Noel Saunders

How To Find Your Life's Passion: With Noel Saunders

It can be easy to lose sight of our long term goals. Be it because we're building a business or raising a family, life can get in the way. Then when we finally notice that we've been neglecting our goals, we end up asking ourselves: what is my true passion?

Welcome to a new episode of The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast with my guest, Noel Saunders. Noel has a great life, a great job and a great wife, but there are some big changes coming his way, and he’s not totally clear on his life’s passion.

As I share with Noel, a great way to manage a huge change in your life is to start with a solid foundation, then build new routines and traditions. Those three things can help us stay grounded, and when we’re grounded, we don’t bring anxiety or fear to the table.

Another thing that I suggest to Noel is to look back at his life and try to remember what used to light him up. As he looks back, he can journal about those moments, what they meant to him, who he was with, what was happening, and then discover what those moments have in common. That way, he’ll be able to find his true passion.

Finding your passion

Today we’re going to talk about what to do when you don't know what your passion is in life. We’re also going to talk about how to rediscover a passion you might’ve lost along the way.

Before we dive in, let’s get one thing straight. It doesn’t matter how you ended up here. It’s possible you're in the midst of a tough situation — maybe you lost your job or went through a divorce. It’s also possible something incredible is happening, but it’s distancing you from things that previously defined you. 

And it’s also possible that nothing has outwardly changed, and that the emotions you’re grappling with “seem” normal — boredom, listlessness, apathy and a lack of inspiration in your daily life. Even if that’s the case, it’s a sign that you’re on the precipice of an emotional change you’re just beginning to understand. 

No matter what made you disconnect from your passions, the path back to them doesn’t change. No matter why you’re experiencing an upheaval, we’re going to use the same tools to discover what it is you really care about. Are you ready?

In order to help you rediscover your passion, we’re going to do a little history check. I want you to think about all the things you’ve done over the span of your life where you were completely, utterly engaged. Don’t tell me you’ve never had moments like these, because all of us have. Take a moment now to look back at the different events, projects, things and people you’ve been involved with where you felt lit up (even if only temporarily). What did those things make you feel, and how did it feel to feel them? 

To get you started, here’s some questions you can ask yourself to jog your memory:

  • What did I love doing most as a kid?
  • What sorts of things do I never have to be told to do?
  • What were my passions and hobbies in high school?
  • What did I excel at in the past?
  • When did I last get butterflies in my stomach from the prospect of something?
  • Who are some of my favorite people in my life, and why do I like them?
  • What subjects do I feel like an expert on?
  • When I dream of my “ideal” self, what am I doing?
  • What are some things I don’t want to lose sight of as I age?

These are just starter questions, but they’ll get you thinking about the things you automatically love. Stuff that excites you a priori, without you feeling like you “should” enjoy them. And, news flash: whatever these questions help you unearth, remember that your passions don’t have to be something grandiose or wild. 

There are people out there who could spend hours writing about guitar equipment. Others could spend half the day cooking a luxurious meal and not bat an eye. And still others could bike fifty miles and still be excited to exercise tomorrow. All of those things would bore me to death, but they’re someone else’s passion. 

Because that’s what a passion is: it’s just something you do. It’s the thing you naturally enjoy doing without having to think much about it. In fact, the reason so many of us lose sight of our passions as we age is because it becomes harder to pick out what we love from our ordinary daily behavior.  

lacking passion infographic

Creative flow

Another part of embracing your passion involves tapping into that sense of “creative flow” that people get when they’re immersed in a project. We touched on it briefly earlier, but the concept of creative flow involves being so immersed in a pursuit that you essentially enter another reality. That reality isn’t bound by the usual constraints we place upon ourselves: the fear of failure, the noticing of time passing, the anxieties of executing a project perfectly… the list goes on. 

A lot goes into creative flow that’s still being understood — there’s the notion of being surprised by oneself, the uncertainty of what’s being created even by the creator, and the instant, rapid recreation of meaning. Some of it starts to get a little precious, maybe, but it’s a great indicator of what you’re truly passionate about. 

