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
These 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.
November 4, 2013 @ 3:56 PM
Thanks Ali for reading the book and I’m glad it lit a few fires inside of you.
November 5, 2013 @ 8:58 PM
Thanks for writing it, Kim!
November 5, 2013 @ 5:13 PM
This is a great book review – speaks from your heart… where the fire lives.
Think I’ll pick up a copy. Thanks Ali!
Can’t wait to see where that fire takes you next (literally and metaphorically speaking)
November 5, 2013 @ 9:01 PM
Thank you so much, Maria! I hope you do get a copy, it’s really wonderful, helpful and encouraging.
I can’t wait to see where it takes me too!
November 5, 2013 @ 8:50 PM
Thanks Ali. Just one question, when is it too late to follow hat dream?
November 5, 2013 @ 9:02 PM
I don’t think it’s ever too late! What do you want to do? Go for it!
November 6, 2013 @ 3:52 AM
So glad to hear that you’re following your dreams and practicing something new for you like writing. Excited to see where life continues to lead you. 🙂
November 6, 2013 @ 11:09 AM
Than you Cheryl!
November 6, 2013 @ 3:54 AM
I can definitely relate. Although I have a lot of things I like to do, I’m not sure any of them really adds up to a career. And maybe I don’t want to turn my passions into a career. Or maybe I’m just scared. I don’t know. But starting off by traveling is a good step, I think. It’s something scary and big I thought I could never do, so who knows what’s possible? Thanks for sharing your story. It’ll be interesting to see how it progresses!
November 6, 2013 @ 11:13 AM
Thanks Carmel! Yeah, not everyone wants to turn a passion into a career, and that’s totally fine. I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. I love to travel, which is how I ended up blogging, and even though I do enjoy blogging, the little I’ve seen of what it’s like to make blogging a career lets me know it’s not for me. Other than blogging, I’m pretty new to writing, so we’ll see how it goes. I value my time more than a salary these days, so I don’t necessarily need a full blown career out of it, but it would be nice to create something and put it out there for others to (hopefully) enjoy. I’m sure you and Shawn will have an amazing time traveling, and it’ll teach you all kinds of things about yourselves and what you want out of life. And if you are scared, I bet you’ll be much less so by the end of your trip!
Mary @ Green Global Travel
November 8, 2013 @ 1:59 AM
Congratulations Ali! It sounds as though you know exactly what you want and are making it happen! That sounds like a life on fire to me! I am going to check out Kim’s book and will look forward to yours!
November 10, 2013 @ 4:52 PM
Thanks Mary! I’m not sure I know *exactly* what I want, but I’m working on getting there! Kim’s book was really good, I definitely recommend it. And thanks, hopefully I’ll get my novel figured out soon!
November 15, 2013 @ 11:39 AM
Huh, great insight! Oddly enough I really, really enjoyed writing as a child. I was even published in Ranger Rick Magazine and won a young writers award that I got to travel to Washington DC and accept. Guess writing was my calling then!
You’ll figure it out. It’s hard to move to another country where your options are limited. It can really make you lose sight of yourself. Maybe you’re putting too much thought into it? Just let your passion find you again.
November 18, 2013 @ 6:02 PM
Yeah, I have a million questions to ask a thousand different offices here in Germany, but I’ll figure something out. Thanks!
November 18, 2013 @ 2:25 AM
I can definitely relate to this blog post! Thoughts of what I want to do with my life, career-wise have been going through my mind non-stop – I have a job that I enjoy, but I’m not sure if it is really my calling in life. I am slowly making changes to move towards things that I enjoy a little bit more, and will see where these small steps take me! I heard that people change careers several times in their lives nowadays. It is a good thing that you are at least thinking about your life this way and making the motions to reach your goals – some people never do this! Best of luck with everything!
November 18, 2013 @ 6:04 PM
Thanks Lauren! As frustrating as it is to not exactly know what I want to do or how to do it, I am very glad I have the opportunity to try to figure it out. I hope you find what you’re meant to be doing as well!