Whether it happens voluntarily or not, giving up a passion that you’ve spent years cultivating can be a very distressing process. After all, for those who’ve practiced their passions according to the principles of the mastery mind-set, their passion inevitably defines who they are. You might have started out having an interest in writing, but by developing your passion, you became a writer. This transformation embodies a process through which our passion becomes an integral part of who we are and how we orient ourselves in the world.
Having to give up a passion can even result in destructive behavior, a danger for people like aging athletes and artists who can no longer make ends meet. After all, passions transform our physical and psychological selves; we become accustomed to the dopamine that practicing our passion produces, and when we’re no longer receiving it, that leaves a void. This void can be a recipe for substance abuse, gambling or other sorts of regrettable
activities. This can even be the point at which the fine line between passion and drug addiction that we’ve discussed finally gets crossed.
Of course, there are a number of less destructive coping mechanisms upon which people who give up their passion can rely. Retired athletes, for example, go through “transition out of sport” classes. Recently retired professionals court advice from friends, who’ll often tell them they should fill the void with new activities that will help keep them stimulated, such as traveling or volunteering.
But these coping strategies only have limited effectiveness as they come from other people telling us what to do. The only place you can truly discover ways of climbing out of the void left by giving up your passion is within yourself. So instead of surrounding yourself with friends or going on an adventure, you need to reflect on all the positive attributes in which years of pursuing your passion have resulted. By doing so, you’ll be able to craft a unique story about what you enjoyed most in the pursuit of your passion and why you will miss it. Once you feel you’ve reflected on your passion for long enough to encapsulate its importance to your identity, it’s time to get on with your life. Embrace the personality characteristics that fueled your passion in the first place and redirect them into new endeavors – and perhaps even new passions.