“Comparison is a waste of energy. Every individual is unique with unique talents. Find your passion and live your best life.” ~Lailah Gifty Akita
We hear people using the term “Adulting” a lot lately, and we get it. Being a grown-up can be tedious and stressful. Daily tasks can get mundane.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the grind that we find ourselves longing for the days of childhood—when everything we saw was new and exciting and we were filled with wonder. As we got older we questioned if it was possible to capture that feeling again. At times, we honestly didn’t think so.
We have never been ones to shy away from following our dreams. Right out of school Amy left our family in Boston, Massachusetts, to chase the Hollywood dream, and she got it. She worked her way up the proverbial ladder to be the first woman in the history of the entertainment industry to be Vice President of Visual Effects and Post Production at a major studio. She worked on movies like Harry Potter and The Matrix.
While she was burning the midnight oil in beautiful downtown Burbank, Nancy was running her own graphic design business and opening a theater back in Boston. Eventually, Nancy packed up the truck and also moved to Beverly Hills—okay, Burbank, but close enough. She worked for a few years in the glamorous world of Academy Award advertising campaigns for production companies like Miramax.
We both burned fast and bright—and we burned out. We decided to take a new path together and start our own company. We’ve spent the last year interviewing women who are following their passions. It has been invigorating and we feel that childhood excitement all over again.
Hearing about the journeys these women have taken to pursue their dreams has inspired us to look at the world a little differently—to have more fun, be more curious, and experience wonder.
We’ve spoken to artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, activists, and nuns. As diverse as these women are, we have seen some common threads that have revealed the following secrets to living a passion-fueled life.
SECRET #1: Following your passions is easier when you have a buddy.
When we both left the studio world to strike out on our own, we knew we had each other’s backs. If you don’t have a partner, find a community that can support you.
The girls of our generation were taught to be competitive because opportunities for women were few and far between. But the older and more confident we got, the more we chose to surround ourselves with women who supported each other rather than pushed each other aside.
Shaz Bennett is a director on “Queen Sugar” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, where showrunner Ava Duvernay has taken the stance to hire only female directors.
Shaz summed up Ava’s philosophy, “We’ve always been fighting for the one seat at the table. But just move over a little bit. There’s space for all of us. There’s nobody trying to take your job. There’s room for everybody.”
In order to follow our passions, we need to lift each other up. Together we are unstoppable.
SECRET #2: Make life an adventure.
We’ve always been pretty reserved people. We’re not really into weird food or extreme sports. So, the word “adventure” never really sat well with us.
But Stacey Newman Weldon, owner of the company Adventure Wednesdays, taught us that you don’t need to bungee jump or sleep in a yurt to have an adventure. Discoveries can be made right in your back yard.
So now we stop at that little cafe we’ve always been meaning to try. We buy that odd-shaped fruit in the market just to see what it tastes like. We say “yes” when a friend invites us out to a movie we hadn’t planned to see. Take the baby steps of mini-adventures.
Stacey started her business after breaking out of her own rut. She told us, “I didn’t really know for sure what I like to do. So, that was the start of my journey. Just trying to find out what was fun for me and then it expanded from there.”
SECRET #3: Be curious.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it gives passions life. Looking for answers always takes us on a journey to somewhere we never expected.
We admit it. We are self-proclaimed Google-addicts. At least a few times a day, someone says something that we don’t know the answer to and we Google it. We never want to stop learning. And we find every experience we have is enriched when we take the time to stop and ask questions of the people we meet.
We connected over the concept of curiosity when we spoke with Jess Phoenix, a volcano scientist and founder of BluePrint Earth.
“I just want to see people being curious about the world around them,” she stated, “because that is actually how we accomplish great things—through asking questions and being curious.”
SECRET #4: Create experiences.
For some people, like artists or writers, following your passion is a solitary endeavor. For others it’s a collaborative effort. But whether you work alone or have a company with hundreds of employees, at the end of the day, people who lead passion-filled lives care about community.
Sashee Chandran, founder of Tea Drops, created a successful company based on her love of the soothing beverage.
She said. “The more I engaged in drinking tea, what I really fell in love with was the experience that tea creates. For me, tea is a bridge, a vehicle to conversation and getting to know people better. So I feel passionate about tea but behind that, I’m passionate about creating experiences.”
SECRET #5: Be courageous.
Following your passions is not for the faint of heart. There are obstacles along the way and challenges at every turn. Finding the courage to let go of old behaviors and break down barriers is one of the biggest reasons many people get stuck in life and let their passions fall by the wayside.
Living a passion-filled life means being vulnerable, facing failure and believing in yourself. Tess Cacciatore, the owner of Global Women’s Empowerment Network and author of Homeless to the White House, works to empower people to live to their highest potential.
“I’m hoping to be able to inspire self-love,” she said. “I think once we have that self-love, we’re going to make better decisions about who we bring into our life and will bring better awareness of what’s happening around us and hopefully do better in our lives.”
So summon your courage, reach out to your community, find your spirit of adventure, open your mind to a world of curiosity, and create experiences you will never forget. You’ll be on your way to the passion-filled life you long for and you just might recapture that sense of childhood wonder.
About Amy and Nancy Harrington
Amy and Nancy Harrington have been inspired by the revived women’s movement and use their skills as celebrity interviewers to talk to women who are making a difference by following their passions. From the founder of homeless charity to an artist who makes sculptures using melted down weapons, they shine a light on the positive stories of women on The Passionistas Project Podcast.