Consider these questions the next time you’re trying to ascertain your passions: 

  • What could I lose sleep doing?
  • When was the last time I looked up at the clock and realized the whole day went by?
  • What do I get a little obsessive about?
  • What subject could I give an entire presentation on without having to prepare for?
  • When I’m procrastinating, what do I sneak away to do?

This is just another way to “history check” yourself into finding those existential bright spots that made you excited to be alive, present and engaged with your surroundings. Jot down your answers and start crucially assessing the connections you’re making with each one.

Finding your inner child 

A lot of these questions involve a similar theme: they force you to look back at a past version of you that was intimately connected to what you loved and enjoyed. In essence, they help you remember what it felt like to be a kid who was passionate about things. In fact, kids are probably better at being passionate than adults in most ways. 

Think about it: a kid doesn’t need to be told to do something because it’s impressive or lucrative. If a kid wants to study bugs, they study bugs. If a kid wants to play football, they’ll play football. And when they get bored, tired or disengaged with those things? They’ll find another passion to explore. There’s no self-judgment, nor is there a sense of failure for not committing to something. 

That’s how I’d like you to be. Really take stock, look back and start to track the commonalities in your life, and once you do you’ll start receiving answers you’ve never realized before. In fact, that’s where coaching comes in: a really great coach asks the right questions that help you understand your own history. They’ll help you uncover patterns that surface and help you gain clarity about your situation. 

Want more advice on how to navigate finding your passion? You’re in luck: I conducted a whole podcast episode on the subject. Give it a listen — and let me know if I’m able to help you work through your personal passion crisis.

Episode Transcript

[00:00:05] Kim Ades:
Hello, hello. My name is Kim Ades, I'm the President and Founder of Frame of Mind Coaching™ and you have just joined The Frame of Mind Coaching™ Podcast, where we invite leaders from all over the world to come onto the podcast and get coached live and in-person.  

Today, my guest is Noel Saunders and he comes to us straight from London, England. Noel, welcome. 

[00:00:26] Noel Saunders:
Thank you. It's good to be here. 

[00:00:29] Kim Ades:
So Noel, tell us a little bit about yourself. What are you up to? What's going on? What's happening in your world?  

[00:00:34] Noel Saunders:
You've actually caught me in the middle of a huge flux in my world right now. I literally just come back from a business meeting in London that I've been offered a role at a new company, like maybe, maybe two hours ago. So that's pretty awesome. It's been a crazy, crazy week.

[00:01:04] Kim Ades:
Okay, so you've been offered a role and that role means that you've got-- it's local? You have to take it here?  

[00:01:11] Noel Saunders:
It's lovely because it's digitally based, but it will be focusing in North America. So, we will be moving to North America. I'd say probably to the Los Angeles area, probably in January or February.  

[00:01:23] Kim Ades:
Okay. So what is happening? What is this role? Tell us a little bit about what you've been offered and whether or not you've agreed to take it, or if you're still kind of thinking about it.  

[00:01:33] Noel Saunders:
We're negotiating about different parts of it right now.  

[00:01:37] Kim Ades:

[00:01:38] Noel Saunders:
I've agreed in principle. It's to help a couple of boards that I help advise and this kind of thing, and it's just to help with growth, with one of them in a new region. So I'm sort of-- I don't want to share too many details until we've pinned everything down and I signed dotted lines. 

[00:01:56] Kim Ades:

[00:01:56] Noel Saunders:
But yeah, it's really all about growth and providing leadership and strategy in that area. So, it's really exciting and I'm just trying to process everything that we've had over the lunch meeting, but it's really exciting.  

[00:02:09] Kim Ades:
Okay, so you have this meeting and then you come into a conversation with Kim. Lucky you! 

[00:02:14] Noel Saunders:
Yeah, it's been crazy.  

[00:02:15] Kim Ades:
What is going on for you in terms of like, what are you contemplating? What are the challenges going on in your world right now? I know that you're about to move to another country. I don't know if you've ever lived in the United States, but it's probably radically different from England. So what's happening for you that you're kind of a little uneasy about, perhaps?  

