post written by: Angel Chernoff

26 Steps to Living a Life You Love


26 Steps to the Life You Dream About

by Barrie Davenport

Have you dreamed of doing something big with your life?  Are you longing to find your passion — something that makes you come alive?  We all want to live a passionate, purposeful life, but most people have no idea how to go about doing that.  How do you know what your passion is or if you’ve chosen the right path?  How do you recreate the life you have now to build the amazing life you want to have?  There are so many considerations, decisions and potential roadblocks.

However, finding and living your life passion is one of the most important endeavors you will ever undertake.  Once you are living your passion, the quality of your life will improve dramatically.  When you are doing something you love — something you feel deeply engaged in — everything feels easier and more joyful.

There is a process to uncovering your passion and living your passion.  It isn’t hard, but it does take commitment, patience, and tenacity.  There are many practical considerations in addition to the research and experimentation required in figuring out exactly what is the best fit for you.

But don’t be disheartened, because it is so worth it.  And once you make the decision to work toward your passion, you’ll find the daily actions you take to get there offer so much satisfaction on their own.  When you know a great outcome is ahead, the work to reach that outcome doesn’t really feel like work.

Let’s look at some of the actions you can take to get the ball rolling.

Preparation

1.  Write a vision.  Write down exactly what you want your life to look like at the end of this process, in every area of your life.  Post the vision where you can see it every day.  You can revise it along the way if you want.

2.  Examine your current life.  You’ve been focused on what you don’t like about your life, but examine your current life to see how much of it matches your vision.  You want to maintain those things and remember that part of your vision is already happening.

3.  Define your values.  Make sure you’re clear on your core values for your life.  Every decision you make about your passion and how you want your life to look should support or reflect those values.   Here’s a list of 400 value words.

4.  What are you tolerating?  What in your current life are you just tolerating?  What drains your energy or constantly bugs you?  Start addressing these things one by one to make room for the new, good stuff coming your way.

5.  Get rid clutter.  Not only physical clutter but the clutter of too many distractions, activities and commitments that suck your time and energy.

6.  Refine your relationships.  Look at all of your close relationships, both personal and professional.  Are there any that drain you, upset you, or cause you problems?  How can you release these people or change your relationship with them to make room for important, new relationships?

7.  Make an appointment.  Set a daily or thrice weekly appointment with yourself to work on your life passion actions.  If you don’t set aside the time for the work, you will never reach your goal.  Make it non-negotiable.

8.  Communicate.  Talk with the people in your life who need to know what you are working toward.  If your passion is threatening to a spouse or loved one, provide assurances that you are planning carefully.  You will need their buy-in and support.

Finances

9.  Save money.  Begin putting money aside in a savings account.  You may need this as you transition toward your new life — for education, to get a business started, or to sustain you financially as you transition.

10.  Decide your income.  Determine your lowest acceptable yearly income.  To do this, you will need to know how you spend your money, where you can cut back, and how long you are willing to live at this income level.

11.  Find other income streams.  Start thinking about ways you can bring in extra cash in a pinch.  Even if you transition from one full-time job to another, it’s always good to have a back-up plan.

Research

12.  Start reading.  Read everything you can about your passion or passions.  Look at how other people have translated that passion into a career.  Make notes about anything that seems interesting or relevant to you.

13.  Refine your search.  As you begin reading and researching, you may find one or more career options that jump out at you.  Deepen your research on those topics to find out exactly what kind of education is needed, who is already successful in this area, what kind of salary you could make, how long it would take to become proficient in this area.

14.  Find a mentor.  Find one or two people who are doing what you want to do and doing it well.  Connect with them.  Send an email to ask for their advice.  Make a list of questions you want to ask.

15.  Refine further.  As you learn some of the specifics of making a profit from your passion, do more research on what needs to be done to take those actions.  This may be an on-going process as you are learning or transitioning.

16.  Take some assessments.  Whether or not you are pursuing self-employment or working in a team environment, it’s useful to take a career personality test, an entrepreneurial aptitude test, and an emotional intelligence test.  These will help you see where you might run into difficulties and what you are most well-suited for.  You can find many of these free online.  Here’s an entrepreneur assessment and an emotional intelligence assessment.

