How to find your purpose and your passion

*Note: this post is a condensed version of the Coming Out Gold Podcast Episode 4 found here.

Today let’s spend some time focusing on passion and purpose, how they differ, what they are, and how to figure out our own. Quickly though, let’s review our last call to action. You were supposed to go through the free mini-course I created to help you define your active core values. Then you were supposed to practice them every day. If you missed the post or didn’t take a few minutes to do it, please go back to this post and do the work. It is life-changing! Now, let’s dive in. 


Any fans of the reality TV show Big Brother out there? I am a super fan, and a few weeks ago the finale of season 23 aired. It was a history-making season because it was the first time there was a truly diverse cast. What intrigued me most about this season was the clear picture it drew of how moving from a place of purpose vs. a place of passion will carry you much further in the long run. Let me explain.
If you are a fan of BB, you know alliances are vital to taking home the win. Typically they are made quickly, and the best ones will often carry you to the end. Within moments of entering the game for season 23, six players looked around and saw faces that looked like them. Again, this had never happened in the previous 22 seasons. Over the next few days and without ever being in the same room having a six-person conversation, they all understood this was about so much more than winning the $750,000 prize. They formed an alliance called the Cookout. No matter what was said or done, they would vote and work together to ensure they all reached the final six. Even when it wasn’t best for their individual games, they stuck to the plan like glue. Purpose NOT passion dictated how they moved in the game, and that purpose was to see a person of color win. There were times they wanted to vote a member of their alliance out, moments they fought or disagreed with the majority choice, moments when the passion to play the game on their own terms was at odds with staying loyal to the Cookout alliance. But they stayed the course and did not break their alliance. Because they were committed to a purpose bigger than themselves, all six contestants made it to the final six, ensuring a person of color would win the game for the first time in its 21 year history.
As a viewer, it was truly inspiring. As a coach, it proved what I have long believed. Passion gets you started, but purpose keeps you going.  


Are you passionate about the same things today as you were twenty or ten or even five years ago? I’m not. I used to love scrapbooking and filled so many albums full of photos and stories. I had a passion for capturing my family story. But life changed, and that passion ended. As a young girl, I was passionate about reading every Harlequin Romance book I could find. Now, I wouldn’t think of reading one. (No judgment if you love them. I am just in a season where I am more likely to be found reading a self-help or leadership book.) Different seasons have different passions. Let’s talk more about the differences between the two.
It’s about emotions and often centers on what makes us feel good, i.e., the whole ‘do what you love’ mindset. It is inward-facing and rooted in what matters to you personally. Google defines passion as a strong and barely controllable emotion. I imagine it as this inferno that burns hot. The problem with fires is typically they burn themselves out. Passion, as with an actual fire, has to be constantly fed and stoked. But let’s be honest, sustaining that level of energy, attention, and effort in real life becomes exhausting over time. It’s a challenge to build a lifetime on something that requires us to continue creating enough fuel to sustain the emotional payoff. We need passion in our lives, but we can’t build our life on passion alone. We need more, and that is where purpose comes in.
Purpose is the why behind what we do. It is our motivation, the reason we’ll stay in the fight when things get hard. Purpose is outward-facing and primarily has its roots planted in a much bigger picture. It is more about doing for others. Google defines purpose as the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. Whereas passion can be all over the place, wild, and exciting, purpose is much more focused and intentional.
Passions are about you and your journey. 
Purpose is what you do to make the world a better place. 
Passions are ever-changing.  
Purpose is constant.  
Passion is about happiness.  
Purpose is about wholeness – for ourselves, the world, and those we love.
For those who may have come from a church background, the idea of purpose may be a bit distorted. Many were taught we each have this divine calling, and somehow we believe it has to be a world-changing, life-saving assignment. Think Mother Teresa or a missionary in a third-world country. But what if that isn’t the truth? What if smaller choices are just as noble to pursue? I personally believe we all have the same purpose, whether you love Jesus, believe in the higher power of the universe, or don’t believe at all. That purpose is to love others and leave this world better than you found it. I am confident saying running a business, raising kids, being a lawyer, or volunteering at the local animal shelter are each capable of having as much purpose as the work Mother Teresa did for orphans in Kolkata. If you make a choice daily to get up and make the world and the people you interact with better for having you enter their story, then you have fulfilled a purpose greater than yourself and your feelings.
Now that we know what differentiates the two, we can narrow down how to live our purpose. We can start by asking ourselves some questions and by listening to the words we speak. 


