Have you found yourself lately asking yourself these questions? “What should I do with my life?” “What is my passion?” or “What is my life purpose?” These are universal questions for everyone, but women in their absolute prime may find these questions start to speak a little louder than they did before.

Most of the professionals I coach are over 50 and either by their own choice or due to their current employer’s reorganization or reduction in force, are now able to give those questions the thought they deserve. Regardless of the reason these questions pop up, the end goal is the same – living a life of purpose, on purpose.

See these 3 tips for how to honestly answer those questions about finding your passion and then turn the answers into a plan of action for success and happiness in your next venture:

1. Understand that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.

The prevailing myth of passion suggests that it arrives in some divine, magical burst of inspiration, but in reality, passion is uncovered through action, exploration, and work. Passion is something we actively discover and involves being proactive. I like proactive plans as they actually put you in the driver’s seat versus your career being one of fate or happenstance. When I coach professionals that are making a career transition, I often discover that they feel like they do not have any other career options. But this is often because they have not given themselves permission to seek career happiness. The first phase of exploration involves taking stock of your core values and starting to explore career options that align with your unique core values. And options are a good thing!

To narrow down the focus further, the next action item entails meeting people in those occupations and asking questions you can’t ask in an interview such as what is the demand for the role, what is an actual day look like, what salary should you expect to what are the stressor’s and the rewards of this role? By taking this action and learning more, you can weed in and weed out options. Remember, passion and purpose are discovered by doing!

2. Put on your Dana Scully, Nancy Drew or Olivia Benson detective hat!

Woman With Detective HatOnce you have decided that finding a career that brings you happiness is a real viable option, it’s time to put on the hat of a detective and look for evidence of what you already love to do. Scan your lifetime of experiences to search for clues you have left behind in the form of memories when you found joy while performing an activity, paid or unpaid. When did you feel like you were doing something with your time that was important? When do you find ‘flow’ or things come easily to you? What are your greatest contributions that you are truly proud of? The answers to these questions are the clues necessary to narrow down your options and determine your focus and purpose. This purpose will inform your life decisions from what types of jobs or companies you decide to target, who you connect with, what skills you decide to market and how you define success.

3. Follow your Inner GPS.

You have your own internal GPS system – yes, you! And not one that just gives great directions to the next meeting, but one that tells you how to get from your current career (Point A) to the next great thing (Point B). This internal GPS system tells you when you are off course by the amount of joy you are experiencing. For a GPS system to work, it simply needs to know your beginning location and end destination. When you view the clues that unsurface as you start to pay attention to those peak moments in your life and match your core values with career options, the destination will become clear. By knowing and locking in the end destination, your internal GPS can now begin to plot the perfect course.

What matters most is to find something that will become a central focus of your life; something that makes your heart sing. Once you are doing this one thing, nothing else will matter.

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” -Gloria Steinem


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