19 Tips to help you discover your passion and live your dream

“I so want to pursue my passion,” my niece said one day, “but I don’t know what my passion is.”

I talk a lot in this blog about pursuing your passion and living your dream, but if you aren’t sure what that passion is in the first place, well… it’ll be tough to live it.

The only thing standing between you and your goal is a bullshit reason you're telling yourselfI can tell you first hand that you need to be absolutely, positively, 100% committed to your dream or you won’t follow through. There will be obstacles and detours in your path and, if you aren’t totally convinced it’s what you want, you’ll either give up or you’ll turn down another, most likely easier, path.

So how do you go about figuring out what your passion is? How can you find that one goal you’re willing to ride to the end of the world for? Here are some ideas to help guide you in figuring that out and then accomplishing what you set out to do.

Things to think about before setting your goal

What are you good at? We’re all good at something. Don’t be modest here – where do you shine? Think about your time at work or school or in clubs. What do you do exceptionally well? It could be something like art or music. It could be something like getting along with people or having the gift of conflict resolution. Chances are your passion will involve using your strengths.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Think about what you do in the evenings or weekends. When you aren’t working, how do you fill your time? It could be stamp collecting or bike riding or making gourmet meals. If you are willing to spend your time doing it for free, then maybe that’s where your passion lay.

Where do you enjoy being? Are you an indoor person or one who loves to be outside? A country gal or city boy? When you let your mind wander, where do you see yourself? Maybe that’s another clue to what your passion is.

What tools do you enjoy using? Think all kinds of tools here: hammer and nails, computer, calculator, paintbrush, needle and thread. What are you drawn to? Do you enjoy using your hands to actually build a physical product or does a virtual product created on the computer excite you more?

Steps to identify your passion and discover your dream

What are the five most important things to you? Sit down and make a list. What are the five most important things to you? These are those things that you absolutely will not compromise on. Making money? Time with your family? Expressing your creative side? Make that list.

priorityPut those five important things in order. Look carefully at that list and figure out which one is number one. This is the thing that you absolutely will not compromise on. Ask yourself: If I had the opportunity to do Thing A but not Thing B, would I do it? Or would I choose Thing B? Whichever one you choose is your number one. Get them ordered 1 – 5.

Define your goal. By now you should have a pretty good idea of what you want to do. Now it’s time to narrow it down. State your goal in one clear, concise sentence. You should be able to say what you’re going to do in five words or less.

OK, so I know what I want to do. How do I do it?

decide what to be and go be itCreate a general plan. What are those itty bitty steps you’ll need to do to reach your goal? It’s OK if you leave some out. It’s OK if you leave a whole bunch out. Create a roadmap to your goal by breaking it into as many small steps as you can think of. It might help to start at the end goal and work backwards; it might not. What you’re creating here is an overall plan that may or may not be accurate – you’ll fine tune it as you go.

Decide on a general plan of action. You most likely discovered there were many ways to reach your goal as you created your plan. Now it’s time to decide which route will work best for you. Or maybe I should say, which route you think will work best for you. Be aware things will change once you’re on your way. That’s OK.

Learn from others. Contact others who are doing what you want to do. How did they get there? What obstacles did they have to overcome? What advice do they have? By seeking out others pursuing the same passion as you you’ll accomplish two things: you’ll learn about what you need to do, and you’ll be affirmed that your dream is possible. If others are doing it, you can too.

Surround yourself with others who support your dream. There’s not much worse than hearing how ridiculous your dream is. There will be those who’ll tell you you’re foolish or selfish or ignorant or stupid. Hold tight to your dream and don’t let them drag you away. If you can’t find actual real, living, breathing human beings who support you, find some online. Facebook and Twitter are great places to meet up with people passionate about all kinds of things!

Stay true to your dream. Pursue your passion. Do everything in your power to stay motivated. Put a post-it on your bathroom mirror reminding you of your dream so you see it first thing every morning. Put notes in your lunch bag. Hang a sign on your door or your rearview mirror in your car. Pictures, motivational quotes, or small items to remind you of your dream are all useful tools to help you focus on what you want.

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot doSet a date. When your dream is a “someday” dream, it’s hard to take actual steps to make it happen. Once you’ve got an actual date you’ll do it, things become more real. Set a date and go for it. If it turns out you need to delay it a bit, cross that bridge when you get there, but now commit to a timeline.

Go public. One of the best tools for staying true to the dream is to go public with it. Tell everyone you know what you’re doing and when. I know of many a bike tour that happened because somebody announced to the world they were doing it and then didn’t have the courage to back out. Shout it from the rooftops.

Believe in yourself and in your dream. If you don’t truly believe you can pursue your passion, you’ll be sidetracked by all those little detours you’ll find in your way. Rather than seeking a way around them, you’ll be convinced it’s the end of the line. Know you can accomplish what you set out to do and believe in it.

