How to Find Your Passion To Unleash Your Creativity

Work + Money

Betsy Werley 200x250
Betsy Werley, Executive Director, The Transition Network

By Betsy Werley

Passion is on center stage in the 21st century.  Why?  Because passion is the key ingredient of a satisfying life. It’s the starting point for career discussions, and is so popular that Amazon offers over 500 books about combining work and passion.

Passion is energizing and will unleash your creativity, helping you achieve things you thought were impossible.  It gets you out of bed in the morning.  As a kid, I couldn’t sell a box of Girl Scout cookies to save my life…but as Executive Director of The Transition Network, an organization that I’m passionate about, I happily asked dozens of people, “Do you know of any free office space in New York City?”

When I grew up in the 1970s, passion was the subject of teenage dreams and mid-life crises, not everyday life.   Fast-forward to today. The boundaries of work and life are blurring, and we naturally want to bring inspiration into both parts of our lives.  Boomers and pre-Boomers are also thinking about their legacies – which definitely requires passion.  We’re drawn to passionate people because they are so interesting, whether they’re 25 or 75.  Age doesn’t matter.

The sooner you tap into your passions, the more they have a positive influence on your life.  In a world where we’ll be working for at least 40 years, your passion can start as a sideline and become a fulltime job or business in later years.

So, how do you get started?  First, take your pulse on the passion meter:

  • If you know what lights you up – congratulations!  You’re ready to move to the next level. 
  • If your passion is a buried treasure – start digging!  Devote a few hours to reconnecting with your inner child.  What did you love to do when no one was telling you to do it?  Music, pets, helping older people…Ask friends and family to tell you what they see. 
  • If you have a passion deficit – get going and be strategic!  Pick two things you think you’re interested in and try them.  Join the board of a nonprofit…help a friend with a startup business…take a class in a new subject.  Herminia Ibarra’s Working Identity offers stories and steps for that journey. 

Once you’ve tapped into your passion, you can bring it into your life in two ways:

Front and center: Go after the paying job you really want.  Divinity schools are full of career changers following a call to serve others.  Transition programs for would-be teachers are booming.

Part of the mix: Volunteer – that’s how I got started.  During my law/corporate career, I made a strategic decision to join the board of a women’s networking organization, and became its President.  That “off the job training” made me realize that I wanted to work fulltime on women’s issues – and gave me the experience to get hired.   Marc Freedman’s Encore – Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life and the website are excellent resources for those who want to work in nonprofits or government.

Moonlight  – the path chosen by my friend Joan Cukous.  Joan got hooked on artisanal chocolate during her days as a banker.  She took courses, experimented in her tiny kitchen, and after several years launched Chocolate Moderne, now a thriving business.  She was practical enough to keep her day job until she laid the foundation for her second act.  Marci Alboher’s One Person, Multiple Careers describes this new concept of “slash” careers, each feeding the other: jazz musician/computer consultant; psychotherapist/violin maker.

Feed your passion to achieve true happiness and harmony in your life.  Passion is the ultimate renewable resource.  Invest in finding YOUR passion, anchor it in your life and let it take you places you never dreamed you’d go.

Betsy Werley is Executive Director of The Transition Network, a nonprofit for women over 50 exploring what’s next in their professional and personal lives (  TTN’s  “Smart Women Don’t Retire – They Break Free” shares member stories and resources on making the transition from working fulltime to living fulltime.  Betsy spent 26 years working at jobs she wasn’t passionate about before joining TTN five years ago.  She freely confesses to loving her job.

Read: A Guide to Finding Your Passion

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  • Keep Passing It Forward

    Posted by Arlan, 20 November 2010.

  • great post! thanks

    Posted by FourthDecade, 16 November 2010.