Inspiration Series - Month Eight

Put Your Passion Into Practice

It’s not about being practical. It’s about putting your passion into practice.

If there is one objection people raise more than any other to the idea of following their dreams, it would probably be this: “It isn’t practical.” And by that they mean that they can’t make any money at it right away (or ever), or it would distract them from doing what they need to do to make money, or it would simply be too time-consuming or, possibly, that no one has done it before and therefore it probably can’t be done.

They confess their dreams with a blush of embarrassment and a sigh of resignation, as if in revealing their dreams to me, they are revealing how frivolous or naïve they are. Surely no one who is serious about making good money and being a responsible adult would nurture a secret wish to sing in night clubs or make jewelry or write a novel or research ancient mystery schools. That would be a waste of time. It wouldn’t contribute in any way toward successfully handling the business of life. It would be impractical.

Or so they think. And that kind of thinking will never open them to an inspired life.

You, of course, have already committed to living an inspired life, which is why you’re here. You know that the way you think has everything to do with the life you create, and you’re learning to think and focus in ways that increase the flow of creative energy in your life rather than restrict it.

Yet you may still feel the tug of needing to be practical pulling at you. You may still be operating on the premise that time is fixed, you only have so many hours in a day and you simply can’t indulge your passion as much as you want to, because doing so would interfere with all the important demands on your time and attention.

And yet the fundamental thing about passion – and all of its relatives such as delight and wonder and joy and longing – is this: passion enlivens us. It literally keeps us alive. It changes our brain chemistry. It clarifies our priorities. It alters our perspective, improves our mood and increases our energy level. It can even change our relationship with time.

I remember years ago, not long after I finally gave myself permission to follow my longings to be a writer and a teacher, I found myself stuck and frustrated. I was doing part-time consulting work in the corporate world to bridge my transition from full-time employee to full-time entrepreneur, and my client asked me to take on a critical project that would increase the number of hours I was working for them significantly.

I didn’t want to give them more time, but I felt I had to. And that meant I would have less time to give to my writing and coaching and teaching. It seemed frivolous to consider otherwise. After all, my fledgling business wasn’t yet generating the kind of income I needed to live on, so I would have to put it on the back burner and do the responsible thing of keeping my corporate client happy.

Or so I thought at first. You can imagine my surprise when, after explaining to my beloved coach Tama Kieves how I would need to spend more time with my client and less time on Solid Ground, she responded this way: “They’re asking you for more time?” Yes they were, I confirmed. “So…give more time to Solid Ground.”

At first I thought she hadn’t heard me correctly. I attempted to explain the situation to her in more detail, complete with the 24-hour-per-day math calculations, so she would understand the predicament I was in.

She maintained her position. I was still confused, so she gently explained the new math. I don’t remember her exact words, but in essence she told me that daring to continue investing time in my passion would expand me in ways I couldn’t yet appreciate, and in that expansion I would discover that I had all the time I needed.

I decided to give it a try. After all, she was a best-selling author, living the kind of life I aspired to; surely she must know a thing or two I had yet to learn.

She did.

So I didn’t pull back from my writing or teaching or coaching. I did increase the number of hours I worked for my corporate client. And somehow, it all worked. I discovered that, in continuing to devote time and energy to my dream, my energy expanded. I felt more grounded and purposeful and excited about life. I suspect I became better at identifying true priorities and being mindful of my time, yet I didn’t approach that as a heavy task. I just made sure I found ways to stay connected with what really mattered to me, and allowed everything else to fit around it.

I learned to put my passion into practice in my life, no matter what.

That’s how I think of it now: putting passion into practice. How will our dreams ever become practical – how will they ever become an integral part of our everyday lives – unless we practice living that way?

They won’t. Our dreams and passions deserve our energy and attention, which is exactly what practicing is: intentionally giving our energy and attention to something on a consistent basis.

And the beauty of practicing our passion is that we get to make it up as we go along! This isn’t about following rigid rules or squeezing things into tight timetables. This is about deciding that what lights us up really matters, and then asking ourselves questions such as, “How can I create space for this? What might my life be like if this passion or dream was fully realized? What elements of that vision can I include in my life, right now? What aspect of my dream or passion is the most fun? What kinds of things can I do regularly that will keep me engaged with it?”

Keep asking questions until you find the ones that point you in a direction that feels good. This isn’t about doing the “right” things, it’s about doing things that help you feel on-purpose and building momentum.

Your practice might include anything from writing about your dreams in your journal, to researching how others have succeeded in similar areas, to scheduling regular time with a friend or coach to brainstorm next steps, to setting up your daily routine as if you were already living your dreams, to actually practicing a skill that relates to your passion, such as singing or writing or painting.

Be willing to experiment and explore. Try out different schedules. Try having no schedule at all, just an ongoing commitment to staying connected with your dream. Consider creating a small ritual at the start of whatever you do that acknowledges the higher purpose of your practice. Put “dream practice” on your calendar or to-do list, even if you don’t know, specifically, what you’ll be doing during that time. Tinker, adjust, and tinker some more. Intend for it all to be ease-filled.

There is one particular thing, however, that’s essential to putting your passion into practice in a way that feeds you rather than depletes you: being totally present with whatever you choose to do in that moment. And that means saying a firm “No” to any thoughts of worry, judgment or doubt that may surface. No second-guessing. No calculations of how much time it’s taking. No criticism of any kind.

Make yourself a firm promise: “I’m choosing now to practice bringing my dreams to life. Nothing is more important in this moment. I will give myself totally to what I’m doing, and will disallow any thoughts of criticism, doubt or worry. My dreams are worthy of my energy and attention.”

Invite your passion into your life, and make room for it through your practice. Let it expand you and elevate you and illuminate you. Let it transform you. Let it teach you that living from your heart is the most practical thing you could ever do, because in doing so you become wise, loving and powerful.

Inspired Practices

  • Listen to this meditation several times over the next few weeks. Allow each experience to be a new one.
  • Ask the question, “How could I put my passion into practice?” Keep the question open – contemplate it, write about it in your journal, meditate on it…then act on your inspired ideas.