From ceramics makers to professional organizers, one trait all the people profiled in our How to Quit Your Day Job series have in common: passion. Ahhh, passion. It’s a buzzy phrase, but what exactly does it mean? And how do you channel it into a lifestyle that is both sustainable AND satisfying? We talked to a professional passion developer for answers. Yep, it’s a real job! Meet The Passion Co. founder and professional passion developer Jessica Semaan. She’s committed to helping individuals spin their wildest wishes into reality. In other words, she’s like a cooler, real-life version of Jiminy Cricket.
Meet the Passion Pro
For Jessica, pursuing her passion for passion didn’t come overnight. After graduating from Stanford Business School, she landed a plum role as one of the early employees at Airbnb. Yet, Jessica still didn’t feel like her heart was completely synching up with her perfect-on-paper profession. After much reflection, Jessica started putting her energy into a side project, Passion Stories, an interview series that profiled 100 women who were following their passion. As the series grew, Jessica began to receive emails from women all over the world who were inspired by these profiles. Jessica realized that there were so many people like her, people who were struggling to identify and utilize their talents in a way that was fulfilling. The Passion Co. began as workshops held in Jessica’s apartment after work, in the evenings and on weekends, eventually growing into a workshop series, a new conference and most importantly, a network of creative and passionate people who wanted to support and encourage each other.
Want to start living your dreams, too? Here’s how.
1. Everyone Has a Passion: Jessica was confident when she told us, “Everyone has a passion in life.” While people all too often equate this concept with money or success, Jessica shared, “Passion is when you do something that makes you come alive.” This doesn’t have to be your day job — in fact, for most people, it’s an activity that they pursue on the side. All it has to be is a “heart-based desire you have towards an activity.”
2. There’s No Right or Wrong Age to Find a Passion: One frequent concern that people have is that it’s “too late” to discover their passion, and Jessica tells us this is absolutely untrue. Her company often hears from women who come to her after their kids have graduated from college, or they have recently gone through a divorce, and aren’t sure where to start. No matter what stage you are in life, finding your passion just means giving yourself the opportunity to focus on yourself and discover what fulfills you.
3. Your Passion Can Change: Jessica shares that another myth is the idea that your passion can’t change. Once you’ve found your passion, you aren’t stuck with it forever (unless you want to be!). Just as people grow and mature, their interests and motivators can also evolve over time, especially as they go through major life changes. For example, Jessica told us that right now, her passion is The Passion Co., but in three years, it could be her family, and then it could change again.
4. You Can Have More Than One Passion: Jessica tells us, “We all have more than one passion. Picture a tree: Your passions are all the branches. Whatever branch you focus on will give you a fruit.” Just as your passions can change, it’s okay to have more than one interest. Jessica says rather than overthink it, “Pick one passion and dedicate one month to it, then see how you feel. Experiment.”
5. Your Passion Project Can Be a Side Gig: A lot of times, people are under the understanding that their profession should be their passion, and then when they aren’t fulfilled by their job, they find themselves unhappy. When it comes to developing whatever it is that inspires and motivates you, Jessica says it’s okay to start small. It’s easier and much more accessible to first think of your “passion” as a small project that you start on the side, like Jessica did with Passion Stories. Even after Jessica found success with Passion Stories and leading her workshops, she stayed with Airbnb for four years before finally making the full-time commitment to The Passion Co. And if you never make the jump to pursue your passion full time, that’s okay too!
Perfect Your Skills
1. Write Every Day: If you aren’t sure yet about your passion, or if you aren’t sure what to do with it once you’ve found it, Jessica encourages you to make a commitment to write in a journal every morning for 30 days. By getting your ideas out of your head and down on paper, you’ll be able to clear your head, capture your brilliant thoughts and goals and really narrow the focus on what inspires you.
2. Make a Bucket List: It may feel a little strange, but thinking of everything you want to accomplish in this lifetime can really put your goals in perspective. Jessica says that this doesn’t have to be a solitary activity — sit with a friend and make a night of coming up with all the goals you want to achieve before you die. The list should encompass everything from your family goals to professional goals, and can even include beauty and travel aspirations. Afterward, review your list and see what commonalities exist, and if there are any concrete actions you can take toward accomplishing them (Hint: We bet there are!).
3. Read Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl ($7): As you’re pondering the meaning of your life and just what to do with it, why not take inspo from this classic book that does the same and more? Jessica tells us that everyone should read Frankl’s book, which details the psychiatrist’s experiences with suffering and finding meaning in life, and how to translate that knowledge into action.
4. Attend Start Conference ($90/one day, $354/weekend pass): For those who are ready to pursue their passions, The Passion Co. is hosting an incredible three-day conference that brings together 30 speakers who have found success with their passion, along with workshops and activities for discovering and maximizing your creativity and strengths. The conference also allows you to connect with past Passion Project participants and gain valuable insights from their experiences. The conference takes place October 23-25 in San Francisco.
Have you found your passion? Tell us about it in the comments below!