Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Barrie Davenport of BarrieDavenport.com.
Remember when you were a child waking up on the morning of your birthday? You stretch and yawn, and at first it feels like any other morning. Then the realization that it’s your birthday reaches your conscious awareness.
You are suddenly transformed. A wave of excitement and joyful anticipation washes over you. The day is going to be amazing — filled with surprises, fun, and celebration. You feel fully alive at that moment. You throw the covers back and race downstairs to greet the day.
Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if you could wake up that way now? How would it feel to greet every single day with that level of enthusiasm — or at least the adult version of it?
When you have a passion in life — especially a passion fueled by vision and purpose — you can wake up with that same joy and enthusiasm. When you’re engaged in something that is fulfilling, fun, and meaningful, you are truly in the flow of “peak experience” living.
Is that peak experience of living really possible on a regular basis? Yes it is. I have it in my own life, and I see it in others every day.
In my work as a life passion coach, I partner with people to help uncover their life passions and find a way to live their passion within the practical context of their lives. This work is a process of self-discovery, addressing roadblocks, prioritizing, and creating specific actions to move them from their current life to a life more aligned with their calling.
One of the most important steps in uncovering and living your passion is creating space for it in your inner and outer world.
Unlike children, we adults have cluttered our lives with emotional baggage, crammed schedules, and physical stuff. We are swimming in a sea of pollution that inhibits us from having clarity, energy, and time — necessary ingredients in creating a passionate life.
All of this “stuff” overwhelms us and paralyzes us from taking action. We have no idea where to start or what to do first. So quite often, we do nothing. And thus everything stays the same.
Clearing the clutter of your inner and out life is important work. It forces you to take an honest look at yourself and your life to see how you have strayed from the path of becoming the person you want to be — the person you are authentically.
If you are interested in finding and living your own life passion, beginning this clean-up work is a great place to start.
Here are three ways you can simplify and clean up your life to create the space for passionate living:
Our emotions are crazy little things. We can be cruising along feeling perfectly fine and then one morning wake up with a dark cloud hovering over us. We might feel sad, anxious, annoyed, or just out-of-sorts for no obvious reason. It is normal to have occasional emotional disturbances. They are part of life and often tied to circumstances that are short-lived — the weather, hormone fluctuations, poor sleep, stress, etc.
But it’s the emotions that hang around for a while, impacting your ability to enjoy life and function fully, that need your full attention. Feelings of depression, anxiety, anger, bitterness, fear, or general malaise lasting for weeks or months, are huge signals that you need to clean your emotional house. These negative emotions will sabotage any efforts you make toward finding and living your passion. With every step you take toward your passion, your emotions will drag you backward with low self-esteem, doubt, fear, and lethargy. You want your emotional state to be clear, simple, and peaceful so you have the energy to pursue your passion.
When it is not, you must use whatever mental and physical energy you do possess to restore your emotional balance. Allowing anxiety, sadness and depression to linger and remain untreated can lead to a spiral of despair. Many people resist seeking help because they feel they should be able to handle these emotions themselves. But the most proactive and life-affirming decision is to seek support from a doctor or therapist to treat both the symptoms and the root cause of these emotions. If you don’t address the cause, the symptoms will continue to clutter your psyche and hold you back.
You can support your emotional clean-up through self-care with exercise, meditation, proper diet, walking in nature, spending time with supportive friends, and practicing positive affirmations. Even staying highly focused on an engaging activity will help you forget about your negative emotions. Avoid ruminating or over-thinking, as repetitive thoughts only reinforce negative feelings.
Often simplifying your life in other ways (see below) will help you calm and simplify your emotions by reducing stress and overwhelm.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that the more we schedule our lives, the more we can multi-task, the longer and harder we work, the more valuable we are to society. Perhaps we are more valuable to those we accommodate with our adrenaline-fueled lifestyles. But we are diminishing ourselves in the process.
Aside from the obvious health consequences of living this way (stress, exhaustion, etc.), an adrenaline-fueled life leaves no room for self-reflection, creative experimentation, or clear decision-making required for finding a life passion. We are stuck on a treadmill of tasks, commitments, and useless time-fillers because we haven’t allowed ourselves the space to know what our deepest desires might be.
It is hard to detach from this lifestyle, to cut back to the essentials to give yourself space. We often feel guilty that we are letting others down or worried that we might be perceived as lazy and non-productive. But the purpose of life isn’t to produce. It’s to live fully and joyfully. We aren’t here to accommodate other people’s hopes and dreams. We are meant to fulfill our own. And by living your passion, you are serving the world in a far more profound way than by checking off items on a to-do list.
So how can you detach and simplify your lifestyle? You can begin by giving yourself one hour a week to devote to the act of simplifying. Start by looking at everything that takes your time during your waking hours to assess the most obvious places you can cut back. Begin with the easiest changes first so that you become accustomed to saying “no” to yourself and others. Train yourself to embrace “free” time to use for introspection and creative thought.
Part of the process of simplifying your life is determining your life priorities. You may have many interests and many seeming obligations, but it’s impossible to pursue all of them with any depth and enjoyment. Pick your top five and focus intently on those. Allow yourself to be deeply engaged in the task at hand without worrying about the next item on the list. Becoming deeply engaged puts you in that state of “flow” that is immensely peaceful and satisfying. By simplifying your lifestyle, you will create some of the necessary emotional healing mentioned above.
You might wonder why physical clutter and the accumulation of material things might impact your ability to find and live your life passion — but it has a huge impact. As part of our adrenaline fueled lives, we’ve be led to believe that the accumulation of stuff is a worthy goal. More outward symbols of success reveals to the world that we are worthy and important.
But as you’ve probably learned, material things require time and energy. A big home is expensive and needs to be cleaned and maintained. A fancy car requires money, maintenance, and fosters the subtle anxiety that it might get scratched or stolen. More gadgets, iPads, computers, televisions, and other electronics pull us away from real interactions with family and friends.
We hold on to stuff and have closets filled with clothes we don’t wear, papers scattered on our desks, books and magazines we are done with, other things we hang on to “just in case we might need it some day.” But all of this stuff creates mental agitation and distraction. It’s like a scratchy sweater that is subtly irritating, but we don’t think it’s worth doing something about it.
An abundance of things and unnecessary physical clutter drains us of energy we could put toward living a creative, passionate life. Instead of constantly reorganizing things, cleaning, repairing, and getting absorb by electronic images, we could be experiencing and creating something that is deeply fulfilling, fun, and important.
You can reclaim that energy by clearing the physical clutter, throwing away and giving away things you know longer use or that are distractions for you. As you open up this physical space, you will also reclaim time to pursue your passion — a far more valuable way to spend your precious hours.
As you simplify your life by cleaning up your emotions, lifestyle, and physical space, you will find that life in general is less of a struggle. You will give yourself breathing room for self-discovery, exploration, and creative ideas. And these create the fertile ground for finding and living your life passion.