When I was in high school, I dreamt of becoming a rock star. After all, it was the mid-80s and my heroes were Jon Bon Jovi and Eddie Van Halen. Oh sure, the riches and fame sounded enticing, but I primarily envisioned looking out from the stage and seeing all the smiling faces there to enjoy my music. I had witnessed my middle school classmate Sisaundra singing in class and on the school bus and was inspired by the way she was able to lift people’s spirits with her voice.
I wanted to have that kind of effect on others. In pursuit of my dream, I took guitar lessons from a young man named Chris Juergensen, who had a passion for playing and teaching guitar. After several years, Chris moved away and I finally gave up on my dream of becoming a rock star. I then set a more realistic career goal for myself and decided to become an attorney. I focused on that goal until I achieved it.
Over the years, I have learned that whatever we focus on- on a consistent basis- is what tends to manifest in our lives. I did not realize my dream of becoming a professional musician because I gave up. Chris Juergensen, on the other hand, focused on being the best guitarist he could be and, as a result, he became a renowned guitarist and author who continues to inspire and educate musicians from Tokyo to New York.
And Sisaundra, from middle school, focused on her singing career which led to five world tours with Celine Dion. In addition, she was a principal vocalist for Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba for a decade and was even a powerhouse contestant on NBC’s The Voice. Indeed, Chris and Sisaundra have achieved unbelievable success by focusing on their career goals, which also happened to be their passion in life.
It is important to understand that this concept, “the power of mental focus,” does not just apply to career goals. That was obviously true because, even after I achieved my own career goal, I focused on what I felt was missing in my life and my worry, doubt, and fear created even more negativity. There were times I considered giving up on not only my career but my life. My negative focus created negative energy that kept people at a distance, prevented doors of opportunity from opening and basically ensured I would never be happy.
In 2005, however, I wandered into a fossil shop and bought a fateful souvenir – a little dinosaur tooth – that awakened my passion for paleontology and radically transformed my life in a positive way. On the surface, it appeared as though dinosaurs had brought me back to life. In reality, it was my change in mental focus that led to my positive transformation.
Yes, I’m still an attorney and have been for 25 years. But, for the past 14 years, I have also been on an adventure that I am thrilled to share with others. I always enjoy seeing the smiling faces of those who are excited to touch a real dinosaur bone or hear about my latest dig site adventure. You might say I ended up a “rock” star after all.
After years of analyzing my own positive transformation, I now realize my passion for paleontology had four essential characteristics that made it powerful enough to transform my life:
1. It was positive and productive
This one’s quite simple – only something positive has the power to transform your life in a positive way. A negative pursuit (i.e. a harmful vice) will inevitably lead to negative consequences, even if it makes you feel happy when you’re pursuing it.
2. I was genuinely excited about it
Unless you are genuinely excited about your passion, your interest will eventually fizzle and it will not have the power to transform your life for the better.
3. It was ongoing
For your passion to help you maintain a positive mental focus and to ensure that you stay on a cycle of positivity, it must be pursued on an ongoing or at least a regular basis. Of course, you will still encounter obstacles and the challenges of day-to-day life. That’s just part of being human. But staying positive mentally is a conscious decision that we must work toward daily.
4. I shared it with others
This is another simple but very powerful concept. If you are pursuing something you keep to yourself, it is not likely to transform your life, at least in a significant way. It is through the process of getting out there and sharing your enthusiasm that you will make new friends, new opportunities will open, and you will find your passion truly enriching your life.
If, like my friends Chris and Sisaundra, you are pursuing a career that is also your passion, then kudos to you. You are already living the dream! If, on the other hand, you have a good job, but still find yourself focused on negativity or simply stuck in a rut, it’s time to find your passion – regardless of whether you ever turn it into a career. Your true and life-changing passion is like a dinosaur skeleton buried in the ground. You’re not going to find it until you seek it out and uncover it.
Once you are pursuing a passion that meets the four criteria, your positive thoughts and enthusiasm will produce positive energy which will draw the best things possible into your life!
Attorney Elaine Howard transformed her life from one of despair and hopelessness – after battling academic struggles, low self-esteem, and an eating disorder – to one of excitement and adventure when she inadvertently discovered paleontology. Over the past 14 years, Howard has become certified in fossil lab and fieldwork by the Wyoming Dinosaur Center and participated in many dinosaur digs. As a certified coach and member of the Certified Coaches Alliance, she is also on a mission to encourage others to find their own unique passion and allow it to transform their lives into an exciting adventure. Connect with Elaine Howard on Instagram @dinosaurlaine and visit www.passioninthebones.com.
Passion in the Bones: A Guide to Breaking the Chains of Negativity and Living Your Own Adventure is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon and other retailers.