passion choicesBy: Dr. Gwen Smith

We’ve all been taught to go to school, get a good education and then get a good job. This is the model for happiness and fulfillment in our work that we are supposed to follow.
The reality is that this model does not really work because there is a missing link: Finding what you love.

The school systems impacts career choices

As one who has, in the past, been a school administrator in the largest bureaucratic school systems for decades, I’ve watched school systems funnel kids along paths that they were never intended to be on, just because that is how the system worked.
I’ve heard guidance counselors discourage kids from pursuing study tracks they would have loved to pursue because they were not gifted enough or they were too gifted and therefore needed to go on a ‘college track’. All this, though the inclination of the students were bent in another direction.
It’s clear with almost 80% of people hating their jobs, that this process is not reliable. Anyone knowledgeable about data can see that this does not work. Yet, there is still not a way in the traditional systems for all students to discover what they truly love to do and then to pursue it first as a course of study leading to later careers.
Yes there are profiles that students are given to determine what their inclinations are. However, given the job-haters statistic, the reliability of the data produced has to be questioned.
You may have been one of those fortunate or unfortunate enough to be subjected to this system, and now you go off to a job not considering that it’s supposed to be something that you enjoy. ‘It’s work, after all, and you are not intended to enjoy your work’. Sad but true, I’ve seen these comments in different forums and social networks in defense of keeping one’s job despite the feelings of burden.
If these are your thoughts and experiences you no doubt are feeling some level of dissatisfaction and quite likely hate for the job you now do.  This is not the happiest and healthiest place to be. Quite possibly you may have a desire inside to do something else, and you don’t have the first clue of how to begin.
On the other hand you may have several ideas that you feel that you love to do but can’t seem to settle on which one it is that you will really love to do.
Time is premium for you and you don’t wish to spend time trying to guess which one thing will work for you only to discover that it really wasn’t what lit you up after investing time and money.

What can you do about this?

For years, you like me, may have heard others say that you can discover your passions just by connecting with your inner voice. This is true. However, there are people who are not connected to or even aware of an inner voice. And so the struggle is great in arriving at something to do that they love. I was there at one point and it was an immense struggle for me.
If you are here, developing your awareness is the first phase of finding your passions. Without that inner awareness you will never get to recognizing and experiencing the signals alerting you to what you need to pay attention to.
Each time you get them, you will rationalize them away, as I did for years.  There will be a great delay in getting to what will turn you on to what you love. I suspect, however, that you are not interested in that delay.

So How Do You Build Awareness?

It requires paying attention. Awareness requires that you turn off the noises from your subconscious mind. Your subconscious chatter runs on automatic and processes 40 million bits of data per second as against your conscious mind that processes 40 bits.
It inhibits you and tells you that ‘you can’t do it’ or ‘you’re not good enough’ or ‘that won’t work’. It induces fear in stepping out to achieve what you want to do. Learning to quiet the negative subconscious suggestions will boost your success. You must quiet them or they will sabotage your efforts and success.
Not being aware of this and consequently leaving yourself to run on automatic will not only delay your progress in achieving your goals but also in finding your passions. Letting your mind run on automatic is not the answer to increased awareness.
Every action or thought evokes a feeling. Tuning into that feeling so you can be aware of how that action or thought is received by you and is affecting you is important. That is the feeling that you’ll need to access to know what passions impact you and what you like.

Aren’t feelings random and untrustworthy?

I want you to process feelings as one that does not depend on the random emotions that people feel. It’s not the feel-good-in-the-moment feeling that causes you to act and perhaps regret the actions later.
This feeling has a connection with your gut or better yet your heart; it gives you a sense of ‘wrong’ or ‘right’ as in accurate or inaccurate, or as in trustworthiness. It’s that deep knowing that something is right for you, a satisfaction and settled feeling of peace and clarity that comes over you when you consider an option or a choice. I call this your heart.
Learning to recognize when you experience this heart feeling is going to be the first step to helping you get to your passions. So start there. Start being aware of what your heart is telling you and it comes with a feeling of clarity peace and trust. It feels right.
Start putting yourself in a place where you can create options for those feelings associated with your choices to occur and be aware of them. Pay attention to them. Opening this up again will be the best thing that you ever do for yourself. .  Over years of living, we’ve been socialized to not pay attention to those feelings, to our heart. Yet it is from there that we get our deepest guidance.

What if you are getting signals about more than one passion?

There are times when you your heart is leading you to more than one thing that you love.
Then this simple formula gets a bit more complicated.  How will you be able to decipher which of the two or three loves that you have? For sure one of them is more important to you. Being able to process and identify what your heart is saying can become more challenging if you try to do this on your own.
Getting a partner to ask you some key questions to help you connect with that feeling to bring clarity is important. This way you don’t get in your head and continue to confuse yourself about it.

What do I mean by that?

The first thing to clarify is that you are the only one that can tell what you are passionate about. Your passions can be organized by preference of what your heart is communicating. If you have two or more that coincide with your gifts this will increase the complication for you because you will be caught in reasoning about which one is beneficial from some external criteria different from what you r heart suggests.
When you have two or more passions, it’s important to just look at two options at a time in front of you. So instead of going to reason that if I do this one, then this other situation will occur or be better for me, you should choose based on your heart communicated feelings as if you had everything else in the world that you needed and those were the only two options left for you to choose from.
Your passions can often coincide with your gifts, but not always. This is why you’ll need someone to ask you some clarifying questions.

What are the questions to clarify your passions?

You’ll want to tap inside of your awareness, possibly closing your eyes to ask “Which of the passions evoke a greater feeling of peace and satisfaction and ‘rightness’ above the other?”
If this doesn’t do it, then ask, “If you could have passion 1 but never have passion 2, which one feels better for you?” Test the winning one with the next one, then you will arrive at the top passion.
The challenge in doing this by yourself, and even with someone else is that aside from the subconscious chatter, there’s also your reasoning that gets in the way. You’ll need to watch out for the chatter and turn it off repeatedly to get clear.
I offer a free guide that will help you in asking some other questions and exercises to help you clarify what your passions are for your work. Once you go through this guide, use the clarifying questions above to guide you to arrive at one top passion and be on your way to fulfilling your happy life. You can access your free guide here:
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