Last week, I watched a movie that’s been on my Netflix queue for awhile called Searching for Debra Winger. It was written and directed by Rosanna Arquette. It’s a documentary that explores how female actresses over 40 years old can’t find good roles in Hollywood. It’s actually a lot deeper than that, but that’s the basic premise.

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the_artists_wayIn the amazing book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she discusses the concept that all of us have an “art” that runs deep within us yearning to break out. This art can literally be an artistic talent like painting, writing, or performing, but it could also be something else entirely. It can be connecting, teaching, being funny, etc. For some people, they find this art at a very young age, and they build a career and a life around it. For others, they may find this art, but decide not to do anything with it, or fight it tooth and nail. Some abandon it, never to let it come to the surface again. The people that bury their art often wind up being extremely unhappy in their careers and their lives. The ones that pursue it wholeheartedly are usually profoundly happy and feel they are living out their calling.

But is there an in between? I believe so. There are some people that do not pursue their art directly, but indirectly it becomes a part of their life or career. Cameron calls this being a shadow artist. For example, the class clown who decides not to pursue a career using humor directly as a stand-up comedian, but becomes a professional speaker whose humor is a big part of how he connects so deeply with his audiences. The painter or sculptor that decides that she doesn’t want to be a struggling artist trying to get her work into art galleries, but instead decides to become an art teacher and share her passion and talent with the next generation of artists. Or a dancer who decides to become a choreographer helping other dancers create art on stage. But beware — being a shadow artist can be a negative experience, as in the case of someone that is deeply resentful of not pursuing his or her art directly. The key is to make sure that your art indirectly manifests itself in your life or your career in a positive manner so that it still remains a part of your life, while not being resentful that you’re not pursuing it directly.

attorneyMany people struggle with having spent so much time training and preparing for their art, that they dig their heels in stubbornly refusing to abandon it, or incorporate it into their life in another way. I was once in this position. I convinced myself that I was an attorney at heart. I badly wanted to believe it, as I had invested so much time, money and energy training to become a lawyer. Much about that world was alluring. It was intellectual, paid extremely well, was high powered, and was well respected, while giving me the sense that I was helping others in a meaningful way. It was enticing the way a drug would be. Plus, I was really good at it. It took me almost a decade to understand that the law was not the right fit for me — or maybe not to understand it, but to accept it and move on. I realized that law was not my true art. Instead, my true art was to help, guide, teach, motivate and inspire others. Unfortunately, the way that my art manifested through my being an attorney was a huge disconnect. It was too negative, too stressful, and not as directly helpful as I had hoped it would be and wanted it to be. I had the right intentions but chose the wrong package to house them in. Once I realized this, I had to make a change. And I did. I now get to enjoy being a coach, consultant, speaker, and author using my true art in a way that feels positive, and is a perfect fit for me.

Having spent so much time navigating my own successful career transition and guiding others through theirs, I have found that there are 3 key steps to identifying your own art.

1) What did you want to be when you grew up? Not the specific answer… but the underlying impulse. What is the archetype that is deep within you? What is your true art? I wanted to be a stage actress, singer, and dancer. When I dug deep, it was more about the art and craft of performing, and connecting with the audience than being famous, so it was easy to make that a hobby, and incorporate some aspects of it into my work as a professional speaker. I wanted to teach the deaf as I was so inspired by Helen Keller and my deaf family members. I did teach and interpret for three years and it was a wonderful experience. The teacher archetype runs strong in me to this day and all of my work incorporates it.

snowboarder2) Pay attention to the work you gravitate to in your “day job,” as well as your volunteer activities. Often, it’s not the position, title, company, or anything official that shows us our true art, but the actual work. What work puts you in “flow” state? What gets you jazzed, taps into your passions, or is just plain fun or interesting to you?

3) Pay attention to what you envy. Jealousy may be an ugly emotion, but it often uncovers our true desires or tells the truth in some form. It may not be the exact thing you envy, but some version of it. When I first decided not to pursue Broadway as a career, it was often difficult for me at that time to go see a show. I realized I still had some envy around that choice and had to really examine whether I had made the right decisions with abandoning that dream. Over the years, it became clear that I could keep a foot in the theater world through performing in community and regional theater, and I would not be resentful, envious or jealous of those that had pursued this art directly and made it on Broadway. With this sense of peace and acceptance around my decision, I am able to fully enjoy theater as a participant, and as an audience member.

It’s obvious that people flourish when they’re engaged in occupations, roles or settings that are aligned with their personalities. But I think it goes deeper. Your true art doesn’t have to come out in the work you do at all. However, I believe it has to come out somehow. So if the work you do doesn’t allow you to integrate your art at all, make sure that you’re able to express your art in your personal life. Your art should strongly arouse your passions and provide a welcome place to express yourself. It should be like an emotional vacation. Think about what your art is, and then be sure that you integrate it into your life somehow. Because the last thing you want is to wake up one day and realize that you have been burying your art your entire life. That would be not only be a shame for you, but the world.

