“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”—Oprah Winfrey
“Success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”—Oxford English Dictionary
Are you aged 50? What about 60? Perhaps, you’re older than 70?
No matter your age or career, passion is vital—it is the key to your success in work and life.
I am a retired university instructor and an experienced family caregiver, caring for my husband 24/7, for three years, including three months in hospice at home.
Caregiving is a challenging and very stressful job.
But I felt nothing but gratitude for my ability to care for my husband myself during his long illness.
For a while, I thought I was imbalanced because I refused to let anyone else, aside from the nursing and aid staff, tend to his personal needs.
I wanted to care for my husband myself—period.
I realize now, since his passing, that it was my “passion” (as well as love) that drove me to insist on a practically hands-off stance when it came to others caring for my husband.
Family and friends would say to me, “Aren’t you tired? Why won’t you let us help you.”
Yes, I was tired, exhausted even, and I did accept the relief offered by the family from time to time, a few hours here and there, but it was rare.
I was there, watching over and caring for my husband, 24/7.
For instance, the doctors hospitalized my husband several times. And on two occasions during his illness, he had to spend several days in a 24-hour rehabilitation physical therapy center.
But I never missed even one day of spending time with him. I often stayed overnight at the hospital or the therapy center.
I couldn’t help myself.
Was I crazy?
What Is Passion?
How would you define passion?
According to Oxford English Dictionary: “Passion is a powerful emotion; an intense enthusiasm for something.”
I was passionate and focused on ensuring I met my husband’s every need in my caregiving duties.
And everything I’ve accomplished since his death has been driven by passion—my passion for helping other family caregivers succeed.
Steve Jobs said, “People with passion can change the world for the better.”
Also, to quote Jobs: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
I had an “intense enthusiasm”—a passion for caring for my husband.
I have similar zeal when it comes to making a difference in the lives of other family caregivers as they experience extreme emotional turbulence.
Emotions affect health.
Thus, my idea to write a “health” book took shape.
My book, published in 2019, is titled: A Family Caregiver’s Guide: 7 Secrets to Convert Negative Triggers to Positive Emotions.
I cannot tell you how much joy and excitement I felt writing this book.
I wanted to share my experiences, revelations, and “secrets” to keep it all together day in and day out as my husband’s health deteriorated.
My book is a labor of love that I hope will change the family “caregiver’s world” for the better.
I successfully published my Family Caregiver’s Guide book in 2019.
How Do You Measure Success?
“Success” is an accomplishment of an aim or purpose and something you have to define for yourself. No one else can do it for you.
For me, writing and publishing my health book was a success.
During my 20s and 30s, I measured success by my job title and income.
How I advanced up the corporate ladder and how much money I made was my metrics—period.
As I entered my 40s and 50s, I concentrated on how well our investments for retirement were doing—and yes, we took a few money-losing risks!
I was forever in the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) mode.
In the 90s and into the 2000s, I spent thousands of dollars on various training programs to learn the next “big thing.”
Today, in my senior year, my metrics are different.
Use Your Values to Measure Success
Values are personal.
You undoubtedly could list many values, but which are most important to you?
Your values will help you find your true purpose, and what you want to do with the rest of your life.
Why not take a few minutes to think deeply about this question and list perhaps ten or so values that matter most to you in life; your core values?
For example, my core values include the following:
Once you list your core values, ask, “Do I live in alignment with my values?”
Take a look at your life and regularly affirm and check in with your values.
For instance, I listed “family” as my number one core value.
How did I manifest this in my life?
If you’ve read the introduction to this article, you will see that caring for my husband during his illness was always number one in my consciousness.
My passion, my enthusiasm for ensuring my loved one’s comfort, was always top-of-mind.
The warmth and love I felt during those last moments before my husband died, I now cherish in my heart.
I also listed “well-being” as one of my core values.
In my Family Caregiver’s book, I define well-being on p. 151: “The state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.”—Oxford English Dictionary
What contributes to my well-being?
- Being optimistic
- Feeling completely involved and engaged in what I do
- Accepting myself for the way I am
- Having a purpose and mission in life
- Feeling that what I do is worthwhile
And I feel happy most of the time.
Another core value I listed: is “faith.”
To live in alignment with this value, I have a ritual wherein I pray and meditate each morning.
If you are not showing up as authentic or slipping up and doing something totally outside of your values, recommit!
“Living” your values is a powerful way to lead a purposeful and intentional life.
