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Passion vs. Purpose: How I found out passion wasn’t working for me

August 20, 2018

Shortly after college graduation, Janice Holly Booth landed her first “big girl job” as Criminal Court Administration for the Attorney General of British Columbia. During her time with the courts, she says she witnessed awful things – murderers, felons, thieves – you can imagine why this would be stressful and not last. Four short years later, she moved to nonprofits and made her way to CEO of the Girl Scouts.


As CEO, Janice attended events, meetings, and conferences. In 2001 a meeting she had to participate in was in Utah which was great because she’d always imagined canyoneering in Southern Utah. Janice thought she’d take advantage of the work trip and plan a few days of fun before the conference started. As she started planning her trip to Zion park and rock climbing/scaling slot canyons, she ran into a little issue – she couldn’t convince anyone to go with her!


Shocked, she started working toward canceling her plans because she thought it wouldn’t be safe and not as fun if she didn’t have company. Just as she was about to withdraw, she stopped. And it hit her, why not just go alone? What was she so afraid? Why did she need someone to go with her? And at that moment she realized she spent her career as CEO of girl scouts telling girls to be brave, have the courage and be independent. She had no choice, she had to go alone. Little did Janice know, this trip would change her life forever.


When she tells this story, she smiles ear to ear and exclaims it changed her and was the start of a new adventure. From that trip forward she started making solo trips and even wrote a book of her memoirs –  Only Pack What You Can Carry. Janice talks about the solitude she felt on this trip and realized how we often don’t experience solitude, quiet, and mind clearing activities. This trip made her realize just how much she wanted to be living a different life.


Now, Janice’s motto is “Your comfort zone is your cage.” So not only does Janice write full time, but she travels, photographs, coaches, is an equestrian, and fundraises. In the depths of the canyons, Janice found who she really was and what she really wanted from life.


I’ve always thought I was a weirdo for changing my career – mainly because it was supported by six years of college! I went to school for athletic training, then worked at a winery, then did recruiting and sales, and eventually landed in the clinical research space. Today, I write, read, am a director of sales optimization, director of fund development for The Veterans Project, and own a furniture restoration company. I’m not precisely traditional and embracing a nontraditional approach to my life and career has been difficult.


Society tells all sorts of things about what we should do and be. Most generations grew up with the idea of picking something, do that for 30-35 years and then retire.


For me, that’s gross. I can barely do the same thing for five minutes let alone 30 years.


Now that I’ve finally realized diversity and chaos is what comforts me, I can lean into these things because I know they all support my purpose. And though my clarity didn’t come in the depths of Utah canyons, it did hit me at 30,000 feet on a long trip home from California – where I had quiet solitude. No internet, no tv, and no interruptions.  I had time to reflect and discover. These moments are critical in life to understand what we really want.


On my flight, I understood what wasn’t working for me. I realized  I was striving for linear career movement because that’s what I should want. I also should find that one thing that makes my heart sing. It should be the thing I’m amazing at because I’ve spent countless hours doing it. I should be passionate about it. I should FIND MY PASSION and do that!


Trying to find my passion caused me a lot of heartaches, worry, anxiety, indecisiveness, confusion, and stress. I couldn’t wrap my head around why others could find their passion, and it is so easy for them to see what it is they LOVE to do.


But, I’ve realized this was all wrong. And the reason I couldn’t “figure it out” was because I was seeking that daily dose of passion. I was running after feeling high on life and expecting that what I do day to day is what should get me up in the morning and is what should make me excited every single day. Today, the pressure to find your passion is intense. Instead of a lifelong linear career, it’s become crazy sexy cool to discover your love and make money doing it.


And I fell into the trap. I thought I needed to be on fire every damn day. So a few years ago I thought I’d found it. I was passionate about helping women with their body image issues because I had a personal experience healing mine. I double down on this because I thought I’d finally found my passion.


I was so passionate about this I immediately enrolled in Isabel Foxen Dukes, Stop Fighting Food class and also decided to get my certification in health and wellness coaching. I spent thousands of dollars in a matter of minutes to pursue this passion – giving it no thought. It had to be right – it was my passion!


Unfortunately, and like most great passions in life, the fire burnt out. And I felt, yet again, confused, frustrated, and on the search for what I should be doing.


Ryan Holiday wrote, passion may be the very thing holding you back from power or influence or accomplishment. Because just as often, we fail with—no, because of—passion.” And, “What humans require in our ascent is purpose and real­ism. Purpose, you could say, is like passion with boundar­ies. Realism is detachment and perspective.”


So when I was bitten by the passion bug, I went on to spend thousands of hours, training, and money around my passion.


And here I am. Without my passion. Confused, frustrated and wondering where the excitement has gone! Wondering why it was so damn hard to sit down and blog about body image issues and living a life free of dieting.


I’ve taken the last few months to reflect on what this means. What I’ve figured out is, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about health and wellness. It doesn’t say I never want to speak of body image and helping others with moving through their healing. It means this isn’t my only purpose. It was my passion.


My purpose is to help others through honest, sincere, and meaningful conversations. I love it, and I can sustain energy to do things that help others because it’s my purpose. There’s no flame to burn out because it’s not a fleeting moment in time. It’s a lifelong venture. I pursue my mission daily – sometimes without pay or deliberation. It just happens. And the best thing is, it’s something I naturally get better at through stuff I enjoy like reading and learning.


Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones of Happiness, says the key to finding your purpose is asking yourself, what are your values? What are you good at? What do you like to do? And What is it you have to give? Dan says write these things out, and the combination of them is how you figure out your purpose.


If you’re someone who is struggling to find your passion – I encourage you to stop and explore purpose instead.


I’m not going to stop talking about how to live a healthy life without the madness of dieting but since it was my passion and not my purpose you’ll see more things from me that reflect my intent.


Thanks For supporting me through this journey. I look forward to more giving of deep and meaningful content that I hope helps you in your quest.


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