“Pursue Your Passion!”

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I know I’ve been paralyzed by that question in the past.

I have so many interests — things I love to do, things people tell me I’m good at, and things that I can’t let go of, even if I try. How’s a girl to decide where her true passion lies?

I set aside a month to rest and reflect. A whole 31 days without actively pursuing any passion, but rather considering the things that I love, the things that drive me, and the things that have shaped who I am. I journaled, talked with close friends, and restrained myself from choosing any one thing and running with it. The last was harder than you might think! Any time I came up with an idea, I wanted to jump straight into it, sure that this was the next big thing I was to pursue. I’m really glad I didn’t.

As the end of the month drew closer, I had lots of ideas — an overwhelming number of ideas! — and still no clear direction. Until a friend exposed me to this simple concept from Tom Ziglar. He outlines a way to discover what he calls your “purpose,” defining this purpose as the place where your passions, gifting, and scars converge.

Passions:

Is there a time when you didn’t need an alarm clock to wake you?

When you were working (or playing) at something that brought you so much life, that you didn’t have to think twice about rolling out of bed? The things that get you up in the morning, these are your passions.

Giftings:

What problems do people bring to you?

Think of a time when someone has asked you for help. You may not think of yourself as an expert in this area, because it comes so naturally to you, but other people do. The perspective of another person looking in can help you determine your giftings.

Scars:

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome?

The making of a scar is a painful process, but once it is healed, it becomes the evidence of triumph. If you’re anything like me, you likely want to forget that the scars (and the things that caused them) were ever a part of your life, but you earned them. Even the most difficult things in your past have prepared you for your present and will propel you into your future.

As I began to explore this idea, I was sorely tempted to focus only on the area where my passions and gifting overlapped. I didn’t want my scars to have a say in determining my purpose. But I made myself do the full exercise anyway.

I began slowly and asked myself what people say I’m good at. When do people look to me to solve their problems? For over a decade now, people have come to me to solve their sewing problems. I wrote down Costuming and Fiber Arts in the part of the diagram where “Giftings” and “Passions” overlapped because those sorts of things also excite me enough to get me up in the morning. They don’t get to go in the center of the diagram, though, because they don’t have anything to do with my Scars. Alterations landed in the lonely space reserved for “Giftings” that I’m not passionate about.

I broadened my considerations from there. Public Speaking landed in the space between “Scars” and “Giftings,” but Teaching landed squarely in the middle, where “Passions,” “Giftings,” and “Scars” all meet.

As the diagram filled up, the things settling into the center nestled together into a beautiful picture of what I am uniquely suited to do and be. Looking at the words there grounds me. I feel like I know what I am created for when I look at it.

The things that hover around this center — things like Public Speaking, Fiber Arts, and Alterations — these are things I feel I should do, for one reason or another, but seeing that they are not centered gives me the freedom to let them go so that I can focus on the things that I can do better. Let someone who finds those things at their own center do them. They’ll execute them better than you would anyway. As for me, I have limited time, money, and energy; let me focus on what I’ve been created to do. I may dabble in these fringe passions as hobbies, but they cannot be my focus if I want to actually make a difference in the world and find fulfillment.

What is your purpose?

Does reflecting on your passions, giftings, and scars help your purpose settle into place?

From the archives. Originally published on a now-archived blog on August 5, 2016.

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