Turn your Passion into Action
I originally wrote Turn Your Passion into Action as part of Ruth Soukup’s (creator/teacher of Elite Blog Academy) Sweet Spot Blog Tour. I spent such a long time trying to figure out what my passion actually was and then when I realized it, I didn’t know how to actually live it. Fear of failure and of others’ judgment held me back. In this post, I share with you how I came to FINALLY have the courage to love myself and live my passion.
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25 years ago – “You’ve decided to major in what?” my good friend, David, set his fork down, peering quizzically across the table at me. As many times before, we had gone out to eat together, spending the time talking and talking about this and that.
Our conversation steered in the direction of my college plans. “Education,” I told him.
“What happened to Communications?” David still hadn’t picked his fork back up. He stared intently at me waiting for me to answer.
“Well, I just plan to add education to my degree,” I said. “Communications will still be the main part of it.” I paused for a minute and sipped my Coke, thinking David might say something. He just stared, so I continued. “Dad says if I add education that will give me more opportunity in case the broadcasting or writing thing doesn’t work out.”
I could always tell what David thought by watching his eyebrows. They expressed most every emotion he conveyed. Now, I watched them knit into a skeptical, unsure ‘V’. “I see,” he said. “Kind of like a fall back plan.”
“Right,” I nodded at him but looked away not ready for him to challenge me on this.
“Is it what you want?”
“Well, sure, David,” I answered. “Why not? I’ll still major in communications. Public speaking. I’ll minor in English so I can have the writing background. And I’ll take the education classes, just in case.”
David chuckled, “But you love to talk, Julie. Public speaking fits you.”
“I know, David,” I laughed and tried to sound reassuring. To him and to myself. I really didn’t want to pursue an education degree, but Dad thought it would be the right thing, and I valued my Dad’s opinion. I also seldom strayed from what he suggested I do, in anything.
Picking up his fork again, David tackled his steak and sat chewing. I stared at him, not saying anything, waiting for him to finish. Waiting for him to say more.
He took another drink, wiped his mouth with his napkin, and sat back again. Still, I waited.
“Julie,” finally, he spoke. “Julie.” He said it again. “Do you remember when you told me you wanted to major in Communications?”
I thought back to several years before and remembered our first conversation about my future and what I wanted to accomplish in my life. I nodded at him.
He continued. “I teased you about it, remember? About how shy you are. About how impossibly funny it would be to have somebody so admittedly shy actually major in speaking in front of people.”
“I know, David.”
“I know, too. You told me about spending every year in school from kindergarten on in the principal’s office at least once and usually more for talking too much in class.” He laughed a little remembering that, and I did too.
“It’s true,” I told him.
“Yes, I know.” He laughed again, and then went on. “You told me then that while you might struggle to meet new people and to create friendships, that when you talked to people…just talked…that attention to you, that positive response to you, I mean, think about it, you’re well-spoken, you’re smart, you have things to say that people want to hear..those things made you feel confident. Finally. When nothing else did. You always enjoy talking to people, not in conversation necessarily but in front of them. Positive attention.”
“I still feel that way, David.”
“So why are you changing your major?”
“I’m not changing it. I’m just adding to it.”
He shook his head. “No, you aren’t. You’re changing it. And that’s okay to do if you want it. If you want it, it’s the right thing. If you’re doing it to fall back on…” he trailed off and got quiet.
“I just don’t want you to use it as an excuse to not go after what you want. You should go for everything you want.”
“It’ll be fine, David. It’s a good idea. That way, if I don’t make it in broadcasting or any type of communications, I can still teach speech and drama and make a living.” The thought didn’t sound that great to me, but I still tried to reassure us both.
He stared at me for a long time, slowly nodded his head. “Okay, Julie. Okay. If you want it, do it.”
I didn’t want it, but the fear of falling short in a competitive field where success rarely came convinced me I needed to. I smiled my biggest smile at David, pretending I felt confident and sure about my decision. “I do want it. I’m going to do it.” I don’t think I fooled him for a minute, but he supported me anyway…
Present Day – The fear of falling short… fear holds us back doesn’t it? Seldom do we actually pursue our dreams. Why would we when it’s possible we could:
1. become too busy
2. make a fool of ourselves
I spent much of my life wondering what my passion was. 24 years in a career that I enjoy but that I’m not passionate about caused me to long for more.
“Find your passion”. I’d heard that more times than I can count. I attended Bible studies that encouraged finding my passion. I listened to speakers who suggested the very same. “Find your passion, and you will find your joy.” All I could ever think was, I don’t have a passion. Why did it seem so easy for everyone else? I played tennis, I ran in races, I scrapbooked, took up knitting (I never made anything more than very warped scarves), gardening, photography. You name it, I tried it. While I enjoyed all of those things, I wasn’t passionate about any of them. I saw people involved in their favorite activities, sharing, joyful. Others seemed to find passion not in activities but in service. I tried that, too, becoming more involved in my church and the community. Again, I enjoyed it, but passion still eluded me. I spent so much time looking for things and activities I felt passionate about and forgot to look inside myself and remember my dreams from long ago. (You can read more about my journey in my post, But I Don’t Have a Passion).
Several years ago, I rode home from a women’s retreat in a van full of friends.
“Julie, if you could do anything you wanted what would it be?” my friend, Lori, asked me.
I only had to think a minute and then the words burst from me. “I love God and am so thankful of what he’s done for me. I’d hold women’s retreats and speak to women about who they are in Christ…and I’d write about it, too.”
Lori answered, “Then why don’t you do it?”
Why not, indeed?
I thought back to that conversation with David so many years before and realized I could no longer let my fear hold me back.
I held my first retreat for women five months later.
Finally, I felt alive. No longer did I just exist, but I’d found my passion, writing and speaking about God.
Ladies, if I can learn to live my passion, anyone can.
Recently, I had a chance to be on the launch team for Ruth Soukup’s new book, Living Well Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life. As I’ve been on a journey to create a meaningful, true joy-filled life since David died 11 years ago, I found every single secret Ruth shares in her book both inspirational and informative. However, Chapter 3: We All Have a Sweet Spot, stood out to me most of all. After all, I spent so many years searching for my ‘sweet spot’.
“Our sweet spot is that place where our greatest passions and our talents or our abilities intersect. It is that special place where we are able to do whatever it is we feel most called to do, that thing we love, that thing we are great at, that thing that makes life worth living. Living in the sweet spot means having the courage to follow our dreams, take risks, and work harder than we ever thought possible to accomplish our goals.” ~Ruth Soukup, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
While career and passion don’t always align, finding that sweet spot Ruth writes about is key for knowing fulfillment and joy.
What is your own sweet spot? Have you found it yet? What are you doing in your life right now to make sure that you are living in your sweet spot—that place where your talents and your passions intersect? ~Ruth Soukup, Living Well, Spending Less: 12 Secrets of the Good Life
25 years ago, I did what my sweet friend, David, encouraged me not to. I let fear hold me back from going after my dreams. No longer will I let that happen. Took me long enough, huh? What’s holding you back? I pray you get started living too. Find that sweet spot and turn your passion into action. It’s the only way we can truly live.
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Shared on Thoughtful Thursdays