[00:02:38] Noel Saunders:
I've lived in the US before. I lived in New York and Los Angeles. We will have many 20 years. However, the flip side is going to make me a little nervous and a little hesitant, is it's the first time we've moved to the US with a child. 

[00:02:57] Kim Ades:
How old is your child?  

[00:02:59] Noel Saunders:
She's old as five.  

[00:03:02] Kim Ades:

[00:03:02] Noel Saunders:
So it's a little disconcerting that-- you know, we have concerns about our daughter. You know, going to school in the United States and that kind of thing.  

[00:03:13] Kim Ades:

[00:03:13] Noel Saunders:
And then also it's a case of, you know, it's a massive upheaval. Like I said, I lived in Los Angeles for quite a while, but to flip and go back there after living back here in UK for about the last five or six years, it's a huge step. And especially on the back of a pandemic that, you know, everything's still quite unsure.  

One thing, you know, my wife and I very much into positive projection, and so we both put out there that we were to attend to California and Los Angeles, it will be on our terms.  

[00:03:45] Kim Ades:
What are your terms?  

[00:03:47] Noel Saunders:
Our terms is go back to both of us, that we were going over there to two jobs and to create would be Korea move specifically it would be for us to sort of, you know, achieve the things that we want to get from our life, both professionally and personally. 

And so it's been a case of really sort of constantly keeping that in mind while we're putting out if this is what we want to do with ourselves, and this is where we want to be. But also keeping in mind that we have a miniature version of ourselves that's on our coattails, that everything we do is going to impact that. 

[00:04:21] Kim Ades:
Okay. And what is the concern primarily? Are you concerned that you won't have enough time? Are you concerned that her English will sound funny compared to other kids? [Chuckles]  

[00:04:30] Noel Saunders:
That has been a conversation. That's definitely, definitely been a conversation. We have friends of ours that have lived here, Americans that live here in UK or vice versa, that have their kids over there. They all develop this weird hybrid accent, but they sound like they're-- everybody says it's from the same place as Madonna or Naomi Campbell, it's somewhere in the middle Atlantic.  

So, you know, we have concerns about that. We know for our daughter, for her blood family, that's here in the UK, she will grow up very, very differently. And we know that there will probably be a bit of a disconnect between her and her cousins, because it's just on a cultural level, you know, she's going to be growing up in Los Angeles and in Hollywood and that kind of thing. And so it's just been a little different for her. 

[00:05:21] Kim Ades:
Let me ask you a question. Have you made a decision to move permanently or is it temporary?  

[00:05:29] Noel Saunders:
It's... we're selling our house. So I'm pretty sure this is going to be permanent because you know, we have discussed issues with our daughter and this kind of thing with child psychiatrists and child development specialists and they let you can do what you need to do until she's about 10 or 11, and then you can't mess around with her education and moving around too much because it'll be too much of an impact on her.  

So we were like, we have to do it now, we have to be brave and move forward. And so, it would be... moving to California would be for-- if we didn't come back within the next six years, then it's going to be-- we'll be there for the next 15, at least. 

[00:06:09] Kim Ades:

[00:06:10] Noel Saunders:
So, pretty permanent.  

[00:06:11] Kim Ades:
So, let me ask you a question. I know that things probably just changed today before you came onto the call, 'cause I think our conversation was going to be about what you do next and finding your passion, but you have a coach on the line. Is there something specific that you want to talk about?  

Is it the question of "how do we raise our daughter in the US? Given the fact that our families in the UK, like, how do we make the best of this? How do we turn this into a massive opportunity and keep her grounded?" Like, what's the question on the table? Or is it "how do we, you know, my wife's going off to an incredible adventure and how do we stay grounded?" like, what's the question on the table?  

[00:06:52] Noel Saunders:
So for me, I think it's how... Two things. You know, I'm on heading towards being on the other side of 50 and I still haven't been able to find my passion in life. I don't know what it is. I have things that I'm passionate about, but I don't know what my passion is. I know the things I love doing and I like to do with my job, but I'm always envious of people that find that like, "my job is my passion and my passion is my job". And I've not really had that 100%.  

