Midlife Passion or Fantasy?

A question I was recently asked by a participant in my workshop about finding and living your passions (those things that are truly important to you) was “how do I know if this (what I want) is really my passion or just pie-in-the-sky?”  In other words, is this goal inspired by higher-level values or is it simply a fantasy?

Values are the motivators of your behavior.  Your values are those deeply-held beliefs about what is good or bad, appropriate or not, right or wrong.  They come from childhood (the first seven years when your critical-thinking skills were not developed) and are based on your observations of those people around you – parents, grandparents, teachers, religious leaders etc.

Your motivation to live your passions and achieve your goals is based on your perception of the feeling that passion will give you once it is achieved. Is that feeling internally- or externally-driven?  The answer will give you insight into whether or not your goal is a worthy one.  Whether it is truly your passion or a fantasy.

Step 1 – What is the Underlying Value?

Look at your passion/goal and ask yourself the following question until you get to an answer that repeats if you continue to ask the question – When I am living this passion (goal that is truly important), what will that get me? That repeating answer will be a value (freedom, security, peace, etc).

Example: Your passion is to be the top Country and Western singer in Nashville

Question: What will that get me?

— I’ll be in front of large audiences

What will that get me?

— Fame and fortune

What will that get me?

— Lots of money

What will that get me?

— A big house, fast cars, worldwide travel

What will that get me?

— Happiness  and fun

So the values are happiness and fun

Step 2: Is the Value Internally- or Externally-Driven?

Once you have determined what the value is, can you get it if you do not achieve your goal?  So the next question is – If I never achieve this passion, will I still be able to get/be (Value)?

From the example above: If I never get to be a famous C&W singer, can I still get happiness and fun?

If the answer is no, then you are depending on something external to yourself to bring you happiness and fun.  If achieving your goal is the ONLY way you can get happiness and fun, then you are being ego-driven.

If on the other hand, you say, “yes I can still have happiness and fun even if I never live my passion because I enjoy singing just for myself even when there is nobody around.  Singing makes me happy on the inside and it’s a tremendous amount of fun” then you are being internally motivated.

Your goal is a worthy one! You will likely have the drive and energy to pursue it until you are successful even if you are faced with challenges along the way.

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