[Featured: The Wholehearted Woman] The Real Truth About Pursuing Your Passion

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I had my quarter-life crisis at age 24.  Don’t get me wrong, things on the outside looked great.  I was newly married, living an adventurous lifestyle abroad in Beijing, China, and landed a dream job teaching at an international school.  But things on the inside weren’t so dreamy.  I was struggling with the paradox of passion.  If I’m passionate about teaching, then how come I’m frustrated with my job?  If I’m meant to mentor others, then how come I can’t seem to find those opportunities?  If I’m here for a reason, then why can’t I create a well-integrated, passionate life?  

If I could go back and tell my 24-year-old self one thing, it would be this: Passion is working towards living out your Purpose.  It’s up to you to be intentional with it.  

There’s a lot of not-so-helpful tips about Passion out there.  “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”  “You only live once!” The essence of these mantras are to inspire you to do great things.  But if we’re not careful, we can struggle with Passion as we strive to chase it, rather than create it.     

Pursue Your Passion by Shi Chen

So today I wanted to share with you 3 Lies about Passion, and 3 Real Truths about pursuing it.  Hopefully, the truth will set you free. 

Passion Lie #1: “I need to be passionate about what I’m doing.”  

People get tripped up with this misconception because they associate their work with something that should fulfill their ultimate purpose.  The thing is, work is WORK.  People freak out when they can’t see the connection between where they are now, and where they’d like to be.  Your career and your business has different seasons.  It comes with challenges and opportunities for growth.  Putting your focus on things beyond your control, like circumstances, job title and description and where you can lose motivation.  Instead, you have it within your control to do the self-discovery work of identifying your passion, even if it’s just for the short-term..  Ask yourself: what’s important to me in order to create great work?  What’s my purpose for this season of my career?  What strengths do I have to offer to make a meaningful contribution?   Passion can consist of your gifts, your strengths, and your purpose, so when you can pinpoint these components, it’s easier to create opportunities to pursue them.  Passion starts with your attitude, your work ethic, and your outlook on creating positive outcomes so your initial passion can multiply into even more passion.  

For me, it was easy to lose sight of the big picture of helping these young kids grow their minds, confidence, and skills when I was caught up in the student drama, difficult conversations with parents, and administrative work.  Once I realized that my teaching job is equipping me with the leadership skills of communication, creation and execution, and working with different types of people (that would prepare me for whatever was next), I could engage better in all aspects of my work and infuse passion into everything I do.  

The Truth is: Pursuing your passion means you can be intentional about bringing passion into your work, instead of relying on your work to bring you passion.   

Passion Lie #2: “If I’m passionate about it, it should be so easy and FUN!”

The problem with this mentality is thinking passion = joy.  But the real definition of passion is doing something that’s bigger than yourself.  When you’re committed to doing something that really matters, like finally stepping out in faith to follow your dreams, go against the norm, or stand up for what you believe in, you’ll start to experience a bit of fear and resistance.  Change is tough -- and you could be mistaking those challenges and obstacles for a lack a passion.  For example, you will encounter self-doubt, people who naysay and don’t understand your vision, and things that won’t go as you expected.  Yes, pursuing your passion CAN be easy and fun, once you’ve learned to embrace your fears, face the resistance, and do what you set out to do anyways.  

During my teacher years, I noticed that I have a natural affinity for educating kids, but even more so, for mentoring and coaching emerging teachers.  As a young professional myself, who was I to teach best industry practices?  But when I recognized my desire to help other teachers with professional development, I had to face my fear of caring what others think, fear of failure, and a bit of fear of success in order to create a series of workshops, team building meetings, and one-on-one mentoring relationships.   

Truth: Pursuing your passion comes with learning to embrace your fears and face any resistance.

Passion Lie #3: “I need to turn my passion into profit.”

