While walking with my neighbor yesterday, we were discussing retirement, and the things that make people happy. She is a lovely woman, and has been retired for about ten years. She expressed that for her, she wished she had “found her passion” before retiring, because now that she has, she is so much happier. I asked her what she has discovered to be her passion, and fully expecting it to be something “fluffy”, I was interested to hear that it is “sales”…working in a funky little clothing boutique that she goes to on a part time basis. After a lifetime career in the school system, she has discovered that she prefers selling clothes:-))
We all have our biases, and because for so much of my counselling and teaching career, at every career workshop I attended, they pushed the idea of “finding our passion”, I’m conscious of my tendency to almost fight against the idea as some nebulous idea – pie in the sky, airy fairy, unpractical, and a waste of time. Perhaps I feel this resistance because it never seemed to honor those people whose passion might be “selling clothes”, or being the best server ever in a restaurant!
Recently, while driving home from work, listening to our Canadian radio station, CBC, there was an interview discussing this very topic. They gave an example of a Steve Jobs quote that anyone in the career and coaching field will have heard: “…the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” In the discussion they shared that recent research has not necessarily supported this quote, because so most of us are not in touch with our passion – we don’t yet know what it is! For most of us, we only figure out what our passion is through trial and error, and finally landing in a position that we love. And there lies the reason I always felt frustrated with talk of “passion”. In fact, I often felt like a bit of a loser…somehow deficient because I didn’t have a “passion”. I was good at my job, and I liked going to work, however it never seemed good enough criteria to be called my passion.
Many know from an early age what they want to do in their life. (Whether that is their “passion” or just something they want to do could also be debated.) For most of us though, we only discover what we love to do when we finally land that job that is right for us – where we feel “in the flow”, and at this point we may indeed claim to have found our passion. I have been in positions that”flowed” many times, and yet not all of them would I refer to as being my passion.
Perhaps retirement is the same. We can plan for retirement based on our Values and Vision for the future, and we certainly should have some sort of a plan! Yet to be “in the zone”, and have a sense of “flow”, a continued openness to life experiences and alternate activities and ways of living is perhaps what will bring us to that wonderful state of truly “living in our passion”. It will certainly keep us feeling alive!! And isn’t that what it’s all about? Feeling alive?