As a result of my recent time in the wilderness, a few people following my blog have reached out to me to ask my advise. These individuals shall, of course, remain confidential. Based on my writings, they have seen some of the clarity and realizations I have reached. They are hungry to reignite their own passions in life, or find their way again.
I spent some time pondering this very issue myself. In one of my encounters on the trail, I ran across a gentleman in his mid 30 named Haiku. He spent a good amount of time in his 20’s and early 30s building a tech company. He poured his heart and soul into the company, often working 18 hour days, 6 to 7 days a week. As a result of his dedication, his marriage ended abruptly in divorce, and his social life was non-existent. After spending 8 years, engulfed in his work he reached the inevitable point of burnout.
In doing a life inventory, he found his social life was non-existent, his love life in shambles, and his work life, which had fueled him for so long, he now no longer found fulfilling. He sought out a drastic change. In 2013 he separated from his company leaving it to his business partners, and started out on the Appalachian trail. As he lamented to me, his mentality when starting out on the AT was, “I am going to complete this regardless of the consequences.”
From the sharpness of his stare when he made that statement, you could tell he was reliving the moment. From what I gathered, “regardless of the consequences”, included dying. He completed the trail and had found peace. While hiking the AT, he decided he also wanted to complete the PCT, but considering he completed the AT in late 2013 there really wasn’t time to thoroughly plan for the PCT. So he put it off until 2015. Which is where I had the good fortune of meeting him and sharing a day of conversation with him.
Over the course of the day, I learned his next career path is one of becoming a counselor. He wants to go back to school and receive his credentials, and then take clients and or groups into the back country for a little nature therapy. I told my story of having unwound several years worth of stress anxiety bitter and jadedness. He was elated at my story, as it was basically proof of concept for what he wanted to do. The only difference, my therapy was self guided.
With the permission of the person whom asked I will share the story of one of my friends. One of the friends who confided in me he had lost his passion has a somewhat similar story. His story does not read quite as extreme. He has always been one to maintain his social circle, but never found himself romantically fulfilled. He would often state he was married to his work.
Over the years, his career has evolved and devolved in certain ways. Recently he moved back to San Diego, reversing a decision he had made several years before to relocate. He had assumed his social life would go back to the “way it was” when he previously called San Diego home. When he left the company he was working for, his work had become less fulfilling and reward, but more demanding. He no longer had the passion to pour as much time and effort into it without the reward.
Today, he finds himself in a similar career, working less hours, and occasionally too few hours, causing some financial stress. When he returned to San Diego, he found the relationships he had left were different, or had evaporated altogether. And now that he is no longer married to his work, he finds the lack of any romantic involvement unsatisfying. His message to me, “My fire has dimmed, and I need to figure out how to reignite my passions.”
My advise to anyone who might be struggling with the questions, “what’s next?” or “I’ve lost my passion.” Or “I’m simply lost.” is simple. Go for a month long hike! Just kidding. While it has proved invaluable to me, it’s neither feasible, nor interesting to everyone. No, the advise I would offer is different from simply going for a hike. It does however contain the same elements.
The advise I would give is this, find something beyond your comfortable level, or outside your realm of normality and go do it. You need to at least find it moderately interesting, and you should do it alone (meaning without your current friends or family members) It doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to make a ton of changes to your life. You don’t have to devote huge amounts of time to it, but go do something different.
There are about a million different things you could do, but here is a short list of things to give ideas
- Take a cooking class
- Join an intramural sports team
- Join a book club
- Volunteer at a local organization (Hospice, big brothers/sisters, LGBT center, etc etc)
- Take an art class
- Take up running
- Go for a Hike! (sorry couldn’t resist)
- Take a yoga class
Stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new does numerous things.
Doing it alone, allows you to escape the patterns you are currently in, and removes the influence of friends or family. Even with the best intentions, they may sway your beliefs about something before you even start. It will also give you “alone” time even if its with a group of other people.
With it being something new, there will be a learning curve. I have found people generally enjoy learning new things. It gets their mind working, which has sometimes been long dormant with the patterns of every day life.
It will introduce you to new people, spawning new friendships and potential romantic relationships. The individuals you meet will automatically have something in common with you!
These are but a few of the benefits.
Often, those in a rut, or finding themselves unfulfilled with their current “life” don’t need such an extreme reboot as Haiku. We often dwell on what makes us unhappy, and expand it. If we directed even half this energy on a new project or pattern, our joy and fulfillment expands. We no longer find the job we have unbearable, because suddenly, that horrible job provides the means to participate in an endeavor we do find rewarding.
By no means am I saying you should stay in a job you hate, but you get the point.
As with all my writings, your mileage my vary.
I would love feedback if you find this useful. Feel free to email me directly if you like. firstname.lastname@example.org