Interested in delving further on this issue, or other aspects of your life, career or business? I offer one-on-one private coaching/consulting, group coaching programs, corporate consulting and executive coaching, and speaking programs. Contact me so we can explore the possibility of working together!

I coined an interesting phrase recently when I was facilitating one of the teleclasses for my group coaching program, DECIDE to be Organized. I was speaking to the group about how so many high functioning, busy, successful men and women have all of these passions and get overwhelmed with trying to decide which to do and which to implement. I referred to the act of managing all of those passions as “Passion Management” (instead of Time Management, Project Management or Energy Management). Everyone loved the phrase and I realized I was onto something.

Passion Management acknowledges that we do, indeed, have multiple passions. I, for one, always refer to myself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur and person. Also, Passion Management is a much more positive way of describing our dilemma of what to do with all of these great ideas. Time management and project management are terms that are not only overused but, unfortunately, can be a negative reminder of our lack of time, as opposed to a motivating factor that leads to productivity.

Passion Management is the ability to manage all of the passions you want to tackle in business and life. Here are some tips to help guide your Passion Management.

Pick a Passion

Most multi-passionate people are swimming in a sea of great ideas, and often have the drive to make them happen. The conundrum is which passion to pursue. My advice — pick a passion and go for it! Author and life coach Cheryl Richardson talked about this when I heard her speak in NYC years ago. She said that so many of her clients get stuck because they have so many great ideas and passions, but don’t know which to pursue. So they wind up pursuing… yup, you guessed it — nothing. Don’t fall v ictim to passion confusion! It is better to pick a passion and allow it to blossom and flourish than to be trapped under a mountain of too many great ideas. If you pick a passion and it does not go well or does not take off the way you wanted it to, that’s okay. Regroup, learn from your passion exercise, and pick a new one.

Tap Into Your Passion

One of the best ways to determine what you should (and want to) focus on is to tap into your passion. Sometimes we lose focus with our business or personal projects and we need to take the time to remind ourselves what we value and why we are staying the course. It is all too easy to get bogged down in details and tasks. Try to ask yourself, “Why am I really doing this project?” and see if there is a reason that relates back to one of your passions, whether perso nal or professional. For example, maybe you are feeling the crunch of trying to blog several times a week. Ask yourself why you set this schedule and whether it taps into one of your passions. If your passion is to write, then write! Do you need to stay on a particular schedule? Will anyone, but you, notice if you only write when your passion strikes? Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure, or more likely, undue stress, when we remain too regimented. Yes, I am a professional organizer and see the value in systems, processes, and timelines, trust me. But it is vital to check in and ask yourself: “Is this tapping into my passion?” If so, it will help propel you forward and remind you why you are doing this particular task or project. If you realize this task or project does not tap into any of your passions, you may decide to abandon the project, delegate the task, or reevaluate whether you want and need to continue it.

Ignore the Naysayers

Often, you are making actual progress towards achieving your passions, but someone tries to sabotage you. Try not to let this derail your efforts! You need to stay the course, despite what they say. If you are truly passionate about the project, you will be able to withstand attacks. The famous life coach Martha Beck talks about surrounding yourself with people who can be your “believing eyes.” I love this idea! Adopt it and use it as your own. Stay away from the Negative Nellies, and surround yourself with people who believe in your passionate goals and will help you achieve them. Passion is contagious and can not only serve as strong motivation for you, but as inspiration for others. People notice passion. In fact, in my opinion, people often notice passion more than they notice productivity!

Celebrate Your Passion Successes

When we take on a project or task and successfully complete it, we often reward ourself at the c ompletion. But when we pursue a passion, we may not have any reward system built in. In some situations, it is hard to determine when we have “completed” a passion. Passions are often ongoing. They can be a particular way of approaching a topic, or a passion can be a mindset or belief. But it is important to come up with some way of rewarding your successes and milestones when pursuing your passions. Figure out ways to evaluate whether you have achieved a certain level of success for a particular passion. The more successful you feel at each step, the more apt you are to keep moving on the path towards achieving your passion goals. And most passionate people just want to keep the passion going! Copyright © 2011 Lisa Montanaro of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC.

Want to Use This Article in Your E-zine or Website?

You can, as long as you use this complete statement:

Copyright 2011. Lisa Montanaro, “The Solutions Expert,” is Principal of LM Organizing Solutions, LLC, a professional services firm created in 2002 that offers professional organizing, business and life coaching, and motivational speaking to individuals and organizations. Lisa publishes the monthly “DECIDE® to be Organized” e-zine for the general public, and “Next Level Business Success” e-zine for professional organizers and entrepreneurs. Subscribe today at www.LMOrganizingSolutions.com.  Lisa also publishes the DECIDE® to be Organized blog at www.DecideToBeOrganized.com. Through LMOS, Lisa helps people deal with the issues that block personal and professional change and growth. To explore how LMOS can improve your home or work environment, or help take your business to the next level, contact Lisa at (845) 988-0183 or by e-mail at Lisa@LMOrganizingSolutions.com.

