My painting was bad…really bad. When I first sat down to try my hand at painting, I was excited. Could I be the next Jasper Johns? Was I a Claude Monet in the making? I soon discovered that sadly, I am not.
Even though my painting of a landscape was decidedly amateurish, I still showed it to friends and family. Some giggled. Some looked at it quizzically. All however, maintained their composure and said things like “it’s good, I like it!” All tried to point out something good about my efforts, which did make me feel better. But alas, deep down, I knew that I would need a lot more practice…an awful lot.
I’m thankful though, that no one I showed my painting to took the direct approach and said “you should find another hobby….” When it comes to our dreams, sometimes the word “should,” can be a real blow to our hope and our ego.
Finding a Passion
I decided I wanted to try painting because quite honestly, I was starting to feel bored and felt that my life was getting stale. I needed something to do — something creative that would stimulate my mind and give me something to focus on. I’ve always had a passion for painting and figured it would be an ideal hobby, since I greatly admire artistically gifted people — those talented folks who can paint a beautiful picture with seemingly little effort, or those people who can take some wood and craft a beautiful coffee table without breaking a sweat. Well, looking at my first effort, I kind of told myself that artistic talent was just not my thing.
Or is it?
After looking at my painting for a few days, I thought to myself “Wait a minute! No one said you had to come out of the gate painting like a Paul Gauguin. No one but me is telling me to give up.” And that is a very important lesson here: We don’t have to be perfect. Our passions can stay as strong as ever, even if what we create or do isn’t flawless. If painting gives me joy, who cares what anyone thinks about the end result? Will it lead to a career for me? No. However, painting in my spare time invigorates me and that passion helps to keeps me motivated.
This experience has reminded me of the importance of finding that sweet spot in our life. It helped me to realize that the problem wasn’t that I was bored or felt unchallenged — the problem was that I had forgotten to focus in on the sweet spot in my life.
What is a sweet spot?
In essence, a sweet spot is finding that convergence of passion and talent with the things you’re naturally drawn to. Think of it as that splendid place where the things you love to do (your passions and talents), puts you into the ideal career or, helps to create a happy and contented life for yourself.
Each person’s sweet spot is unique and therefore, very special. I have a friend who is an immensely talented writer and she has always loved reading books, writing short stories, poems, etc. Words flow from her with ease and you can see the sparkle in her eyes when she’s writing. She has turned this gift and passion into an impressive career and has not only written books, but her stories are regularly featured by some of the most renowned publications in the world. Happily, she’s doing what she loves, getting well paid for it and as if that weren’t enough, she’s using her sweet spot to help others too. My friend spends some of her free time teaching at a community center and helps the less fortunate to master the spoken and written word. Pretty cool, right?
How Does One Find that Sweet Spot?
Since that sweet spot is unique to each person, it will be different for all of us. Some are lucky enough to know early on what their sweet spot is, but for most people, it’s a process — a discovery if you will.
If you’re wondering what your sweet spot in life may be, here are a few pointers to help you discover it:
1. Identify Your Passion
When it comes to “passion” in life, we need to remember that a true passion isn’t just a one-off — it’s not something you do only once and then move on. True passion that fuels our sweet spot in life is something that is within us, but needs development. It’s not usually a “Eureka!” type moment, but is more a deep look inward to discover what makes us come alive.
- Get rid of a restrictive mind-set. Believe that you can do what you love with your life.
- Brainstorm and write it down! What do you love doing? What makes you come alive?
- What do other people say you’re good at or have talent doing?
- Surround yourself with others who are doing what it is you think you want to do
2. Don’t Be Self-restrictive
Don’t worry that what you love doing isn’t good enough or even valued. Any passion or gift can be used in a positive way, so focus more on determining your passion(s) and not on any limiting thoughts.
3. Clean It Up
Once you’ve brainstormed about all the things you love to do, you do need to make that list of the things you don’t like to do. It’s better to know up front what you don’t want to do, rather than wading into a career or hobby and finding out that those things are preventing you from really living in your sweet spot.
4. Take Action
Once we consciously identify our passion(s) and we visualize what our life would be like if we we’re just_____________, then it’s time to take steps to move forward:
- Research to see what others who share the same passion are doing. How did they do it? What is their advice?
- What steps do you need to take to be able to live your dream?
- What resources are there to help you?
If our passion leads to a career, great. However, I do think it’s important that we accept that our passion may not end up being our career. If that’s the case however, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I’m reminded of a conversation I had recently while touring one of those magnificent Gilded Age mansions. I had the opportunity to speak to the Curator of the house, (which is classified as an historical museum) and he told me he had wanted to be an Architect, but sadly, didn’t have the needed skills. Rather than let that deter him, he studied history, which was another of his passions and now, he is an expert on these magnificent homes and is in charge of one of them! He also regularly gives lectures on these houses, so, he may not be an Architect, but he’s still deeply involved with Architecture. How cool is that?
Finding our sweet spot in life needs to come from within. While others can help draw it out, only we can truly say what our personal passions are. It’s not an easy “process,” but it is a vital one. Be prepared for some frustration and maybe even setbacks, but most of all, be passionate about it because to find our passion and sweet spot in life, we need to be fully committed to the process.
“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” —Bishop T.D. Jakes