Purpose, Passion and the Search for What Lights Your Fire

Finding my purpose, the thing I’m supposed to be doing, is something I’ve given a lot of thought to over the past few years. Nine years working in aviation insurance showed me that insurance, and corporate jobs in general, are not for me.

But what is the right path?

What’s that thing that will light me up and make me excited to get out of bed each day?

When will I know I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As kids, most of us were asked this question over and over. But I have no idea what my answer was when I was a kid. My friend Kim Dinan from So Many Places wrote a book recently called Life On Fire describing how to listen to your inner voice and follow your passion. She explains how so many of us stopped listening to our inner voice for one reason or another, and this is why we aren’t doing what we’re meant to be doing. We followed a path we thought was the right one because someone told us our dreams were silly or unpractical or that we’d never make a living that way.

But we have to ignore those people and listen to that voice that leads us to our passion. I read her book to see if I could gain any insight about what my purpose is. In her book she says whatever you loved to do as a kid is, in some way, what you want to do as an adult. So if you constantly drew pictures as a child, you should be an artist of some kind, or if you loved to play with animals, maybe you should be a veterinarian.

Somehow I don’t have memories of things like this. I remember playing with Barbies, bowling and playing clarinet. I think we can all agree that Barbies are not a career choice. Bowling is fun, and Andy and I are now going once a week with an international group in Berlin, but I don’t have any desire to become a professional bowler or bowling alley employee. Playing clarinet was fun too, but I realized as I was considering trying out for the University of Georgia marching band that I really enjoyed it more for the social aspect than for the love of making music.

My love of travel was like a slow burn. It started when I went on three 10 day tours of Europe when I was 14, 15, and 16 years old. I loved the feeling of being somewhere new and different, I loved the history and how completely different it was from home. Along with this love of travel, I started taking Spanish classes and continued through college, eventually doing a study abroad program and earning a minor in Spanish. But I ended up in that awful insurance job where I never needed a foreign language, my Spanish knowledge rapidly deteriorated, and I didn’t travel outside the country for years.

Trying to reignite my passions

Life On Fire - A Step by Step Guide to Following Your DreamsThese days I’m trying to get used to telling people I’m a writer. I’ve been blogging for almost four years, I’ve written a few freelance articles (which I’m trying to do more of), and I’m working on a novel. I still feel incredibly awkward telling people I’m writing a novel. I feel like a fraud. Recently I remembered that, as a teenager, I submitted a poem to a contest. I didn’t win, but it was published…somewhere…along with all the other entrants. So maybe that was a tiny glimpse at a future passion?

I also really want to practice and improve my Spanish again. Though it’s extremely unclear where that will lead me, it’s something I truly enjoy, so it’s worth chasing. Some days Spanish and German are doing battle in my head, resulting in half German, half Spanish gibberish. It’s exhausting but hilarious.

I want a life on fire

I’m pretty convinced my inner voice has been in a coma for at least a decade. But if I look back I can see little signs of that voice trying to wake up: Finally deciding to take a trip to Greece by myself. Signing up for Spanish classes a few years ago and going to Ecuador to learn Spanish and live with a family for a week. Starting this blog (and this one) and writing things that, I hope, encourage people to get out there and see more of the world. The book idea I’ve been sitting on for over a year that I finally decided to start working on.

Kim’s book helped me see all of this. I still have a long way to go, but luckily her book gives step by step instructions on what to do to wake up your inner voice, find your passion, and live a life on fire. Her book provides encouragement while describing how she approached getting in shape (she lost 80 pounds and is now a marathon runner!) and how listening to her inner voice eventually led her to go after her dream of being a writer and traveling the world. I’ll read through it a few more times as I try to figure out how to be a writer and how learning Spanish might fit into my life in some way.

If you’re trying to figure out how to follow your passion, or how to find what your passion is, pick up a copy of Life on Fire: A Step-By-Step Guide To Living Your Dreams on Amazon.

Kim provided me with a free copy of her book, but as always, all opinions and epiphanies are my own.