Do What You Love: Blending Passion With Purpose

So Adventure Women, would you say that you’ve met the challenge of having your ‘best year yet’?

It’s no secret that a purpose-driven life will lead you to experience success in all its forms (including traveling to all those places on your bucket list, of course). Do what you love, love what you do, right? But how do you get started redirecting your many talents in this direction?

At AdventureWomen, we always want to encourage women to let go of old regrets and create our futures whether by changing careers, rebuilding from loss, or reconnecting with entrepreneurial ideas that can lead to new directions. Most importantly, we want all Adventure Women to feel at the top of their game and do good in the world, helping others in whatever ways are most meaningful to them.

As women research and discuss this subject, the construct of success expands from finance and career to one embracing aspects of connectedness. The conversation goes from wealth to well-being, finding new purpose, and trying new ways to inspire others.

Here are three women’s voices we want to highlight on the subject of blending “passion with purpose”:

Author, researcher, and Ted Talk presenter, Emily Esfahani Smith says it well when she says “There’s more to life than being happy.”

Through five years of research and hundreds of interviews, Emily became keenly aware that in chasing happiness, too many people actually report finding themselves experiencing disappointment, emptiness, and loneliness. What was missing in so many of her subjects’ lives was meaning.

But what’s the difference between happiness and meaning? Emily quotes Martin Seligman, “Meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond yourself and from developing the best within you.” Happiness and satisfaction seem to spring from finding meaning in one’s life day-to-day.

Her research led her to define four pillars for a meaningful life: Belonging, Purpose, Transcendence, and Storytelling: 

  • Belonging: Where you are valued for who you are intrinsically but you also value others. She is not, however, referring to in-groups and out-groups. Smith reminds us that it’s a choice we cultivate when we lead with love.
  • Purpose: Using your strengths to serve others. Finding purpose is less about what you want and more about what you want to give. This is as true about being a better manager as it is about being a better volunteer, daughter, or friend.
  • Transcendence: Stepping beyond yourself – your sense of self falls away, you feel connected to a higher reality.
  • Storytelling: Your life is a story you tell yourself about yourself; but you are your own author. You can edit, rewrite, and retell it! She gave an example of a young man, paralyzed from football, who lived a withdrawn life until he found purpose, and in pursuing that, the story of his life was turned into one of strength, of pride in himself and his ability to help others.

Marian Write Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, was interviewed by TEDWomen curator Pat Michell and recalls that her parents raised her to believe her purpose was to serve. Her parents raised 12 foster children as well as their own.

One of her earlier memories of disparity and drive to help protect children included learning of an impoverished 11-year old black neighbor who died in the hospital from lack of tetanus vaccine. There were, of course, countless other stories to fuel her passion for leadership in caring. Her father, for example, found an elder of color with dementia wandering around and that sparked his inspiration to start an old person’s home to care for elders of color, recruiting all of his children to help with day to day operations such as cooking and cleaning. As a child, Marian would also take subtle actions to challenge the Jim Crow status quo – quipping that after she was reprimanded for drinking at the whites-only water fountain in school, she started switching out the water cooler signs. She was already a change-maker in elementary school.

Anyone who’s walked the path of leading with passion will say the road is long and sometimes difficult. However, she defined her future through service to children’s health and well being, and remains as the figurehead of the Children’s Defense Fund today, 46 years later. “If you see a need, don’t ask why. If someone doesn’t do it, do it yourself.” Marian Edelman is an immensely inspiring figure who embodies the idea that committing to something larger than yourself and doing it with conviction can lead to a life of deep meaning and positive impact on the lives of others, especially our future generations.

Facebook designer and blogger Julie Zhuo answers one question a week on her blog: The Year of the Looking Glass. In June 2017, a millennial who often feels “unsettled and dissatisfied” asked how an individual might define career success and what steps s/he could take to remain ambitious, content, and happy. Julie’s reply? S.M.A.R.T. goals with plenty of sound, proven career advice, SMART goals being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. But Julie also reminds us that doing social good contributes to a sense of purpose and well-being, and definitely encourages her readers to build strong relationships outside of the workday.

So. Adventure Women, the big question is this: What do you love to do, that will sustain you, and create a more meaningful tomorrow for YOU? Share your thoughts! Connect with us via social or drop us a line at [email protected].

AdventureWomen is delighted to share these resources with you:

  • Hear Emily Esfanahi Smith’s inpiring Ted Talk:
  • Ms. Edelman’s interview may be found here:
  • Insightful advice from Julie Zhuo: