I want to follow my passion – where do I start?

Our agony aunt Mary Fenwick offers words of wisdom to help with whatever is troubling you


I want to follow my passion - where do I start?

Q. I’m 43, a part-time teacher of art, and a freelance artist. I’m desperate to get out of teaching and want to find a job that will fulfil me (even to a point of going full-time with it). What can I do to get the ball rolling? Name supplied

A. This is exciting – the strength of your emotion is helpful fuel. There are two types of motivation – push and pull. The first makes you keen to move away from something, the second is when you find something so compellingly attractive that all barriers tend to melt away. The good news is that the second type, also called an approach goal, is generally more powerful.

Sometimes we talk as if change is linear, with one step logically following another. I find it more useful to think about a treasure hunt – you haven’t got a map, but you can feel the sun on your face.

At the moment, everything is a clue telling you whether you are getting warmer or colder. If there’s something about this particular job that is pushing you away, it’s worth getting clear about what that is, then you can flip it into a positive element for your next role – for example, ‘I hate my boss’ becomes this item on your future checklist: ‘I want to work with someone I can learn from.’

Where are the tiny sparks – the project, student, colleague, teaching resource, or even a gallery window you walk past – that light up your landscape at the moment? How can you fan that flame? It might be a conversation with someone you admire, or who does a job you envy.

I wonder about a more fundamental approach of ‘I’m a full-time artist, what do I need to support that?’ If you don’t already know the work of Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way, get on the case! She doesn’t like to be called an expert, but says, ‘Artists have always mentored, I just do it on a wider scale.’ Her work is also available by video on her website, and she’s running a live event in London in May.

Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email mary@psychologies.co.uk, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.

Photograph: iStock