Recently, a client I’ve been working with for a while asked me the following question:

“How do I find my passion?”

He’s been struggling for a while with this question. Other questions he’s asked recently are:

  • How do I figure out my skills?
  • How do I know what I’m supposed to do?
  • What should I do with the rest of my life?

My answer to all these questions is the same: I don’t think the problem is figuring out what we should do—I think the problem is giving ourselves permission to do the things we really want to do.

When I was about 35 (and working full-time as a family medicine doctor), I did an exercise with Martha Beck called The Ideal Day. It’s a visualization exercise where she  walks you through a normal day in your ideal life 5 years in the future.

During that visualization, I pictured myself working from home with some kind of clients (who didn’t appear to be patients) in the morning while my husband took care of our child (blonde, not clear what gender) and then we all took a bike ride together after lunch and I went back to my home office, this time to write.

There were many more details that I can still recall vividly—even though I made it all up.

After the visualization exercise, Martha asked me why I was crying. When I could speak, all I said was, “It’s impossible.”

Today, I know that none of my dreams or longings are impossible. In order to get here, to this place in my life, I had to let go of a lot of limiting beliefs. Here are a few that I have struggled with:

  • I have to do what I trained to do.
  • Useful people don’t sit in a chair and write all day.
  • Everyone will hate me if I change.
  • I have to stay in this job until I’m out of debt of dead.
  • I have nothing to say as a writer.
  • I’m not a good enough writer.
  • I’m not allowed to do what I want.
  • I’m lucky to have a great job, I have to hold on to it.
  • People in my family never quit.

While this is not an exhaustive list (I could go on—and on), these are some of the biggest lies I told myself over and over in order to stay stuck.

Consciously questioning those beliefs and letting them go has been my work for the last 10 years.

Sometimes we are so stuck we don’t think we know what we really want to do or be in the world. But each time we discard a limiting belief, we get closer to uncovering a dream, a passion, and a purpose we didn’t realize we had, or more likely, we didn’t believe was possible.

What do you really want?

What beliefs are you ready to let go of in order to move toward what you really want?