And then I think also for us, it's a case of how are we going to manage this massive change and upheaval? I think moving to the States, it's a choice that we've made as far as we have a very extensive network of friends that are over there. And they're obviously a big part, an important part of our life, and one of the key parts of the decision for us was that we wanted to be able to write our daughter a circle of role models that she would feel empowered by. 

And so with my wife and I, as friends that are in California, we have directors, producers, actors, comedians, Oscar-winning sound techs. You know, you name it, these women are very, very successful, powerful, well-placed people for her to be able to be around and look up to. We thought that would be something fantastic that we can provide for her. 

And specifically for my wife's professional growth, it's the place that she needs to be as a creative performer, is where people encourage her to write and that kind of thing. 

[00:08:35] Kim Ades:
Okay, so there are two things on the table. One is "how do we go there and manage the change?" And the other question is what do you do with your life? Those are two very different questions. Let's do one at a time. How's that? 

[00:08:48] Noel Saunders:
Sure. That works for me.  

[00:08:49] Kim Ades:
Okay. And we might need to have more conversations, but we'll start here. First of all, you know, the language that you're using is fascinating. And the language you use is "a massive change and upheaval". Sounds pretty stressful to me. Right? And the truth is, and I'll ask you this question, how do you live your life now? Like, your daughter goes to some kind of school? What happens? She comes home, then what? Like, what's the routine that you have at home?  

[00:09:19] Noel Saunders:
So yeah, we got to pick her up from school in the case of what's going on with my wife and I right now. You know, while she's in California, I'm going to be a single parent family here in London and looking after her. 

So, you know, I'd pick her up from school, she comes home, we spend time together. You know, she fills me in on her day, explains what she's done. And of course she's five, so it's snacks. she's like Pac-Man, she just doesn't stop. And then we sit, you know, like I say, we have a catch up, but then also we give her some personal time, which is also for me as well, I think.  

You know, she's rationed, like most kids all to screen time, she's allowed like one hour with her iPad, or she can have the TV on. We give her the choice of what she wants to do and most of the times iPad. And then, you know, I'll start cooking dinner, but then part of the routine that I do with her is while I cook dinner, then she shares that experience with me.  

Like, I'll cut up the broccoli and she'll load the broccoli into the steamer and I'll show her how to cook the fish and that kind of thing, and how boiling pasta works and that kind of stuff. And then, obviously, she eats dinner and then we'll have a whole hour or so where she can wind down before bedtime. And then it's bedtime.  

[00:10:35] Kim Ades:
So, you sound like an amazing parent, by the way, so I love what you just described to me. But that doesn't have to change when you come to the States, right? You have a pattern, you have a routine, and as long as you have a pattern or routine, there doesn't need to be a massive upheaval. Right? 

[00:10:50] Noel Saunders:
No, exactly.  

[00:10:51] Kim Ades:
So, what you're doing is you're creating a very solid foundation for your family. And as long as that foundation is in place, and it sounds like it really is, I'm very impressed, by the way... Then the location you're at doesn't have to rattle you. It doesn't have to create this feeling of massive upheaval or change, okay?  

So to me, there's a few things: routine, foundation, and I love the word traditions. The more you install traditions, whether they are from your experiences in the UK, the things you're bringing along from your family, from your upbringing, but they are part of the way you operate, whether it's Friday night dinners or Sunday evening whatever, some kind of ritual that you can implement that says "we do these things no matter where we are", that creates safety, solidity, togetherness. Right? And that's very, very important for you.  

So I'm not all that worried about it. I am concerned about, again, the feeling for you of massive change, massive upheaval. If we can think about it a little differently, if we can say "actually, we have a great starting point, we have a great foundation, we're just taking ourselves somewhere else, our environment changes, but we don't have to necessarily change", then things get calmer, they get more relaxed, they get more stable.  

And so, it's important for you not to bring your let's call it anxiety or fears or worries to the table and to say "you know what? I'm actually quite grounded, and so as our family and the way we operate, very grounded and we're bringing that grounding to a new place". And so that's thought number one. Curious, how are you reacting to that?  

