Want to Find Your Life Passion? Start by Simplifying Your Life

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:

Emotions

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.

Adrenaline Lifestyle

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.

Physical Clutter

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.

***

Barrie Davenport is a life passion coach, author, and founder of BarrieDavenport.com, a site devoted to helping people uncover and live their life passions. You can also find her on Twitter.

Image: tipiro

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    There are so many things about this post that are spot on. Just spot freaking on. “Unlike children, we adults have cluttered our lives with emotional baggage, crammed schedules, and physical stuff.” How true is that? VERY. I think about that sometimes — how was I so carefree and happy as a kid? Oh, right, I wasn’t carrying around emotional baggage, I wasn’t trying to make as much money as possible, etc. “THe point of life isn’t to produce but to live fully” — that flies in the face of our culture so much. But it’s so true. How happy are we when we produce lots? Eh. But when we live fully, man does that feel good.

    Great great great post!

    • says

      Wow, thank you SO much TB. I am so delighted the post resonated with you. Yes, living fully is far more fun that a pocket full of cash. And you don’t need much cash to live fully. How culture has done us a disservice. I think self-awareness should be a required course during every year of our schooling, don’t you? :)

  2. says

    I love your description of a child waking up on their birthday full of enthusiasm. I was thinking about a similar thing just the other day. I remember when I was young agonizing about how far away Christmas seemed. Didn’t it seem to take forever for it to get here?

    Now, holidays and birthdays sneak up on me so fast and I know it’s because somewhere along the way I let life get too busy and lost that sense of anticipation that surrounded everything as a child. I love seeing that anticipation in my kids and try to encourage it. But I’ve recently discovered that I need to develop my own sense of anticipation too. I want things about my life to be so exciting I can’t wait for them to arrive. I want to be as excited for the Christmas countdown as my children are. And you’re right, we can’t get excited like that when things like clutter and busyness are choking out our passion.

    Thanks for your post. Lovely reminder.

    • says

      Hi Faith,
      Yes! Anticipation is way underrated. The joy of looking forward to something wonderful is very sweet. So is the process of finding your passion and planning and taking action to create it in your life. The process is usually more fulfilling than the outcome if we choose to focus on it.

  3. says

    Awesome post Barrie. I fully agree with this statement – “An abundance of things and unnecessary physical clutter drains us of energy we could put toward living a creative, passionate life.” I have been slowly getting rid of physical clutter and have definitely noticed the creativity towards my blog and overall passion in life has become much more fulfilling. Mahalo and Aloha for all of your insights.

    Aloha!

  4. Ton Pracy says

    Thanks for this strong article – A reminder that social indoctrination is something that we need to take the time to question – Routine in itself is not necessarily a negative thing. It’s the content of the routine that needs to be explored and questioned.

  5. Cristian DiNunzio says

    Hi Barrie, you have described something that has plagued me for years. I’ve been trying to clear my emotional state for years. This has truly helped me clarify a few things I’m trying to do are good. I pray that all will be revealed soon for my inner passion. I’ve been searching for it all my adult life and still unsure. Any thoughts? All the best, Cristian DiNunzio

    • says

      Hi Cristian,
      I don’t think your passion will be revealed — you are going to have to seek it out! It requires much inner and outer work, which I’m sure you’ve been doing. If you haven’t take a personality and/or career assessment, I would suggest starting there. Find out your personality type (there are free assessments online) and then research information about your type. Make notes about what resonates with you. Also, I know that for a strong interest to shift into a passion, it takes some level of proficiency in the interest. And that requires practice. Have you spent enough time with a strong interest to get fairly proficient to see if it becomes deeply engaging? Please check out my site for many articles on this topic Cristian. Don’t give up! :)

