Is weaving passion into work a privilege of the wealthy or an indulgence for the retired – or are we all created to find deep fulfillment in what we choose to do? These are questions Dr. Noeline Kirabo wrestled with in her home country of Uganda.
I met Noeline recently by watching her inspiring Ted talk, 2 Questions to Uncover Your Passion and Turn it into a Career.
Noeline eventually quit her stable job to pursue her passion and started a nonprofit to help young people in Uganda turn their passions into profitable businesses. This so courageous because, as she says, “People expected me to be fulfilled but there was a misalignment between what I did every day and what I deeply care about.”
Being passionate is not only caring deeply about something, but being energized, and feeling excitement. Pursuing a passion brings the deepest sense of fulfillment, happiness, and fills the well of our soul. Conversely, living a misaligned life brings unhealthy stress, boredom, unhappiness, and drains us.
How do you identify your passion in life? Noeline asks her young charges to look inside and answer two vital questions.
1. If you had all the time and money in the world what would you do?
2. What makes you happy and brings fulfillment?
It is tempting to fashion throw-away answers. If I win the lottery or become a trust fund kid, I would constantly travel the world, ski, play golf, and work on my tan from the deck of my yacht. Sure, fun can bring momentary happiness. But we are created to find deep fulfillment in a life of contribution lived with meaning and purpose. Perpetually chasing pleasure will never feed our soul. Mature passion finds itself giving something important to others - be it a laugh, a song, a lesson, an inspiration, or a hand up.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.””
— Pablo Picasso
Noeline is quick to point out that passion alone will not guarantee success. You must develop skills and your efforts must be marketable to become a career - or it can only be a hobby.
Living a life that marries our passion with our innate gifts is usually quite challenging. Very few of us get to be teen rock stars or A-list actors. But the quest for alignment is worth it. Let’s say, for example, you love music - it feeds your soul. There are many jobs in the field beyond performing. With diligence, you could find the right one to keep yourself in beer and Twinkies - and perform as a hobby.
Being clearheaded about our passions and our gifts takes a lot of hard, honest introspection. Deciding to work a plan to align our life with what brings us happiness and fulfillment takes courage and commitment - gritty perseverance.
Noeline concludes: The truth is you cannot truly start living until you learn to live from the inside out. You have to find what gives you the deepest sense of fulfillment and the deepest sense of joy and weave it into the patterns of your daily routines.
You will not just live, you will thrive.