Remember that values are ongoing, whereas you can achieve goals and can, at some point, check off as completed.
And your values can change over time.
But you will discover that your “passions” lead to success in whatever purpose you have going forward when you are committed and enthusiastic.
My core values propelled me to want to write my health book for the benefit of family caregivers.
But I want to do more.
Thus, I also plan to create a program for “working” family caregivers to learn how to use tips, strategies, and tools to transform how they feel about their dual role as caregiver and employee and maintain a high level of performance in the workplace.
You Are Never Too Old to Learn
If you are at an advanced age, you may feel that you’re incapable of learning anything new or pursuing a passion, for instance, for uplifting others in some way, for health and fitness projects, or for a new career.
You’ve seen it all. You’ve heard it all. You’ve done it all.
The book, Inside the Brain states:
“What the brain can do depends on whether or not the brain is used.
“Just as exercise keeps people vigorous into their seventies and eighties, researchers are demonstrating that mental workouts can do the same for the aging brain.
“A downhill slide into mental befuddlement was little more than a self-fulfilling prophecy, usually the result of brain disuse.”
A decline in mental performance does occur in later years.
But according to researchers, the active brain resists deterioration: “Research shows that 70 or 80 years of learning is to the brain what a thimbleful of water is to a large drum or water—it hardly even makes a mark.”
No matter your age, you can and must continue learning.
Have a passion for learning.
Have a passion for engaging in projects that excite you!
Thus far in this article, you have learned:
- What passion is
- How to use your values to measure success
- How to know you are never too old to learn (the science proves it!)
Coming up next:
- How to find your true passion using a passion test.
- How to make a vision board to get you started in your true love.
- How to set professional and personal goals using the SMART method.
The Passion Test
In my Family Caregiver’s Guide book, pp. 182-184, I quote Jack Canfield’s (author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series) idea to use a process developed by Janet and Chris Attwood in 2008, called the “Passion Test,” to find your life purpose.
Jack Canfield refers to this test as the “world’s number one tool for finding your passion.”
Here’s how the process works:
You start by filling in the blank fifteen times for the following statement:
“When my life is ideal, I am _______.” The word(s) you choose to fill in the blank must be a verb (s).
My statements might look like this:
- My life is ideal when I write blogs and articles to educate, inform, and entertain family caregivers.
- My life is ideal when I teach people how to control their negative feelings and replace them with love’s strongest positive emotion.
- My life is ideal when I train caregiving wives in self-care, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- My life is ideal when I learn something new that I can use to help others in boosting their well-being.
- My life is ideal when I participate in an after-caregiving support group and find new ways to serve.
And so forth.
Once you’ve created 15 statements, you identify the top 5 choices.
To do this, you compare comments #1 and #2 to determine which is most important. Take the winner of that comparison and decide whether it’s more or less critical than statement #3.
Then, take the winner of that comparison, decide whether it’s more or less critical than statement #4, and so on.
Do this until you’ve identified the passion that is most meaningful to you.
Repeat the process with the remaining fourteen statements to identify your second choice.
Then, repeat the process until you’ve pinpointed your top five passions in life.
Next, create markers for each of your top five passions so that you can look at your life and easily see whether you are living that passion.
My life goal would be: “Through my books, blogs, articles, and courses, I’m helping family caregivers respond to the daily stresses of life with patience and compassion as opposed to having feelings of anger, frustration, and other negative emotions.”
A similar exercise would be to conduct a “Joy review” when you think about the times you’ve felt the greatest joy in your life.
Make a list of these times and look at the patterns.
Some believe that joy is a part of your internal guidance system, which tells you when you are on the right course.
Why not discover your life purpose or your passion by completing a joy review?
How to Make a Vision Board
As I discuss in my Caregiver’s Guide book, the Law of Attraction instituted the vision board, and as with most things of this nature, there is controversy as to whether a vision board works.
Be assured that Olympic athletes have been using vision boards for decades to improve performance.
However, psychologist Nell Farber M.D, Ph.D., in his article, “Throw Away Your Vision Board,” disagrees about the usefulness of a vision board:
“Fantasizing about your perfect world and your perfect life may make you feel better in the short term but will limit your ability to transform your dreams into reality. Convert your vision boards to action boards.” (Farber, 2012).
The vision board is simply a tool that helps you focus not just on the things you want but also on how you feel; to inspire and motivate you to reach your goals.