Do you have more than one passion and get overwhelmed with trying to decide which to do and which to implement? If so, I invite you to join me as I speak tomorrow (Thursday) as part of the Fire Up Your Biz – Enrich Your Life Program!

FREE Teleclass:
Passion Management – How to Juggle/Prioritize all of the Passions We Have

In this free call we’ll take a look at “Passion Management” and how to manage all of the passions that you want to tackle in your business and life. You will discover:

  • How to tap into your passion and take it to the next level.
  • How to ignore the naysayers and surround yourself with people who believe in your passionate goals.
  • How to evaluate whether you have achieved a certain level of success for a particular passion and to reward yourself.

Click here to sign up to attend this session (and others).

I coined an interesting phrase recently when I was facilitating one of the teleclasses for my group coaching program, DECIDE to be Organized. I was speaking to the group about how so many high functioning, busy, successful men and women have all of these passions and get overwhelmed with trying to decide which to do and which to implement. I referred to the act of managing all of those passions as “Passion Management” (instead of Time Management, Project Management or Energy Management). Everyone loved the phrase and I realized I was onto something.

Passion Management acknowledges that we do, indeed, have multiple passions. I, for one, always refer to myself as a multi-passionate entrepreneur and person. Also, Passion Management is a much more positive way of describing our dilemma of what to do with all of these great ideas. Time management and project management are terms that are not only overused but, unfortunately, can be a negative reminder of our lack of time, as opposed to a motivating factor that leads to productivity.

Passion Management is the ability to manage all of the passions you want to tackle in business and life. Here are some tips to help guide your Passion Management.

Pick a Passion

Most multi-passionate people are swimming in a sea of great ideas, and often have the drive to make them happen. The conundrum is which passion to pursue. My advice — pick a passion and go for it! Author and life coach Cheryl Richardson talked about this when I heard her speak in NYC years ago. She said that so many of her clients get stuck because they have so many great ideas and passions, but don’t know which to pursue. So they wind up pursuing… yup, you guessed it — nothing. Don’t fall victim to passion confusion! It is better to pick a passion and allow it to blossom and flourish than to be trapped under a mountain of too many great ideas. If you pick a passion and it does not go well or does not take off the way you wanted it to, that’s okay. Regroup, learn from your passion exercise, and pick a new one.

Tap Into Your Passion

One of the best ways to determine what you should (and want to) focus on is to tap into your passion. Sometimes we lose focus with our business or personal projects and we need to take the time to remind ourselves what we value and why we are staying the course. It is all too easy to get bogged down in details and tasks. Try to ask yourself, “Why am I really doing this project?” and see if there is a reason that relates back to one of your passions, whether personal or professional. For example, maybe you are feeling the crunch of trying to blog several times a week. Ask yourself why you set this schedule and whether it taps into one of your passions. If your passion is to write, then write! Do you need to stay on a particular schedule? Will anyone, but you, notice if you only write when your passion strikes? Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure, or more likely, undue stress, when we remain too regimented. Yes, I am a professional organizer and see the value in systems, processes, and timelines, trust me. But it is vital to check in and ask yourself: “Is this tapping into my passion?” If so, it will help propel you forward and remind you why you are doing this particular task or project. If you realize this task or project does not tap into any of your passions, you may decide to abandon the project, delegate the task, or reevaluate whether you want and need to continue it.

Ignore the Naysayers

Often, you are making actual progress towards achieving your passions, but someone tries to sabotage you. Try not to let this derail your efforts! You need to stay the course, despite what they say. If you are truly passionate about the project, you will be able to withstand attacks. The famous life coach Martha Beck talks about surrounding yourself with people who can be your “believing eyes.” I love this idea! Adopt it and use it as your own. Stay away from the Negative Nellies, and surround yourself with people who believe in your passionate goals and will help you achieve them. Passion is contagious and can not only serve as strong motivation for you, but as inspiration for others. People notice passion. In fact, in my opinion, people often notice passion more than they notice productivity!

Celebrate Your Passion Successes

When we take on a project or task and successfully complete it, we often reward ourself at the completion. But when we pursue a passion, we may not have any reward system built in. In some situations, it is hard to determine when we have “completed” a passion. Passions are often ongoing. They can be a particular way of approaching a topic, or a passion can be a mindset or belief. But it is important to come up with some way of rewarding your successes and milestones when pursuing your passions. Figure out ways to evaluate whether you have achieved a certain level of success for a particular passion. The more successful you feel at each step, the more apt you are to keep moving on the path towards achieving your passion goals. And most passionate people just want to keep the passion going!