Transition

17.  Take action.  Taking the first real action toward your dream is scary.  It might be signing up for a course, taking out a loan, volunteering, or buying an instrument.  This is the first action that says to you, “I’m committed to changing my life.”  You may not feel 100% sure that your first step is the right step, but you have to take it to find out.  So set a date and take it.

18.  Brainstorm and write.  Think about all of the possible action steps you will need to take to get you from here to there (once you have done your research).  Make one big long list, then go back and prioritize and order the list.  Break down each action step into the smallest possible steps.

19.  Set up a calendar.  Start building your planning calendar by assigning the above action steps to specific days or weeks.  Allow yourself time for setbacks, interruptions, or changes.

20.  Keep communicating.  Remember to keep those close to you involved and in the loop.  You may meet some resistance.  Think ahead about this possibility and how you will handle it.  What is the bottom line for you?  For them?  Keep the lines of communication open.

21.  Decide about your current job.  Be sure to include as part of your action steps how you will move from your current job into your new one.  Will you continue working at your old job as you start your new work?  How and when will you discuss this with your employer?  Be sure to leave on a good note and handle things professionally so you can maintain those ties.

The Process

22.  Stay financially prepared.  Depending on what you are doing, you may not bring in much money at the beginning of a new career.  If you’ve done your planning, you are prepared with savings and/or extra income streams.  Keep an emergency fund available and a list of contacts for extra work if necessary.

23.  Juice up your motivation.  It is natural when you move from something safe and secure to the unknown to feel fear and lose motivation at times.  Stay on top of that by reading motivational books or listening to audiobooks.  Continue to research and read about successful people in your field.

24.  Expect setbacks.  Count on setbacks happening several times during the process of putting your passion to work.  The path isn’t linear.  You will have bumps in the road.  If you accept that from the get-go, it won’t be a surprise when it happens.

25.  Take daily action.  Thinking, planning, fretting, and pontificating only go so far.  Only daily, focused action will move you forward.  If you don’t know what to do, just do something.

26.  Enjoy yourself!  You are working toward something amazing — the life you are creating.  This is your heart’s desire, and although you haven’t reached it yet, every action you take is carrying you closer.  Relish each and every action, because the process can be just as exciting as the end result.

Final Thoughts

Remember, uncovering your passion and making it real in your life is a process.  Continue to take daily action toward your dream, refining and shifting as you learn more about yourself and deal with the natural challenges that are inherent in any life change.  Keep your vision of a passionate life in the forefront of your mind, and before you know it, you will wake up one day and realize your are living your dream.

Your turn…

What life passion do you dream about?  What do you want to spend more time doing with your life?  Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Author Bio:  Barrie Davenport is a life passion coach and founder of BarrieDavenport.com, a site devoted to helping people uncover and live their life passions.  Download her free guide, The Passion Myths: 6 Lies Keeping You from Uncovering Your Life Passion.

Photo by: Elenapaint

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42 Comments

  • I found this to be a very helpful post. I have a general idea of my goals but planning it out like this will definitely help in achieving them. Thank you :)

  • Interesting article, Barrie. Living the life you want is indeed a process filled with many steps. I’m currently on vacation right now and I’m struggling to find a balance between following the steps and relaxing when I’m not supposed to be on work mode.

  • A very practical article. I like how you broke this substantial process of finding and following a passion into logical, actionable steps.

    As for me, I’m looking to spend more time pursuing music as a side project. I used to play for a living when I was young, and I’ve been seriously considering joining a local (amateur) symphony. This post really motives me. Thanks.

  • Most of the successful folks have discovered their passion and reached their goals. The aspiring ones, who have discovered their passion, are working towards them. The ones who failed in the pursuit, usually shy away from such discussion.

    My current passions is running. I like to do it. I like to think, write and talk about it. This keeps me happy, contented and grounded.

    Then there are a many who keep trying to discover what their passion really is. What makes them really happy? What is it that they would do for free which would add value to others to the society?