It’s certainly a noble goal to turn your passion into profit, but it’s a personal choice.  There are many  business owners who got to where they are today because they were good at something, helped people, and figured out a way to make it into their full-time living.  That’s what happened to me.  I got bit by the coaching and mentoring bug and wanted nothing more than to coach as as many people as possible.  

The thing to keep in mind is: there’s a difference between being a passionate creative/service provider and being a savvy business owner.  Meaning, I am a great coach but being a great boss lady requires a different skill set.  One that includes marketing, selling, product development, management, etc.  So, if you’re passionate about something, you get to choose whether or not you want to go through the learning curve of business building, or just keep it as a creative outlet.  Both are fine choices.    

Truth: Turning your passion into profit is a personal choice.  There’s a difference between being a passionate creative and a savvy business owner.  

When you pursue your passion, it’s important to recognize the hard work, the fear and the resistance, and the learning curve of new skills in order to continue to do work that matters and live a life of contribution and purpose. The truth is: passion starts with who you are, where you are.  You have the choice and the ability to infuse it into everything you do.  

If you're working on turning your passion into profit, then my 1:1 3-month "From Calling to Clients" business coaching package will help you lay a solid and sustainable foundation for your business.  Apply for a discovery call today to chat about if this is the right opportunity for you to receive the support to reach your BIG business goals.  

With joy, 

[Featured: Grit & Virtue] 3 Essential Mentors For Your Entrepreneurial Journey

As a leader, you have people looking to you for direction and guidance.  But who do you look to for support and wisdom?  I believe that we were never meant to go on our entrepreneurial journey alone and need mentors in our lives to encourage, challenge, and champion our success. I wrote an article about 3 Essential Mentors For Your Entrepreneurial Journey that breaks down the type of mentors you need in your life (and it may not be what you think they are!) and of course, practical action steps for you to take to cultivate those relationships. It's featured on Grit & Virtue which is an incredible resource that equips women for their entrepreneurial journey.  Check it out and let me know who your mentors are, or who you'd like to connect with!


"We were made to thrive in community, and use our gifts and strengths to serve others."

With joy,

Dream Like a 5-Year-Old

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A firefighter. A spaceman. Elsa from Frozen! When I was teaching preschool students and asked them this question, they responded with such ease and enthusiasm that it was contagious. The list of goes on and on. A flying unicorn. A beautiful mermaid. A Transformer. It didn’t matter if it was real, or practical, or if they actually had the skill set to pursue it. The only thing that mattered was that their imagination and sense of wonder allowed them to dream out loud what they wanted their lives to be about. Those 5-year-olds taught me an invaluable lesson about the importance of dreaming that I wanted to share with you today.

The Importance of Dreaming

When I talk about dreaming, I’m not talking about the sleepy, night-time dreams you have, but about the deep desires of your heart that are just waiting for you to acknowledge and express them. Dreams are so powerful because they can indicate what’s important to you. Dreams awaken your passions and when you give yourself permission to do it, it causes excitement, joy, and the pursuit of what’s possible. It’s a creative, right-brain activity that we don’t normally do, so it’s vital to make space for it. We'll “stretch those dreaming muscles” so we can continue to be visionary, proactive, and intentional with moving forward with our lives and businesses. Dreams are often are the seeds of change that only you can implement. Social movements like the Civil Rights Movement started because Dr. Martin Luther King “had a dream” and amazing companies like Apple started because Steve Jobs had a dream to challenge the status quo. So, taking some time to talk, reflect, and process through your dreams have massive potential for impact.

How to Dream like a Five-Year-Old

Where most people get stuck in the dreaming process is thinking that dreams are goals, or part of a to-do list. When you’re dreaming, you’re just having fun initiating ideas and possibilities. Dreams are cost-free and commitment-free. At this point, it’s really just challenging yourself to ask “what if….” and come up with interesting possibiltiies. 5-year-olds are experts at dreaming freely because they are honest in articulating what they want, but don’t necessarily feel the responsibility to make it happen. That’s the key to the dreaming process as a starting point, to give yourself the freedom to come up with big ideas without the weight of putting it into action (yet).

