True Calling Tip: What Fills You with Passion?

Posted by on November 19, 2013 in True Self | 6 comments

One of the easiest ways to find your true calling is to do things that fill you with passion.  Not your parents, or your teachers, or your friends—but you.  It may take some time to discover what truly excites you so don’t give up too soon. Perhaps you’ve never engaged in your true passion before, or only tried it once.  Be open to the possibilities, and for goodness’ sake, don’t settle for less. 

Jane’s True Calling Tip

true calling tipFor example, “Jane” was a successful Fortune 500 executive with a PhD from Yale who took my workshop because she needed a creative outlet.  Jane was very analytical.  You could almost see the smoke come out of her ears whenever she spoke in class.  I could have sworn I actually heard her mind whirring once!  Anyway, Jane thought she should try to write since it was a hobby she’d engaged in for years.  But she was now suffering from writer’s block.  She didn’t know it yet, but unconsciously, she’d assumed her creative outlet should be writing because her father was a writer.

Jane ended up taking three workshops from me.  By the end of the second class she was writing more than she had before, but she wasn’t enjoying the process.  At the beginning of the third class, I hinted to her that maybe there was a good reason for her lack of enthusiasm for writing. I suggested that she abstain from it altogether.

true calling tip“You m-mean not write?” she stammered.  “Not-n at all?”  She grew a little pale.  “Not a word,” I replied.  Jane opened up her mouth to speak, but no words came.  She was clearly shaken by my suggestion, so I knew we were on to something. 

“Think of it as an experiment.  If at the end of the ten weeks we meet, you still want to write, go ahead and start again.  In the meantime, why don’t you see what other interests pop up instead?”

The following week Jane seemed unusually relaxed.  “I didn’t do anything,” she reported with a smile.  “Nothing. Nada.”  I’d never heard her express herself so playfully before. 

true calling tipWhen we met next Jane appeared ten years old to me. “I went to Baskin Robbins and ordered vanilla ice cream, which is actually my favorite flavor,” she announced gleefully. “For years I’ve been getting chocolate and I don’t even know why.”  I had no idea where this was going, but I could tell it was a step in the right direction.

The following week Jane brought a potholder into class and held it up proudly. “This is what I felt like creating this time.”  It was lopsided, more like a trapezoid than a square, and the orange and blue colors clashed, but I could tell she was having fun. I encouraged her to go on. true calling tip

Then something changed.  Jane came into class with a new sketch.  “An image for a drawing popped into my mind.  I had no idea how to sketch, but I bought charcoal pencils and a sketchpad anyway.”   The following week Jane enrolled in a drawing class, and by the end of our workshop, she’d graduated to painting.  The last day of class she unveiled a wonderful painting of her husband, and looked at me sweetly.  “Thank you so much for stopping me from writing so I could discover what I really love doing.”

This often happens to students in my workshops.  Like Jane, you may be reading this blog thinking you want to do one thing with your life, but you may end up doing something else altogether.  I’ve watched poets become presidents of companies, and CEOs become poets.  When Jane set herself free from what she thought she should do, she found her true passion.  The clearest path to leading a fulfilling creative life is to do what you love.  Keep this true calling tip in mind. What makes you curious about the world?  What fills you with passion?  Set yourself free and find out.


  1. Love your blog!

    • Thank you so much. I love writing it!

  2. I’m finding a very interesting phenomenon–people comment on my blogs mostly on Facebook. For any reader who hasn’t seen these there, thought you might be interested!

    Maria Pere-Perez I’m very grateful for these blogs. Thank you for doing them every week.

    Machell Embry Oviedo Your blog is wonderful

    Michelle Millis Chappel Thanks so much! Writing these grounds me, even in the most difficult times. I hope they do the same for you.

    Kenny Rumrill Your blogs are inspiring some songs from me.

    Lea Fad Great Job, Michelle!

    Michelle Millis Chappel Oh, I’m so glad to hear that Kenny — YES! Thanks Lea.

    Pat Ordway Thanks Michelle for taking the time, and having the insight to share these wonderful ideas.

    Rebecca Parks Another great blog. I have a rule that I must practice at least 10 minutes a day, no matter how tired I am. About 90% of the time I end up practicing for an hour or two because I lose track of time. Whatever puts you in the moment and makes you forget everything else is what you’re passionate about.

    Michelle Millis Chappel Thanks Pat! It is my sincere pleasure. Ah Rebecca, you are a mind reader… my next blog is about what makes time disappear for you!

    Eric Rauch Wonderful story!

    Michelle Millis Chappel Thanks Eric. Jane went on to find a couple more passions, but I just love the way she found this one.

  3. An open mind and willingness to experiment are essential on this path

    • Absolutely. I had a couple of readers email and ask me to discuss this one further from a parent’s point of view… so I will keep on it.

  4. I find good advice from your blog posts.

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