How to Make a Passion Map
When my friend and colleague Natalie Currie recommended an article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR), I was… skeptical. Until I was blown away:
“Follow your passion, we’re often told. But how do you find your passion? Let me put it another way: what is it that breaks your heart about the world? It’s there that you begin to find what moves you. If you want to find your passion, surrender to your heartbreak. Your heartbreak points towards a truer north — and it’s the difficult journey towards it that is, in the truest sense, no mere passing idyllic infatuation, but enduring, tempestuous passion.” ~ Umair Haque on hbr.com
The Thing Is…
Navigating based on your heartbreaks sounds… heartbreaking. But I am experimenting with it. Natalie’s recommendation came to me on the exact same day that a beloved mentor outlined a mapping-your-love practice, so I hybridded (hybred?) the two ideas into a tool for me and you:
- Get a blank paper and a pencil — better yet a whole box of colored pencils. (But don’t let a lack of supplies hold you back because you can color it in later. Just go for it.)
- OR go here to download my rudimentary template! It’s kinda’ cute in a rustic way (which is my favorite way, by the way)
- Start at the end — Think of three times you were heart broken. Across the top of the paper, draw a little picture* of each thing that broke your heart. I don’t mean the action that broke your heart but what you were in love with: the person, place, activity, thing, or time.
- Consider the middle — Across the middle of the page, draw a line representing the moment when you fell in love with that heart-breaker.
- Piece your way back to the beginning — Below the line, write in all the steps and conditions that led to your falling in love.
- Think of every little thing that preceded your fall! This is fun homework. Spell/draw it ALL out. Nothing is off limits: seasons, clothes, jokes, food, coincidences, hunches, synchronicities, signs, angles of light, thoughts, smells, sounds, etc…
- Steps and conditions will likely occur to you out of order, so just insert them however you can. Include arrows and even road signs if you want.
- You may find overlap between how you got to your three different love experiences. If so, just write each step once and use arrows to show converging and diverging paths. In fact on my partially completed example of a map in progress (here), I am surprised to discover how many of my steps/conditions are the same no matter what I fall in love with or when!. You may prefer to write the steps on post-its as I did. (I cut my post-its into little baby post-its. Geek? Oh yeah.)
- Above the line, fill in all the elements of the second half — the part where you were in love. List everything you did and experienced that was wonderful.
- Skip the yucky stuff.
- As before, your three different loves may share some elements; just draw them out once.
- Include what you felt and thought about yourself as well as all the wonderful elements of your beloved thing. On my example in progress, I think I need to start getting a little more concrete in this area here.
How to Decipher and Navigate with Your Map
1. Cut off the topmost part of your map — the part that shows the objects of your love. [Bwa ha ha]
2. Look at the steps and conditions on the bottommost part of your paper. Circle every step/condition that occurred more than once. Also circle any one you simply ADORE.
- Get a new piece of paper and write out the circled steps and conditions in some order — any order you want. Voila: a POTENTIAL PASSION MAP of how YOU do/might/will/could go about falling in love.
- Get yet another piece of paper. Rearrange the order of the elements. Voila: ANOTHER POTENTIAL PASSION MAP! There are as many iterations of this map as you care to make.
- ALTERNATELY: If you wrote your steps on post-its, just slide them around and make new maps. But if you do this, use your copier to capture each map before you rearrange for the next.
- For each map, next to each step/condition, take your pencil and write in an action you can take to re-create this scenario now.
3. Look at the elements of being in love (from the upper half of your original map). Again, note any repeats and all elements that make you giddy.
- Write the elements on post-its. Repeat them as many times as you want.
- Stick them all around on and in the different steps/conditions of your new maps.
- Infuse these conditions NOW and as often as possible. Not only will you feel in-love now, but that feeling will help you create even more passion. Our human mind is programmed to create conditions that feel NORMAL to us — we can use this fact to realize life’s lusciousness.
Navigating by heartbreak is not heart-breaking when you realize what you were in love with. It wasn’t just Joe/Jody Blow. Or that one house or one job or one day. You don’t have to pine for them forever (though a little straight up grieving is always important and never to be by-passed). Your map will help you realize that part of what you loved was the poetry. Or the staying awake late at night. Outside. Or the smell of sagebrush. Or the snacks. You can use these elements to throw yourself into love once more. Yes, there will be heart break again. But its worth it. We always break open and opener. At least that’s my theory and I’m testing it out with this mapping right now. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
* You can use words also/instead, but I do enjoy how images invite your unconscious out to play.