How to Fan a Spark into a Fire

Photo Credit: Vecchia Betty/Flickr

There’s a climactic moment in the movie Castaway where Tom Hanks, who has been shipwrecked on a desert island, finally creates the one thing that can provide him with a means for survival: FIRE.

The pure ecstasy that fills him as he dances around the beach, screaming like a kid who just won the big game, is palpable. Just when things were looking so grim, he found that one spark. Enough to fan into a raging fire. And that was enough to give him hope.

When people are passionate, we often say they have a “fire in the belly” or that they’re “firing on all cylinders.” Fire is full of energy and heat. It’s what we all want to feel inside—a sense of passion for what we do and what we stand for.

Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy to find. I often work with people to help them develop a career road map, and one of the biggest obstacles to success (both personally and professionally) is that they don’t have any idea what they’re passionate about.  

So we have to back up a bit and look for the tiny sparks. We then have to go through a process of experimentation, fanning the sparks to see which ones die out and which ones catch and turn into raging fires.

For those of you who might be looking for ways to find your passion, here are a few of the steps involved with this process:

Go Full Force

A fire isn’t a timid thing and you shouldn’t be either. Get in there and try new things. But don’t just dip your toe in the water; dive in. Soak in it. Give it 100% and then a little bit more. It’s the same principle as language emersion. When people really want to learn a new language, they travel to an area where that’s the primary language spoken and they banish the use of their native language. Eventually, they even start dreaming in the new language.

Make the Commitment
You don’t have to pick up and move to a foreign country today, but you do have to make some kind of commitment. Whenever you try something new, there’s a learning curve. Once you dive in, you’ve got to stay long enough to get used to the temperature of the water. Establish a period of time that you will commit to learning and doing this new thing as a way of testing out your passion for it. If, after that period of time has passed, you’re ready to give up on it, let that spark die a natural death and turn your attention to others.

Make Adjustments and Hone In
Sometimes, a spark will lead you in a different direction that you initially thought it would. For example, a few years ago, I was interested in starting a yoga practice. I went to a few classes at my local gym and it didn’t really do much for me. I was ready to give up on yoga when a friend suggested that I try Bikram yoga, which is done in a very hot room. At first, I thought, “Not a chance.” But she convinced me and I was immediately hooked. The spark I had felt for the idea of yoga exploded into a flame. Five years later, it’s still burning strong.

Passion is what drives us forward in life. Without it, we feel empty and cold. With it, we feel energized and full of fire. Too often, we make the mistake of thinking that passion just appears. For a lucky few, it does. For the rest of us, we have to create sparks and fan them, gently and over time, until they burst into powerful, glorious flames.

Bio: Chrissy Scivicque is a writer, nutritionist and career coach. She trains others to manage their career path with a holistic point-of-view. You can find her at, a blog dedicated to helping you create a nourishing professional life. Stop by and pick up your FREE mini-workbook to find out just how nourishing your career really is and how you can make it even more so.

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