      • Cristian DiNunzio says

        Hi Barrie,
        Thanks for that reply. I have to be honest and say I have sought out my life passion for many many years and I still haven’t a clue what it is. I’ve thought many times I found it… Eureka! but no. There are things I like and things I love, but I eventually get bored of them. I don’t stay deeply engaged in them after so long.
        I have dreams and aspirations. But they seem miles away from reach… and usually they actually are too. The work I currently do is in very little way satisfying to me. Jobs I have wanted that I would enjoy much more have been not possible to get into after years of constantly trying. Nobody gives me a chance, no dorrs are opened to me. So, I’m now utterly confused about what to do, what my life passion really is. I don’t want to spill all my personal problems on a public page, but I have had quite a few recently (with a breakup and a trip that has taken me half way around the world from my 4 year old son). I’m planning to return when I can afford the move. So, I am really trying hard to figure things out, I just need help, and you are right in your article… you can’t do it alone. I just don’t seem to have anyone around here that can be a support system for me or who knows enough to be of the right kind of help. And I feel totally alone where I am. I’d be in debt for all time to you or anyone that can point me in the right direction.

  6. Dana says

    Great article Barrie! I’ve been slowly decluttering my physical surroundings for about 2 weeks now then I come across your article. Quick question, when you mentioned your top 5 priorities, are you saying “any interests” because mine are spending time with my animals (I can’t get rid of them but have no intention of owing so many ever again), exercising, reading, massaging and hiking/camping. Or should my interests involve career stuff too. Work is just work, ya know even though I am going back to school to do something in Ecology, a subject matter I’m immensely passionate about.

    • says

      Hi Dana,
      Some of your priorities are obligatory. Work would be one of them. So start there since it consumes a lot of time. If you spend 8 hours a day at work, and you sleep around 7 hours, and you spend a few hours eating, showering, and driving, as well as running errands and doing chores — how many hours are left in your day? Maybe 6-7 and more on the weekends. So let’s say you have somewhere between 60-70 hours a week to work with. How do you want to spend that time? If relationships are a priority, how much time do you want to spend with the people you love? Ask that question about your remaining priorities and see how the time shakes out. Being mindful about how you want to spend your available time will help you laser in on what’s most important.

  7. says

    Wonderful post! Among other things I particularly enjoyed the following phrase: “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.” This has been really inspiring. Thank you :)

  8. says

    Great post with some tremendous points. I had never heard the term “adrenaline lifestyle” before but it is a spot on description to life today. When too much gets crammed into the day, it’s easy to become a victim of guilt, failure or burnout. When this cycle continues day after day, it has to be hard to stay positive. Better to do less, do it well and wake up looking forward to the day.

    • says

      Hi David,
      It is a great term! Many people get hooked on that “adrenaline high” — that feeling of needing to rush through life and stay charged-up. But it causes burn-out and eventually emptiness. Doing less allows you to embrace life more!

  9. Caryn says

    I have recently become a fan of Becoming Minimalist, and have been working to physically declutter for about a month, I started on our bedroom and find I sleep better, I meditate every night and fall into a wonderful nights’ sleep and wake up feeling like my inner child, todays’ post was especially relevant as I am seen as one of the most industrious and energetic people, today I found time after two appointments to have a spa & sauna, clean the house and do something for me i.e. work on a piece of art that I started three months ago. My husband and I also found time last week to take the photographs we had promised ourselves for our tenth wedding anniversary, five weeks ago, I found time yesterday to buy the frame, he found time to print the pics and tonight we hung it together in our newly zenned bedroom. I also took Monday off to help a friend, all day to help her with my newly found lifestyle. I haven’t caught up with her for over six months, she actually said to me that she had missed our friendship as we had previously spoken daily and had lunch monthly.

  10. Jan Tessier says

    Hi! Thank you so much for the article. I need help! It seems I have gotten myself into a simplified mess. In the past two years, I have drastically simplified my life…minimizing possessions, committments, distractions. I have created time and space for…what? Arg. I’m bored stiff. I have become a stay-at-home-mom. I am fully committed to the job. Alas, the task is not a good fit. I am not very domestic. Plus, I’ve created time and space…which leaves me really bored and uninspired. Help?

