How to Identify Your Passion and Increase Your Happiness

As a young boy I was taught, by my parents and other mentors, to go after my passion in life. I was told that if you could figure out what you love, and find a way to make a living doing what you love, that life would be very good. They were right and I will always be grateful for that advice.

To make sure I’m being clear, I’m not saying that life should be a continual series of only doing the things which you “like to do” and which bring no challenge. What I am saying is, when you figure out what you really love to do, you’ll be much more equipped to tackle the challenges life brings.  The work needed, and yes it will take a lot of that, will feel like play.

The question for many I connect with is, “how do I find my passion in life?”

The danger in responding is that responses tend to wander about with lots of conceptual approaches and leave you somewhat confused. Instead, I’m going to share one concrete strategy which I co-created with my friend and colleague, Corey Ferrugia, and our shared mentor, Dr. Carroll Rinehart.  Grab your laptop, iPad or if you’re old school, some paper and something to write with. I also suggest some bulletproof coffee or green tea to get your brain going in a healthy way.

STRATEGY: The Circles of Purpose

Know that there are many variations on this strategy, which is a hallmark of any great strategy (which allows anyone to make it their own). Below is one way I have used this strategy to further refine my passion(s) in life, how to effectively go after them, and as a result increase my level of happiness and satisfaction with myself and my journey.


Create a list of all the people who get your time. List them in order of who gets most of your time. Be specific and list approximate percentages of the time they are currently receiving. This is not a list of your desired percentages and people. This is a real time list.

Next to their name, list why they get your time. For example, first on my list is my wife Marie. One of the reasons she gets the most of my time is not because she’s my wife. It’s because she brings so much value to our relationship. Specifically, she is very objective with any of my ideas that I have in many areas and we end up having what I call “high-value” discussions all the time. There is also a high level of trust. On the other hand, there are other members of my family, whom I love unconditionally, yet who are not on my list. This may seem strange, but it’s not. In fact, it’s liberating. It means that I can love someone, yet if they tend to be negative, I can love them and choose not to have them impact the direction of my life.

Another example, is my colleague Rick Wamer, who is very high on the list. I find that the individuals higher on the list have multiple reasons as to why they are on the list. Rick has taught me a great deal about artistic expression and habits of thought. We perform together and present together. His attitude towards life has seeped into my consciousness and impacted even my daily routines.

I find that I’m always open to adding new people to my list and moving people around. I do this with a deep sense of gratitude, and not with a sense of “being in control of everything.” I find that the more we look for mentorship, friendship, and other positive attributes, the more the law of attraction kicks in positively.

Another example is my daughter Sam, who is now 23. I have always loved my daughter. There was a time when she wasn’t on this list. This had no impact on my love for her. I have always and will always love her without condition, cheering her on and being thrilled for her accomplishments. What is completely amazing is now having her on this list. It happened organically. I never ask someone if they want to be on the list. They decide, based on their actions and attitudes. My daughter is quite high on the list and the reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Artistic Innovation
  • Creative inspiration
  • Informal mentoring me in the area of gender equity
  • Co-Creating with me
  • Intellectual stimulus
  • Pushing my boundaries

You’ll notice that nowhere on those list of reasons is anything related to our love for each other. Again, that is separate and is not for sale.

For those who know me, you are probably wondering about my son Nick, who is now 19. He, much like my daughter was at one time not on the list. He is now also quite high on the list and some of the reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • Introducing me to new perspectives
  • Compassion for others
  • Choosing one’s emotional state of being
  • Active exploration of new business ideas
  • Intellectual stimulus
  • Pushing my boundaries

There are a lot people on my list, and it is always evolving. One more example, is someone on my list who is not alive. This person passed away recently. His name is Dr. Carroll Rinehart. When he passed, I wept with tears of deep gratitude. His impact on me and many others was profound. I think of his words still, and in doing so he is an active part of my life.


Next, make a list of all your current projects and list them in order of how much of your time they take. Next to each project, list why it gets that much of your time and be honest.


Next make a list of all your priorities. This is very subjective. This can include anything such as health, relationships, spirituality, work, career, family time and anything else that speaks to the things in life which matter to you. List these in order of what is most important to you.


This is where many variations begin. There are many questions I ask myself related to the people, projects and priorities in my life. In fact, what Corey and I love to do is create a venn diagram with these lists and in the area where they all overlap is where we place the word “Purpose.”

One of my favorite questions, and the one I encourage you to ask yourself is:

“Do all the people on my list actively support and encourage my projects and priorities?”

In the past, if I had asked myself this question, I would have been surprised to find that many would not have been supportive. Today I have crafted a social and emotional network, and by default, everyone on my list is in someone bringing great value to our ever evolving journey. In other words, it’s a two way street.

The result of this is a very high quality of life characterized by:

  • Happiness
  • Fulfillment
  • Relevant accomplishments
  • Building of community
  • High levels of engagement with many


I will most likely write another blog or two on this one step, because it has a lot of depth. In short, keep the following in mind as you go back to your circles of purpose.

  • Be honest in your evaluation of your circles, especially the people in your life.
  • For those loved ones not on your list, be compassionate and be a model of kindness.
  • Be as specific as you can as to why someone is on your list.
  • Be willing to change who is on your list.
  • Embrace flexibility with projects based on your evolving sense of what is important to you.
  • Embrace flexibility with your priorities based on your mental and physical health.

Enjoy your journey and embrace all that you can be.



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