    Thanks for providing a framework which can be used to find and pursue one’s passion.

  • Right now my passion is freelance blogging.

    I’ve made great strides with it these last several months and I can attribute that progress to tips #17 and #25. That action, that consistency, they made all the difference in where I am now.

    It’s taught me that fortune definitely favors the bold (and consistent).

  • Thank you so much, Marc and Angel (and Barrie), for your posts. I truly enjoy reading them. Always a great inspiration. Thank you!

  • Dear everybody,

    I would add: listen to your heart! What keeps coming up, that little feeling, that feeling that makes your heart skip a beat and smile. That’s telling you to follow your dreams and put you on your path every time you wander off :)
    That helps me a lot to stay on track and work towards my passions.

    Last year I quit my job, moved to another country and started to study on university again - theater studies to do dramaturgy. I work in a little restaurant in the weekends and make half the money I used to but I love it. It’s really hard work but so worth it to get me where I want to be.

    Let go of your fears because even if it doesn’t work out the way you planned in the beginning you always end up learning so much and you can always start again! What’s the worst that can happen?! Good luck :)

  • Thank you so much for this post. Such a great inspiration. :)

  • I really love this article! I have always wanted to be a landscape designer because I love art and big spaces and gardening. But I have never pursued my passion before because I always thought it would be a waste of my teaching degree - I’m currently a primary school teacher. I think I’m going to try and achieve my goal of being a landscape designer! :) Thank you so much Marc and Angel

  • Thanks a lot for this! I think everyone has the right to live fully, follow their dreams and be happy. Way too many people are too scared to do that, and that’s a shame! You guys are amazing and reading your blog in the morning really gives me that motivation and energy for the day, I really appreciate that. Perhaps I’ll be strong enough to follow my dreams one day.

  • I have been following this blog for roundabout 18 months. I went through a tough time, confused about life, love and the future.

    I have never commented but was grateful everytime I was done reading and re-reading it. So, long time reader, first time poster.

    Somehow whenever I needed some motivation, answers or the right questions the most I got a notification of a new post.

    Everytime it was relevant to my current situation - and as I have embraced my transition into creating something this post today, as usual was mind blowing and what one needs in day.

    There is a personal quote I live by which I was introduced by a friend of mine “everyday is a good day”.

    Thank you for these heart warming and heart soothing yet motivating constant posts.

    They have changed my life :)

  • Very inspiring and helpful.

    Thank you!

  • Thank you - wonderful advice!

  • Thank you Lord. Thank you Marc and Angel and Barrie.

    Now I begin my day.

  • A great way to find your passions is with the best selling book StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. It has been on the NY Times best sellers for six years and it has an online text you can take by getting a code when you buy the book.

    The book will help you identify your five biggest passions in life and then you only have to read those five chapters. The whole gist is doing what your passionate about in life and delegating or not doing everything else. Not what your parents thought you’d be good at or not listening to others that say you can’t do this or that but truly following your passions, dreams, etc. It worked for me!

  • I was passionate about many things when I was younger, but somehow lost it along the way as I became busy taking care of all the usual struggles of life. I will be retiring in 2 years now, and look forward to that, but then again I need something to do when that day arrives. Fear is the thing that holds me back the most. If I can find a way to overcome fear, I believe I have a very bright future ahead. I am going to make use of this article to help me start building a plan to get my passion back! Thank you.

  • My goal by the end of 2013 is to create location independent income allowing me to travel and still earn a living. I’ll to earn enough money to maintain a home base in Oregon where my adult children and dearest friends live. I will house sit internationally, experiencing the world and people, filling my life with new experiences AND spending time with those I’ve always loved and who have always loved me.

    I feel so clear about this vision! I haven’t worked out the “how” exactly, but I feel confident it will fall into place. SO excited!! To kick it off, I recently went to Spain for two weeks (solo) and confirmed what I already knew; that I am in love with travel.

    Your posts should be a guide book for life. I forward many to my 21 and 19 year old children. I hope they pay attention. I could have used your wisdom when I was their age. Thank you for your clarity!