There aren’t any rules to making a vision board, but here are a few ideas:
- Get any board, whether it be a cork, poster, or pin.
- Get markers, stickers, and pins.
- Paste or pin images from magazines or photos of things you want, places you want to go, etc.
- Paste or pin quotes, sayings, or notes from friends to help inspire or motivate you.
- Set aside one or two hours of stress-free time to work on your board.
You can find many ideas to create a vision board on Pinterest and other places on the Web.
How to Set SMART Goals
I base the following section on my book: A Family Caregiver’s Guide: 7 Secrets to Convert Negative Triggers to Positive Emotions (2019).
“Hitch your wagon to a star,” advises an old saying. Goals of a higher purpose give meaning to our lives.
A goal is an aim or desired result. Goals keep us from drifting, floundering, or stagnating.
People are goal-oriented. Setting goals aids and strengthens our purpose, and striving to reach them helps people in their day-to-day lives.
A life without goals is pointless and goes nowhere. Therefore, be sure to have worthwhile goals to guide your use of time and energy.
However, goals alone have little meaning. They have real sense only when actions accompany them.
Goals Are Time-Savers
Have you noticed the number of people who squander years of their lives “hanging out” or engaging in leisurely pursuits? What is lacking in the lives of these people?
It is knowing what you want to do and planning to meet the goals you have set will help you make better use of your time.
Thus far in this article, you have learned how passion leads to success and have been encouraged to continue learning, as you are “never too old to learn.”
I hope you’ve completed the “passion test,” and done some soul searching, and decided on your next step in life; your purpose.
Whatever your next step, I hope you have passion and excitement as you move forward.
The “classic” way to set goals is the SMART plan, designed to make goals happen and hold you accountable.
The SMART acronym first appeared in the November 1981 issue of Management Review: “There’s a SMART way to write management goals and objectives.”
Written by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham, here’s how it works:
S= Be specific. Clearly define what it is you want to achieve.
For example: “I want to coach caregivers of people with dementia.”
M= Measurable. How can you measure your success? How will you know you’ve accomplished this goal? When you’ve completed training and earned your coaching certificate? Or when you have your first client?
You may want to have objectives along the way, and specific achievements to help you reach your goal. Objectives are measurable and have a timeline.
For example: “I will research the cost and length of three different coaching programs by March 20, 2022.”
A= Attainable. What action steps will you take to reach your goal? In your SMART plan, you should list every step. In the example we’re discussing here, researching the costs and lengths of coach training programs would be one step. In your plan, you will want to explicitly list as many steps as possible to help you reach your goal.
R= Realistic or Relevant. Be realistic about your ambitions. Know what you’re willing and able to do. For instance, if the coaching program you’ve chosen will take twelve months and three thousand dollars, ask yourself if this is something you are willing to do. Do you want to devote this much time and money to pursue this new career (passion)?
“Relevant” means to ensure that the steps in your plan are appropriate when it comes to reaching your goal. Some say the “R” means “Rewarding.” I like the term “Realistic” as it provides the chance to pause and consider your decision.
T= Time-Bound or Timeframe. A specific target date will give you a sense of urgency that will motivate you to complete your goal.
When, for instance, do you want to begin living your life purpose to coach caregivers of people with dementia?
“By March 1, 2023, I will have earned my certification, and by June 15, 2023, I will have found my first client.”
You will, of course, have several steps (objectives) you will need to achieve along the way to your target date of March 1, 2023, to qualify to coach.
Remember that your life purpose doesn’t have to satisfy every need.
You’ll have other goals as well.
No matter what your goals are, you want to make them SMART.
The critical points in this article:
- Passion is a powerful emotion, an intense enthusiasm for something.
- Measure success based on your values, as your values will help you identify your true purpose in life.
- You’re never too old to learn.
- How to take a passion test.
- How to make a vision board
- How to set SMART goals.
Now go out there and do great things in the world, even if you’re 80+!
It is your passion that will help you to succeed.
It’s not too late!
“Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams.”—Donovan Bailey
Farber, Nell (2012). Throw Away Your Vision Board. Psychology Today.
Kotulak, Ronald. Inside the Brain: Revolutionary Discoveries of How the Mind Works (1997). Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Chillis, Rosa (2019). A Family Caregiver’s Guide: 7 Secrets to Convert Negative Triggers to Positive Emotions. Wellness Ink Publishing.