If you hear yourself saying something like “I wish there was…” or “someone needs to…”, perhaps those are places of purpose for you. Think back to when you were a child. What were some dreams you had? Often that childlike innocence held tons of purpose before the world messed it up by telling you what you should do. For me, the most important question to ask yourself is about the end of your days here. If you were standing in the back observing your funeral service, what would you hope people would say about you? This line of questioning can be a game-changer, helping us see how life is about more than a career or all the to-do lists we fill with tasks. It is about leaving an impact on those around us. When you think about your eulogy, the words spoken are about the person you became throughout your life and how you made people feel. So ask yourself, who do you want to become? Remove all the roadblocks, obstacles, and excuses, and let yourself dream. What are you good at in life? What fills your cup? What do you long to see in this world? These answers help you move toward clarity on what your purpose is. 
Taking classes is a fantastic way to see how much interest you have in an area. If you have thought about doing something for a while but told yourself you lacked the skills, hit up Google and find a class you could take to dig a little deeper. There are so many free or inexpensive classes out right now! Or go old school and head to the library to read up on it!
Another activity that will help you find clarity is serving. Serving is also helpful if you are in a tough season or are unsure where or how to move. Serving others gets you out of your own way and will quickly teach you if you have any passion for this area of service. A few years back, a friend and I volunteered to deliver meals in downtown Atlanta for an organization. I thought for sure I would love it because I love people. But the reality was the majority of deliveries were made by sitting the food at doorways and never seeing the person receiving it. I learned that this wasn’t a fit for me because I crave face-to-face interaction. Serving teaches us how our passions plus our natural tendencies create a clear path to purpose.
In her book, The Wait of Success, author Valerie J. Lewis Coleman writes, “Passion without purpose leads to frustration. Purpose without passion leads to procrastination. Passion WITH purpose leads to success.” And I know we have all experienced these scenarios where one or the other was lacking, leaving us frustrated or avoiding the task like the plague! So, what next?
First, I want to reiterate the importance of searching within yourself for your passion and your purpose. Don’t allow these to be dictated by the laundry list of “should”  you were handed or the expectations of others. If you are going to design a life based on your dreams, you must know you will not find your passion and purpose outside yourself. And because you need your passion to be deeply personal as it creates momentum, it has to be your own. For those of us with boundary issues (raising my hand here!), drawing on the needs and desires of others will eventually drain you, and you won’t have the momentum needed to keep pressing on when things get tough. And we know things will get hard! Life will happen. That is why you must hold the flame of passion and the ownership of your purpose inside yourself.
Now let me also remind you of this, Lovie: You are strong and capable and worthy and up to the task set before you. No matter what circumstances you have lived, you can become the person needed to live the life of your dreams and wring every ounce of passion and purpose from this life before you leave it.
To get you started, I created a freebie full of questions to help you begin to live your purpose. It is linked below. No strings attached, I promise. I simply want to help you live your best life. Spend some time digging in, dreaming dreams, and asking questions. Take a class or read up on something interesting. If you can, find an area of interest and serve there. The more you explore different avenues, the easier it is to find the path meant for you. To review, here are the steps to take this week:
  1. Download the free pdf.
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Take small steps toward practicing your purpose and passion.
You deserve to live a life you flat adore. Living it on purpose with passion ensures you will. And remember, others are watching, and together we rise stronger, so let’s do this work for ourselves and those watching. 
Until next week, remember I am in it WITH you, always,
Coach Tammy,  

Ready to clarify your purpose and passion?

No strings attached!  Just download and spend some time asking yourself questions and dreaming for your ideal future.