I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro on the Fourth of July, 2014, my personal declaration of independence. Before I took the 30-mile journey to the oxygen-sparse air at 19,000 feet, I had to climb a real-life mountain, overcoming my restrictive thoughts and daily responsibilities.
At age 44, the questions seemingly outnumbered my reasons for going. Would my husband let me? How would my four children fare? What would everyone think as I left during the final summer before my twins went to college? Could I handle 10 days away as a solopreneur? Would I contract a life-threatening disease in Africa? Furthermore, I had never climbed a mountain; did I have the stamina to make it to the top? Where in the world would I find the time to train?
And most importantly, should I travel to another country to climb a mountain when no one seemed to understand why I would do such a thing?
The trek to the roof of Africa was truly unforgettable. The summit was literally and figuratively breathtaking. But the true transformation occurred before I took my first steps at the base of the mountain: permission to chase my dreams and live out my passion. I didn’t need to close my business, stress out my husband or leave my children behind to climb a mountain.
You don’t have to travel to Africa to pursue your passion. Give yourself permission to pursue your passion right now.
1. Bring recess back
Childhood was about fun, exploration and the opportunity to learn and grow. Playing was a full-time job! Take a journey back to recess. Ask your family what got you excited as a kid. Look at old photos and remember your childhood passions. Were you a fanatic on the jungle gym? Maybe cross-fit will be your next addiction. Have you forgotten how fun choir was in seventh grade? A karaoke night or sing-along might be just what you need
2. Just admit it, to yourself
Sometimes we don’t bother admitting to our dreams because we can’t see a path beyond our bank account and the people who depend on us. Unearth your passion by asking yourself what you would do if resources and responsibilities were no object. Before you nod off to sleep tonight, declare your desire to someday run a marathon or travel to Australia. You never know what might happen next!
3. Live your passion, right now
An all-or-nothing approach might be standing in the way of experiencing your passion. You don’t need to quit your job or put your house on the market to pursue what you love. So you chose a project management career instead of interior design school. Who cares? Carve out a few hours this week to help a friend redesign her daughter’s room.
4. Do a little research
The unknown can feel like a insurmountable wall, standing between you and the possibility of experiencing your passion. A little research might reveal your passion-driven life isn’t out so out of reach. Get the details; how much time and money would it take to sign up for a class, learn to play soccer or sit in the audience of your favorite talk show? With just a bit of information, your imagination will begin to cut a path to a future filled with your dreams.
5. Tell and show someone
Sometimes all it takes to bring your passion to life is a simple conversation with another human. Share your desires with the people around you. Show your best friend the sculpture you created in college. At the dinner table, surprise your family with your skiing aspirations. Expressing your passions out loud will make those dreams more tangible and likely.
6. Shadow or volunteer to do the real thing
Feed your passions with real-world experiences and your dreams will sharpen and evolve. Spend the day with an event planner and experience all that it takes to transform an empty warehouse into a place for celebration. Perhaps you love to act and sing. Why not volunteer for a stint with the community theater? Whether you are part of the cast, building sets or organizing the costumes, you can enjoy the privilege of living in your passion.
7. Create or join a passion group
The only thing better than pursuing your passions is sharing your excitement and anticipation with someone feels the same way you do. Train for your first marathon with a running group. Or, surprise your best friend and skating enthusiast with tickets to a professional skating competition. It’s always fun to do what you love with someone who loves it too!
8. Create a vision board
Turn your daydreams into a roadmap to your passions. Elevate your intentions by buying some materials, digging through images online and finding the perfect phrases in your old magazines. Put your passions on display by creating a vision board for your office or breakfast nook. You never know; your long shot might be just around the corner.
9. Play dress up
Stepping into your passion can be as simple as playing dress up. Buy one of those super-sharp knives and learn how to chop onions from a YouTube video. Plate your food like a pro in traditional chef coat as you serve a five-course dinner for your friends. Don’t wait until you have lost weight to buy fun workout clothing. Buy the splashy running tights you have saved in your online shopping cart and own your passion in the moment.
10. Make space for it in your life
You may never get to experience your passions if your yarn, pattern books and knitting needles are boxed up in the attic. Create an appealing space in your basement to create your masterpieces. Buy a used desk and refinish it, install a shelving unit and outfit a writing corner you can slip into when you have a few hours to spare. Creating physical space makes room for the mental space you need to pursue your passions today.
Don’t let your circumstances get in the way of your visions. Give yourself permission to experience your dreams.