    • says

      Hi Jan,
      First, congratulations that you have simplified and cleared time and space. That’s fantastic — even though now it feels like you have a big hole in your life. I would use this time to work on finding what you feel passionate about. Make finding your passion your passion for now! (There are many articles on my site about how to go about that.) And once you find it, even if you can’t pursue it full time now because of your commitments to raising children, begin to brainstorm how you can work it into your life for the future. This will give you a sense of purpose and direction. And perhaps there is a way to both raise kids and work part-time from home. I’ve been doing that for years, and it is wonderful! :)

  11. Stephanie says

    I stumbled here today quite by accident. Regardless of how accidental my arrival here was I found something I needed and encouragement to get there. For awhile now my life has been stagnant and chaotic and cluttered. Though deep down I knew I needed to simplify and minimalize my life, I just could not see through it all to find where to begin or how. Thank you for your insights and help, I feel weight being lifted off of me now.

  12. says

    When I read “the purpose of life isn’t to produce. It’s to live fully and joyfully”, I tought “YES!”. My mantra is “Live Life Wide”, I can totally relate to all what you’re saying in the post!

  13. says

    Nothing here makes sense to me more than “Decluttering Your Life.” All too often we find ourselves immersed in silly tasks which give us no happiness. By decluttering, or simplifying our lives, we might actually have more time to stop, think, and realize what makes us happy, and to actually go and pursue it.

    Great read, thank you.

  14. says

    Just found this post! Many thanks for writing. The part about being conditioned to being more valuable to society by scheduling more and more stuff really made a lot of sense.
    Might explain some of the guilt that we can feel when we just take a break and do nothing.

  15. Joyce Speer says

    How can I declutter this house when I come home from work exhausted and I’m trying to clean stuff but it gets so draining…. Plus my boyfriend is lazy. BF of ten yrs mind you…he updated all the windows in his house ten years…still hasn’t finished the inside! This and work…can’t fix it…so it feels!?

  16. says

    wow! I love this stuff! Very practical

    ‘…find a way to live their passion WITHIN THE PRACTICAL CONTEXT OF THEIR LIVES’

  17. says

    At 71 , I am enjoying getting rid of treasures by passing them on to kids and grand kids.. Being as I love people so much and try to lend a hand , I have also had to stop being with NEGATIVE folks , who have no true TRUE desire to get out of their choices. Some are mentally challenged due to past issues in their life , and I have to draw a line to make them respect my health as well. Sa sad , but my LORD is able to help the more than I can . So I cry out to my GOD for them and myself so as I don’t become an enabler , or get in GOD’s way.

  18. Ben says

    I have spent the last 2 years of life trying to find a passion or at least a reason for living with some kind of purpose. I have had several career moves in my 57 years and am just out of energy and motivation to try and come up with what to do next. I am not happy living this way at a menial job where there is no gratitude for what a person does and where there are backstabbers just trying to get a person in trouble. I used to have fire in my spirit and a walk with purpose but now I just seem to plug along and suffer from day to day. This all started to unravel when I had a partial lung removal surgery 2 years ago. I didn’t recvover as fast as I thought I would and got severely depressed. I had been self employed previous to this and had to sell my business as I didn’t think I could continue withe the physical demands of the work(landscaping). And I did take a job of driving for a delivery service company which is what I’m not happy about. But I’m lacking the confidence to go out and start something else or knowing what to do at this point. I just feel all the fire has gone out of life and as my daughter said to me once”dad you look like someone stuck a hose in you and sucked out all your life.” Not a great feeling to say the least but just venting on how life can go at times. Any advice is appreciated.

  19. Sandy says

    Excellent Post!!! I recently have gone back to school again at 43 and feel overwhelmed and sometimes I think to myself, why am I really going back to school? I did it for my job, which Im not a true fan of anymore……..
    always love your reads, its a daily highlight!

  20. Martin says

    Since my children have grown and left the nest I find myself simplifying my life, smaller house, etc. Now how do I find that ‘passion’, that thing that drives me and that fills my time productively, passionately, peacefully??

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