    Love and hugs…

  • Thanks, the post is a source of motivation to me. I’m planning on taking Oracle Associate Certification exams maybe in August of this year. For now, I’m a 2nd year college student. I think the best part of this article for me was on finance section - at least I got a hint on how I’ll balance my tuition fees and save for the certification exams. I’m crazily in love with databases but I’m also a young entrepreneur, so I wanna maintain the balance on improving my technical skills and getting some projects done. Thanks again for the helpful, practical tips.

  • Wow! What a great approach and necessary self-reflection even for those who are happily involved their current jobs or passions. We should try to do this once every 1-2 years, to see how you have changed, developed, etc. It is sort of like a long term road map for your personal development.

  • I really enjoyed the practicalness off this post! Currently my passion is blogging and I am trying to practice step 19 of setting up a calendar. I want to get as organized as I can so I am prepared and ready for anything. Thanks for sharing.

    Luke

  • I have followed your blog for over a year now and really love it.

    Two years ago I was with my beloved Mother till her last breath as she died a slow miserable death to pancreatic cancer, which has now completely changed my entire view of life, work and my relationships forever. I have been a wanderer my entire life and still am to some degree. I have never desired what most people strive for except to own a Porsche which I bought myself 25 years ago it was fun for awhile. I still drive it, now it’s just a way to get from one place to another. I started working and making money at ten years old and at 53 I am tired. I have worked pretty much entry level jobs my entire life, as I moved around. My passion used to be writing and illustration, I have written three children books and just can’t seem to get the last illustrations completed. My marriage is over yet I am too tired to leave. We sold our huge house and are now living in a rented room in an insane woman’s house. In the move most of my possessions got stolen. While I was in Hawaii caring for my Mother and step father for two years after my mothers death I used to sit on Little Beach in Waikiki and was completely happy at just sitting there staring at the ocean for hours. I now just want to be alone and live in a VW van and work a dinky job. I no longer want to create, or produce. I just want to be left alone. Nothing except the sun and ocean make me feel a little happy.

    What do you do when you are just tired and done? I have been on a very serious Spiritual Journey for many years, attuned to Reiki 3, and meditate and read daily on Spiritual Growth, yet still I am dead inside.

  • Thank you.

  • A game changer… Thank you.

  • @Suzanne, most of your life you have not connected to people. Even though you have done spiritual work, you are human. Get a friend. People are wired to live connected. While nobody is as sacred and pure as the sun and the ocean, maybe you can connect to somebody who can find happiness by the sun and ocean together with you. DW

    Thank you Marc, Angel and Barrie for this great post.

  • I would like to do something that adds to the world’s happiness or well being. At this point, I’m not clear as to what it could be. But this article exactly defines my situation right now! Excellent… I honestly just loved this post.

  • I know my problem is the people around me. That’s what’s standing in my way…

  • I agree with all of this, but I also think it is much easier if you first stop to understand what you are really good at. You wrote in another post about the need to become expert in certain things, I think you should be an expert in being YOU, first.
    How do you ofer value to people in your life? What is your unique contribution? In your vision, how do you help improve the world around you?

    If you become an expert in this, much of what you wrote about in this post will be much easier.

    My coach just published a book about this, if you are interested. It is on Amazon - Your Personal Superpower - The Secret to Lasting Success in Everything You Do. He helped me find my Superpower. I used to think that I am a gardener. Now I know that I am more of a practical artist. It changed my vision and my understanding of what I want from life and how to get it.

  • Love this article. I am in the middle of doing this very process. I bought the 52 week passion project series and will start that in June. My intention is too make my passion a paying hobby, and grow it till it replaces my current income. 3 years, 5 years whatever. I am a big fan of Strengths Finder as well - it’s what got me started.

  • I recommend Barrie’s book 52 Week Life Passion Project! It is simple to follow and she asks the best questions to really get you thinking about yourself. You just have to be willing to take the time to answer, for me it’s about 20 minutes a week. Can’t wait to reach week 52 :)

  • Hello Suzanne,

    I read your post twice. I am able to find many similarities with you: eg I too have been a wanderer most of my life; and I too have pursued spiritual growth; and I have mostly done clerical work.