Now, It’s Your Turn

Grab your journal or open up a word doc, and take some time to process through the following and give yourself permission to DREAM! It’s powerful to not only write it down on paper, but also to say it aloud and talk to a trusted friend or coach about it. HAVE FUN with this and consider why these things are important to you.

If time and money were no object, what do I want to have? If I could live my ideal day, what do I want to do? If I reached my full potential, who would I want to be?

I’d love to hear what came up for you! Feel to leave in the comments below one thing that stood out to you as you did this. As always, you can always book a consultation to chat to see if further personalized coaching would be a helpful next step for you.

Keep dreaming,

The "Why" Behind My Business (+ a Refreshed Look!)

I knew there had to be something more. That life wasn’t meant to be lived frantically running on a hamster wheel, putting out fires, or saying yes to everything because I couldn’t say no. That the dreams, gifts, and ideas within me where there for a reason, and I needed a healthy outlet to express them. That trying to chase perfection and “having it all” was a race I didn’t want to win, or even run.

That period of my life was two years ago, when I was a full-time preschool teacher, newlywed wife, and leader in the church. I refer to it as my “quarter-life crisis”. Because even though all of these things were really good, I mixed up my priorities and somehow made them bad. At the ripe age of 25, I knew that it was time to make a change.

The thing is: change is inevitable, but intentional growth is something to be celebrated.

Whenever there’s an upcoming transition, I like to go back to basics. I like to refer back to the foundation of the core values of who I am and why I’m doing what I’m doing. These are the classics that stand the test of time. That even though things on the outside are changing, things on the inside are still the same.

So, two years later, I’ve transitioned from teaching into life coaching into full-time entrepreneurship and it’s been a wild journey. With the growth of my business, I felt it was time to do a refresh of my brand and have the much needed makeover it deserved. Thanks to Rachel of Intentionally Designed, the visual design of my brand communicates the warmth, joy, and inspiration I want people to feel when they interact with it. The elements that inspired it was actually parts of my home: think lit candles, cozy blankets, and chic outfits. I hope you feel an inviting sense of “welcome” whenever you come into contact with me.

With the updates to the brand, it was also timely to dig deep into my “why.” I was reminded at the Creative at Heart conference to start with purpose and know that my business is always about PEOPLE and cultivating those life-changing relationships.  That even though life and business has changing seasons, the heart behind who I am and what I do remains the same.

My mission to simple:To grow and connect the next generation of leaders to serve people well through their service based businesses.

Because life is good, and we choose to make it great.

3 core values that I use to guide and describe who I am and what I do are: creative, intentional, and joyful. Here’s a little more about what they mean to me.

Thank YOU for following along and being apart of my story. I’d love to hear from you about which aspect of the change really resonates with you. Feel free to leave your comments below.


ps: If you're interested in talking further about how to work with me, you can book a free consultation here:

Establishing Routines for your Creative Lifestyle

Establishing-Routines Dear Shi, I recently got a new job where I have much more flexibility to set my schedule and working hours. I really love the sense of freedom I have to work on my own terms, but I’m finding that every day is way different. It’s funny, I have all the time in the world to do things, but I don’t actually get things done. How do you find the balance between having the structure to make things predictable but also the flexibility to allow for life to happen? More importantly, how do I set up a personal schedule/routine to follow that blends both?

Sincerely, Mara

Dear Mara, I’m so glad you asked this question! A lot of people think that the ultimate dream is to have FREEDOM — to do what you want, when you want. But with that freedom comes great responsibility (or is that Spider-Man super powers?). Finding the balance between having structure to know what to expect and flexibility to adapt for things that come up is definitely a tricky skill. My suggestion for people who going through a major lifestyle change, like getting a new job, is to create a routine that allows for you to be intentional with how you spend your time. These intentions, carried out by your actions, is what will allow you to mix structure and flexibility in a way that works best for you. If that sounds good to you, here are a handful of tips to consider as you establish routines in your life and work.

