We are all here for a purpose. That purpose is wired into who we are. The clues to finding our life purpose lie foremost in our passions and what fills us with joy, energy and motivation. To help you clearly identify your passions and gifts, I’d like to share with you 5 Steps to Living a More Passionate Life.
Step #1: Recognize Your Gifts
Have you noticed that some things come naturally to some people? Some people have a way with words while some have a way with people. Other folks seem “made for” certain activities like easily programming websites or creating beautiful paintings. It’s no mistake that we’re all different, but sometimes we fail to value our differences.
Schools these days are structured to measure certain kinds of intelligence: math, reading, writing, science. Unfortunately, they don’t encourage or value certain gifts in quite the same way, like athleticism, artistic talents, technological skills and creativity. In a sense, we’ve been taught that certain gifts matter more than others. While that may be true in school, your gifts matter to achieving your life purpose. And it’s important to pay attention to what those gifts are.
Harvard Business School professor Howard Gardner has narrowed these gifts down into several categories I’d like to share with you. As you read each one, pause to see whether it represents an area of giftedness for you.
1. Linguistic/Language—being good with words, writing and communication; learning new languages; could be written or verbal language skills; writers, poets, journalists, translators, public speakers, etc.
2. Logic/Mathematical—being a logical thinking; good at math and with numbers; excelling at applying reasoning and the scientific process; financial analysts, lawyers, scientists, programmers, philosophers, engineers, accountants, bankers, statisticians, quantitative researchers, etc.
3. Naturalist—able to understand and engage with nature and natural phenomena; able to recognize and categorize traits; skilled at identifying patterns; botanists, wildlife activists, veterinarians, herbalists, gardeners, zookeepers, floral arrangers, etc.
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic—skilled at using the body to accomplish tasks
a. Small Motor—able to work agilely with the hands and/or fingers; people with good handwriting, knot tying, texting, drawing and painting, car repair, massage therapy, surgeons, dentists, needle point artists, jewelers, etc.
b. Large Motor—able to perform tasks with the entire body; dancers, athletes, chiropractors, movers and deliverymen, rodeo cowboys, farmers, gymnasts, competitors on Wipeout®, etc.
5. Visual/Spatial—being able to visualize in space how shapes or elements might fit together; architects, artists, landscape designers, interior designers, trunk packers, package designers, graphic designers, animators, real estate developers, urban planners, etc.
6. Music—the ability to interpret, organize and/or create musical or rhythmic sounds; the ability to identify and classify sounds; musicians, composers, singers, songwriters, mechanics who diagnose engines based on interpreting sounds they make, conductors, audiophiles, audio recording experts, etc.
7. Interpersonal—able to manage relationships with others, to develop rapport, to build relationships, to communicate; teachers, trainers, therapists, coaches, counselors, pastors, arbitration experts, diplomats, facilitators, etc.
8. Intrapersonal—the ability to be aware of and interpret one’s own feelings and thoughts; actors, psychologists, psychology teachers, entrepreneurs, writers, philosophers, etc.
Which areas of intelligence do you excel in? Which are you attracted to most?
Step #2: Get Clear About Your Values
In order to discover the best ways to use your gifts in the world it’s vital to understand your core values. For a long time I thought that values were things you decided were important like a logical way to prioritize God, family, health, finances and so forth. But I was wrong.
Your true values are innate. Rather than being things that you choose, your true values are a part of you and always have been. You can identify your true values by asking questions like these from Becoming a Professional Life Coach by Patrick Williams and Diane S. Menendez:
1. What ten things do you love to do or have always done and loved? (My top ten are teaching, physical activity, nature/animals, languages, writing, religion/spirituality, travel, performing, instructional design, and inspiring others).
2. Name several things you have consistently made a part of your life. (Animals, bodies of water, being outdoors, opportunities to teach, writing, singing, creating, learning/school/education, being a member of a group or organization.)
3. List a dozen or more times in your life when you knew you were on purpose.
Once you’ve written down your answers, go back and highlight key phrases. What comes up the most for you?
The more prevalent something is or has been in your life (in a good way) the more likely it is that it’s a core value.
Step #3: Meet Your Unmet Needs
One of the greatest tricksters that will keep you from living your most passionate life is unmet needs. Here is an example of an unmet need…
Jeanine thrived on praise and reinforcement from key people in her life. As an artists, Jeanine needed positive reinforcement to achieve goals and stay on track. She was abundantly blessed with this type of support while growing up. However, Jeanine married Jim whose family was not supportive. Praise and recognition was scarce and, frankly, Jim didn’t really know what it was like to give or receive praise.
Consequently, Jeanine found her important need going unmet. Since she didn’t consciously realize this praise and reinforcement as a need, she began to seek it unconsciously from other sources. She took on commissioned art projects for clients who were good at complimenting her work—even if their demands were high. She made extra efforts to please people by taking on their creative projects instead of working on projects of her own. Even though Jeanine was getting the positive reinforcement she needed, she still felt unfulfilled.
Due to an unmet need, Jeanine ended up stuck in a cycle of saying “yes” to more client work when she really wanted to be creating her own masterpieces. By finding a way to meet the need for positive reinforcement somewhere else, such as from friends and family, Jeanine will become free to choose her own work over her clients’.
What unmet needs may be motivating you to make passionless choices?
Step #4: Find Your Right Livelihood
Sometimes knowing your gifts and passions isn’t enough. Sometimes translating those gifts into a career you enjoy can be very challenging. Several resources have been designed specifically to help people get into the right career based on their talents, passions and interests. Here are just a few:
The Strong Interest Survey®–This clinically proven assessment is designed to help people of all ages discover their passions so they can make more fulfilling educational and career choices. Taking the Strong Interest Survey is a great first step on the path to finding and living your passion and purpose.
The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator®–This assessment is also clinically proven. It determines which of 16 personality profiles you fit into. When used in conjunction with the next resource it is a great way to figure out exactly what career tracks align with your talents and passions.
Do What You Are—This book by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger is a career selection book based on the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator. Both my husband and I have used this book and I highly recommend it to anyone in a career selection or career transition stage. You do not have to take the Meyers-Briggs assessment to benefit from this book. It will walk you through some questions to give you a general idea of your personality type.
What Color is Your Parachute?—This career planning book walks you through a number of exercises that let you prioritize the kind of work you like to do, the people you prefer to work with, where you prefer to work, with what subject matter, etc. If you do the exercises, this book is well worth the investment.
Step #5: Get on the Path
Even when you know what your passions, talents and strengths are it can be a challenge to get on the path to living them every day. As mentioned, it took us several years to find the right livelihood for my husband. But it was well worth the investment of time and energy. He is happier, more patient at home and has energy left over to pursue other passions he has like hiking and photography.
With a good dose of courage and a clear vision of what your needs and values are you can start on the path today. Why? Because clarity about who you are lets you make better decisions. It lets you say “no” to opportunities that don’t align with your passion and purpose. This leaves more space in your life to say YES! to the things you love the most.
What step will you take right now…today…to get on the path of passion and purpose?
Learn more about your gifts and talents. Download your FREE Life Purpose Discovery Guide for even MORE tools to help you along the path!