    Presently I am studying the Holy Quran. I try to find answers / hints to what I ought to do with my life.

  • What a great post! I love all of the steps that you lay out here. It takes a lot of work to create a fulfilling life, but it’s so worth it. I like to call it a “vibrant” life - a life filled with clarity, confidence, happiness and just a certain light. These are some great steps to reach that type of life. I do think it’s important for people to realize that they don’t have to change anything in order to love their life - they just have to make a conscious decision that they love it. In the end, there are many changes we can make to our life, but no matter how much it gets better, we may never “love” it. Love is not something that is achieved externally, it is an action that comes from inside. You have to decide to love your life first. Then you can start changing it.

  • Hi All,
    I have been on vacation over the Memorial Day Weekend and haven’t been able to reply to all of your lovely and thoughtful comments. I am so thrilled and honored to be a guest writer for Marc and Angel and so happy that you all are pursuing your passions and that you found my article useful. Thank you so much for giving me a glimpse into your hearts and minds. What a wonderful community of people here at M & A!!!

  • I have not been as prescriptive as the article suggests –preparation, finances, research, and transition. I ebb and flow in between all of these. I have a great paying career right now and am edging into something new. Sold a 4,000 sq. ft. house to rent a small 2 bed flat, saving money, getting a second MS degree in my dream field … slow and steady. I am so inspired by all of your posts. The article is amazing and I think it will allow me to get more focused and push through in a more thoughtful way. Thank you!

  • Very inspiring. What puts it all together is continous personal growth and development, always learning, always growing, always doing something new - going places you have never been before, doing things you have never done before, because you have become who you have never been before

    @Suzanne, don’t give up. Stop thinking about yourself and your past, and think of what you can give to make the world a better place. Start giving of yourself and the joy of living will flood back. By the way, one my childhood dreams was to sit on the Waikiki beach and watch the sun go down over the ocean. I am keeping the appointment with that dream next year

  • I have been studying this topic for more than 20 years - I have read hundreds of books - listened to hours and hours of audio - attended many conferences — this is an absolutely superb list — very, very well done!

  • I’ve always wanted to be a singer, but I gave it up so long ago for a normal living and while I like what I do it is still only a job to me. I know what stops me is fear, fear of failing and then not having a way to take care of my family. I’ve just read your article 5 Ways to Step Forward When You’re Scared to Death so I think that I may start looking at my dreams again. Thank you Marc and Angel for always seeming to have the perfect things to say to me when I need them the most.

  • I am passionate with only one thing - finding and then fulfilling my purpose. The hardest part is figuring it out and feeling the “calling”. It may be one or even more than two, we don’t know. So I put my passion down one notch by choosing to live each day as it is. But this really could be a better way of finding it. Good categorization. It depicts of what you can do now while mindful of the future. Learned a lot in this post.

  • Great practical article, thanks! Being daring and moving ahead despite fear and without ‘evidence’ to support your decisions has also been really important for me, not looking for the world to constantly validate your own path or your own passion. Got to trust to that inner knowing, that intuition which wants you to keep going! Bernadette :)

  • Thank you so much for your wonderful page. It is so inspiring on many levels. This is what I really needed as I am trying to redirect my path for a better journey.

  • Hey Marc and Angel.
    This was an excellent article and very useful. I have been destroying my personal goals these days (lost 100lbs, paid off car and credit cards, and wrote a novel). I am now at the stage where I will be switching up my career and living my dream lifestyle. So I certainly appreciate your advice.

    Right now I am in the research phase, I am looking for people who have made the transition and are living unorthodox lifestyles. I am trying to either meet up with or skype with these type of people to pick their brains. Would you guys be willing to have a short conversation with my wife and I?

    Thanks so much,

    Ric Rags

  • A great post which is very inspiring. Tells you how to chase your passion, which i’m doing!

  • This was a great read. I’m 7 months into a new business and I’ve been going through most of these steps without having read them. I get to spend more time appreciating that each day of hustling gets me closer to the dream life. I feel very peaceful.

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