Why a Routine is Essential for Your Creative Lifestyle

Routines are a set of repeated tasks that when done on a regular basis, creates a habit. As a creative, you want to save your creative juices to well…doing creative things. Routines help train your brain and your body to function on autopilot so you can “get into the flow” of doing the work. It’s really easy to get distracted or procrastinate on work if you don’t have a specific time block or deadline attached to it. Routines also build structure into your day and week to maximize your energy.


Some tips to consider as you create your routines:

  1. What are your priorities? What’s important to incorporate into your schedule? What are your non-negotiables of things that really make a difference in your life? 

    Starting with what’s important shows that you make time for the things that you value. These are your “big rocks” that anchor your priorities. For example, if health is important, you’ll open up your schedule and book times when you go to the gym. If work/life balance is key, you may want to sign off work by 5:00pm to eat dinner with your husband. If your faith is a non-negotiable, consider incorporating reading a devotional and journal during your morning routine. Perhaps you have a big project coming up, block off the time you will set aside to work on it. If it’s important, schedule it into your day and make it happen. You can also include things that you know occur regularly — like your weekly book club or taking a weekend off each month to visit your parents.

  2. How do you want to start your mornings? How do you want to end your evenings? 

    Mornings are a great time to create some routines. What are some ways you want to start your day on the right foot? Even if you’re super busy, what’s a little thing you can do for self-care? What’s realistic for you to incorporate but could make a big difference? A morning routine can be as simple as waking up, doing some meditation, eating breakfast, and reviewing your important tasks for the day.Evenings are the same way. What’s something that can help you wind down? How can you use this time to prepare for the next day? What’s something you can do for a little “me time”? Some ideas could be reflecting on how the day went and writing down what you’re doing tomorrow, picking out tomorrow’s outfit, or using some essential oils to wind down.

  3. Plan & Prepare for What’s Next What do you have on the horizon that you want to plan and prepare for? If you don’t have much, what’s something you would like to take initiative in creating in your life and work? The idea here is to be able to distinguish between what’s important and what’s urgent. Important tasks are things that create lasting value — ex. eating a healthy meal, marketing initiatives for your business, and finishing your continuing education courses. Urgent tasks are things that pop up that will help other people’s agendas. These come up that will require your immediate attention. Take care of these when you can.
  4. Notice Your Energy Levels & Plan Accordingly 

    Our energy levels rise and fall throughout the day. Notice when you have high energy to use on high energy activities and notice when you have low energy to rest and rejuvenate. For me, I have high energy in the morning that I like to save for projects like blogging, coaching calls, and creating content. I get a little sleepy around 3:00pm so I like to take a break or go on a walk. Noticing your rhythm can help you maximize efficiency on your energy. Also, when are you going to have some fun? When are you going to rest? Setting aside time for fun and rest is a great reward for getting work done and will help you refuel as well.

  5. Experiment & Reflect & Repeat 

    Habits take a while to form because rewiring your brain takes effort and time. Whenever you’re incorporating something new in your life, start small and be consistent. Try it for two weeks, then evaluate how it’s going. Do you like it? What’s working? What could make this even better? How can I be more accountable or create a reward for what I’m doing? If you miss a day, give yourself some grace and try again tomorrow. If you miss lots of days, give yourself some grace and try again tomorrow.

I hope this helps you find focus in how you spend your time. The best way to blend structure and flexibility into your schedule is to create a routine that allows you to be intentional with your time. When you’re intentional, you’ll get rid of any feelings of guilt or shame that say “Oh, but I should be doing….” because you’re planned ahead and given yourself permission to have dedicated times of work and play.

I would love to hear from you: what are some routines you’ve incorporated into your creative life?

Blessings, shi-signature