How do you discover what you’re meant to do for the rest of your life?

How do you find what makes you passionate?

An autobiographical, but related aside:

I originally enrolled at the University of Missouri to follow my high school dream of being a sports photographer. By the end of my freshman year, I had applied for early enrollment and been accepted into the photojournalism sequence, and even taken my first class. All summer, I worked and saved for a real camera – my starter SLR, a Canon Rebel XT just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Finally, in September of that year, I bought myself a Canon 50D. Less than a month later, I changed my sequence in the journalism school. My dad was furious. I had gone there to follow my dream – what had happened?

I had discovered what laid at the root of my dream: a desire to capture and share passion. I wanted to make an impact.

I loved sports photography for a very particular reason – it fueled me to go out and try to capture moments of passion. Nothing inspired me more than capturing an athlete in their element, every muscle flexed, putting their entire self into making a play happen. The act of catching an athlete mid-shot, every muscle primed and ready for action – was better than any drug.

Going to a meeting, however, and photographing business suits and politics was what I thought of as the dullest part of life, and the opposite of something I would enjoy.

I also couldn’t stand the thought of having to give up two semesters (one for reporting, one for staff photojournalism) to the Columbia Missourian. I knew jobs were few and far between for photojournalists, and climbing to the top in sports, which was, and still is, a bit of a boy’s club, seemed next to impossible. As far as I was concerned, I was a liability on a football sideline, especially with tens of thousands of dollars in camera gear loaded onto my petite frame. One play gone awry, and the equipment (and me!) we’re toast.

Although a bit misguided, once I had this revelation, I started to search deeper for what laid at the root of my dream – a desire to find and ignite the passion of others, and, change the world.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a concert planned and executed perfectly (which was my side job at the time) had the power to provide memories that made someone’s day – week – month – college experience worth living. That fueled me for years, and I dreamed of being of being a talent agent in the music industry.

Music speaks the words of our souls, and has the power to transform and change lives with its rich impact.

Unfortunately, on my quest to do, be, and live my best, I lost my love for music. It’s a dirty industry, and finding the strength to make it was ultimately too much for my body and mind to handle. Combined with family events and shifts outside of my control, I walked away from free rent in Los Angeles and the possibility of a future in my dream industry. Instead, I elected to stay in the Chicagoland area and interview in Northwest Indiana at The Grossbauer Group, an integrated marketing agency. I may have forgotten my pencil for my job interview, but I got the job, and I’m still there today.

My decision to stay here was not without consequence. My job is a great challenge, and I love my coworkers. My bosses are certifiable geniuses.

I lost the feeling that I was making a real impact though, and I’m struggling to get it back.

I don’t regret my decision to stay. Because of it, I discovered the beautiful soul of the man I’m proud to call my fiancé, and rediscovered and built upon a relationship with my mom that just keeps getting better.

So, I’m left with the question many people face – how do you get enough out of your day job to make something passionate outside of work? Or, how do you discover what in your day job can fuel you with the same level of passion?

I love the people I work with, and I love that my job is mentally stimulating and challenges me on a daily basis. I love puzzles, and it is a secondary passion to figure out a puzzle or challenge, and come up with the best possible solution, implementing that solution, and impacting others.

The impact is different now, but it’s still there. It’s hard to find the bites of passion in minute daily tasks, but not impossible. That’s my challenge to myself. I know the possibilities are there, and ready for me to discover; I just have to tap into and figure out exactly how to recognize the bites of passion on a daily, hourly basis.

  1. Where are your challenges to be the person you wish to be?
  2. How do you do what you love most?
  3. Is it part of your day job?
  4. How do you rise to challenges that step in the way of discovering and living your passions?