Keep your goal front and center. Now that you know what you’re going to do, keep that goal at the forefront of your mind. Focus on it. Know that it’ll happen and walk directly toward it. All those other things you would kinda, sorta like to do someday take back burner for now; concentrate fully on achieving your one goal.

Go back to the drawing board. If you somehow manage to hit on the perfect plan the first time, count your lucky stars. For most of us, we’re heading back to the drawing board on a regular basis to tweak and adjust our goal and our plan. It’s all part of the process.

Take baby steps every day. A friend once said that living the dream is taking a million tiny steps all in the same direction. It may seem like the final goal will never happen, but if you’re walking in the right direction, it will. Keep plugging away at it.

Don’t give up. You are most likely closer to success than you think you are. It may seem like you’ll never, ever get where you want to be, but you will. If your dream is big enough, it’ll take many, many tiny baby steps, but they’ll lead you to exactly where you want to be. Remember the beginning is always the hardest.

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Do it.

The biggest mistake you could ever make is being afraid to make one

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

Seriously, you’ve got what it takes. It will take everything you have, but you’ve got it. Don’t be afraid to dream. Big.

inadequateI think we all feel inadequate. We feel like we’re not good enough for our dreams. Dreams are what other people achieve, not me.

Sound familiar?

It won’t be until you take some big hairy audacious action towards your goal that you’ll start to feel like maybe, just maybe, you CAN do this. You have to take those first scary tentative steps into the unknown and trust you’re up to the task before you’ll know you are.

When we set out from Alaska to pedal south I gave us a 50/50 chance of actually making it to Argentina. There were too many possibles, too many what ifs, too many unknowns in front of us to have much confidence in our abilities.

It's not until you have the courage to step off the ledge that you'll realize you've had wings all along.By the time we reached Fairbanks, I figured those chances were a whole lot better. We had leaped off the cliff, discovered our wings, and made it 500 miles. If we could reach Fairbanks, we could reach Ushuaia. But it took starting, setting sail, putting the pedal to the metal and going for me to believe.

So how, exactly, does one go about taking that big hairy audacious action when you feel smaller than small?

You believe in your dream. Then you step over the cliff.

There is no magic pill to give you the courage to overcome those fears and feelings of inadequacy. There is nothing anybody else can give you that will make them disappear.

The strength is within you, and only you can discover it.

Is it scary? Oh yeah. It’s scary. It’s perhaps the scariest thing you’ll ever do. Many, many thoughts will be racing around your head.

am I good enough?All those questions are perfectly normal. Go anyway. Take a deep breath and step over the cliff.

I think you’ll discover a pleasant surprise. I think you’ll learn quickly that you CAN do it.

You are more capable than you thought.

Yes, you might fail. You might not like it and you’ll turn around and go back home. You might run out of money or not have enough time. It’s possible.

You really can do whatever you wantBut more likely is that none of that will happen. More likely is that you’ll discover, like countless others who have gone before you, that you’ll succeed. You’ll realize you are more capable than you thought; that you can push on long after you thought you couldn’t.

What are you waiting for? Go. Discover. Learn.


Don’t want to take only my word for it? Here is what some others have said about facing their fears and doing it anyway.

Funny how fear has us in its grip in so many ways but when we let it go for just a bit and explore that unknown, we then realize how silly we were to harbor that particular fear in the first place. Amazingly, by pushing ahead in those shark-infested waters instead of turning back, the fear ebbed as quickly as it struck.  – Keith Jenkins

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world. – Harriet Tubman

I’m scared. I’m absolutely terrified of this trip that I am about to embark on. Every single morning I wake up, see the countdown has moved one day forward and my stomach tightens up, and I’m filled with a sense of complete apprehension and dread. Don’t get me wrong, the apprehension and dread is intertwined with excitement, euphoria and a sense of overwhelming happiness too. There are so many ups and downs that I am experiencing in the planning stages of my trip and this all comes down to one thing: Fear of the unknown.   – Lauren

You’ll find that getting your fears out in the open diminishes their power over you. And you’ll realize that the choice you make to move forward is a first step toward your dream. For your dream to become reality, you must choose to step forward over your fears. Focus on your dream. Let your fears dissipate by refusing to pay them further attention.  – Jerry Lopper

You mustn't be afraid to dream a little biggerI think it is extremely important for us to make sure that when our hearts call on us to fulfill a dream or a want or a curious notion, we need to go for it and not be discouraged it if doesn’t turn out exactly as needed at exactly the time that we do it. There is a reason your heart tells you what it wants. If you are smart you will listen, if you are even smarter, you will wait it out to see what that reason was. Srinivas

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel