could not or should not pursue my passions. I, like many, assumed that I had to be able to make a living doing it. I felt that if I hadn’t quit my day job, then I was not yet a success in my new pursuit.
We may think that we do not have enough education or expertise. We may have self-doubt and fear of failure. Perhaps someone else is engaged in a similar pursuit and we feel there is no room for us to do the same thing. Many fear that others will disapprove or even get angry and try to sabotage our efforts. Perhaps we are caught in “analysis-paralysis” and are looking for a guarantee of success before leaping into action. Perhaps we simply feel negative about our dream and assume it will just never work because we are convinced things never work out for us.
I didn’t try to shoo away these negative voices. I acknowledged them and thanked them for alerting me to any obstacles that I might need to navigate. However, I also reminded myself of what Jack Canfield says: “You are not given a dream unless you have the capacity to fulfill it.” The road may not always be smooth, but there is always a way to achieve our goals if we take one step at a time.
Instead of opening that little French café, I pursued my passion for cooking in my own home a lot more than I had before. When I need to clear my head and get back to center, I head to the kitchen.
Since no one can eat as much food as I enjoy making, I began cooking for a family facing food insecurity in our city. I am able to help those surrounded by liquor stores and fast food joints and processed food sold at convenience stores with fresh nutritious food that hopefully gives them a sense of security and of abundance – and more physical energy and a feeling of health.
Without realizing it at first, I had combined my passion for cooking and my passion for charitable work into one venture. It has given me a sense of fulfillment that I had not been experiencing before. Do I have plans to do this passion of mine professionally – in other words, making money from it? Nope. And I probably never will.
Do you see how – especially now in our very innovative world – we can bring our passion and purpose to the world in so many different ways? When we feel a sense of fulfillment because we are living our true calling – in whatever form that may take – we have achieved ultimate success.