"Find your passion! Do what you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life again!"
I hear one of these phrases at least once a week. Chasing your dreams and finding your passions is popular. I can't blame anyone for liking the idea.
Helping others find fulfillment is part of the reason I exist, and discovering what you love plays a significant role in finding meaning and fulfillment.
Yet, there's something about finding and chasing my passion that troubles me.
Look to Myself... Alone?
I wonder if there is a piece missing to the formula of finding your passion. If E = mc^2 didn't have m, the formula would be incomplete; likewise, the idea of finding your passion alone seems like a partial thought process.
I've wandered on a journey trying to find my purpose for the last however many years since I started high school. I studied computer science in college, ventured into ministry shortly after, dabbled in web development, design, blogging, music, and a variety of other things.
Some of those pursuits connected with a passion deep inside, and I think the sum of attempts revealed my many interests. However, what I didn't find revealed more.
I found no satisfaction. Out of all the dozens of jobs, hobbies, and passions I tried, not a single one of them satisfied me, no matter how much they connected to my heart.
I found no satisfaction because I tied my life's value and meaning to myself alone.
I think we agree life isn't enjoyable all alone. So why would looking to yourself for fulfillment yield any different results?
Two Components to Your Dreams
It is short-sighted to look for meaning only in ourselves. I began this thought process after listening to a speech on the radio.
The speaker, David Brooks of the New York Times, talked about being a deep person of character. In part of his speech, Mr. Brooks spoke about finding meaning outside of ourselves leads us to greater depth as a person.
The talk resonated with me. As I arrived at home thinking about his words, I began to realize a key to finding meaning in life.
It's simple. There are two components to your dreams. The first you already know well. The second gives meaning to the first.
1. Find Your Passion
You and I already know what this is talking about. Hundreds of writers, speakers, and podcasters are talking about it.
It goes something like this:
- Try different stuff to find what you enjoy.
- Do what you love.
- Passion will get you started.
- Remember your dreams are valuable.
- Get good at whatever you enjoy so you can make money doing it.
Simple enough, right? The journey through this process is not always easy, and it is very necessary. But the satisfaction you desire in life is found in step #2...
2. Meet Others' Needs
Yep. The key to obtaining your dreams is to find and meet others' needs.
Meeting others' needs starts with exposing yourself to them. It starts with being present in the world around you, seeing how people interact, hearing their struggles and pain, noting what's missing, and letting that move you to action. Meeting others needs is passion in action.
Your passion for drawing alone will not keep you getting out of bed in the morning. The pattern may be sustainable that for a season, but, unless your passion is applied to the context of others, you will lose steam eventually.
However, by exposing yourself to the needs of those around you, you might find yourself drawing to cheer someone up, writing to help someone else through a tough time, or composing to bring peace to someone's chaotic mind. Whatever it is, your passion belongs in the context of someone else's needs.
It can be scary to be moved by the needs of others, or to share your work with someone you don't know.
Just remember you were created to benefit others. Your passions in the context of community are weapons to fight injustice, tools to heal hearts, and motivations to change the world.
Don't ever give up on the pursuit to your dreams because you play a key role in changing the world around you!
Fulfillment Comes In Finding Meaning Outside Yourself
So while you're busting it learning how to become a better artist, businessperson, musician, or whatever it is you do, don't forget to expose yourself to the world outside yourself.
It is there you will find inspiration to drive you deeper into passion, and, ultimately, the satisfaction you are seeking.