[00:12:45] Noel Saunders:
Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, my wife and I are very big on tradition. Like, every Friday night is pizza night and that's one of the things is, selecting a new property to purchase in California, is my wife made a good point, is we're going to find a place that has a pizza oven built-in in the yard, because she wants to do pizza oven because LA has the weather, but you can do almost year round. And so that every Friday night is when we do pizza, we make pizzas, the pizzas are done, and we're developing our own traditions. 

We have been since our daughter was born. Every birthday morning she has like lox and bagels and that's the New York side of my wife and I coming in. And, you know, there's all certain things that, you know, we teach our daughter to be adventurous with food and cuisine and...  

[00:13:30] Kim Ades:
Amazing. Yeah.  

[00:13:31] Noel Saunders:
We have a five-year-old that eats (...). So, you know, we think we're doing okay on that one.  

[00:13:35] Kim Ades:
I think you're doing fantastic and I totally appreciate lox and bagels, not just on birthdays. But anyway. [Chuckles] Okay, so I think you have that covered and I think what you have to make sure of is you're looking at your own language and say "what is the language due to the experience? Does it heighten the stress or does it lower the stress? Does it cause calm and relaxation and a feeling of 'I got this'? Or does it feel a little panicky?"  

And to me, like, the language that you're using isn't consistent with the way you operate currently in your home. And so you want to just watch yourself, because there's a mismatch between the way you're thinking about this move and the way you actually operate. And you want to kind of align yourself on that front. You're already doing super well. Just know that you just need to bring that to the new location.  

[00:14:30] Noel Saunders:
I was gonna say within our relationship, you know, our family motto that we created for ourselves is "we'll figure". That's how we've always operated and that's what we do with our relationship and then the relationship with our daughter and our place as a family, it's just like, "we'll figure it out. Whatever's going to happen, what's coming our way, we'll figure it out".  

And you know, and I think sometimes you have to be quite careful, I think, about the language that you use because sometimes I'll just use it without realizing that it can be quite... it could be wrong of it sometimes. And you know, there's a quote from Bruce Lee that's like "be careful when talking about yourself because your body doesn't know the difference". So your spirit doesn't know the difference between harsh words and kind words, and that's why they call it spelling.  

[00:15:25] Kim Ades:
Yeah. In your case, like a lot of people I talked to have kind of thinking that creates behaviors that lead to outcomes that they don't want. In your case, you have behaviors and thinking that do create outcomes you're looking for, but you have language that clashes with your essence, and that creates a disconnect for you, that creates uneasiness. And that's the issue that you need to address with respect to the move and the change and the new environment.  

But let's talk a little bit about this whole issue of your purpose and your passion. And so, one of the things that I like to do with clients like you is kind of do a little bit of a history check and we would have really have to talk for a lot longer to get into the details of what that looks like.  

But in the span of your life, you know, you said " I'm almost on the other side of 50", if you look at the span of your life, you have had moments of complete and utter engagement. I'm betting that you have. The issue is that you haven't taken notice or you haven't taken stock, you haven't captured that and said "when are the moments that I have been completely and utterly engaged? And what do those things have in common?  

So if I look back at the string of my life and I look at the events, the projects, the things that I've been involved with, where I've been feeling lit up even temporarily, even for a day, even for a week, what were those things and what did they have in common and who was I in those moments? What skills did I bring to the table? Who was I involved with? What were the conversations we were having?"  

And so for you, it's about really taking stock, looking back and starting to track those commonalities because in that information, in that data provides you with answers you've never noticed before, you've never realized before. And that's where coaching comes into play. A really great coach asks the right question to understand that history and find the patterns that surface and say "oh, well, here it is. It's very clear. Here's where you are when you're lit up".  

And it may be, and I don't know, that you're actually far more engaged and far more passionate than you think and we don't know. And so for you, the exercise is... I love to encourage people to journal, but the exercise is to go back and say "what was I doing when I was 20? What was I involved with? What were the projects?" Like, look back.  

Even in high school! "What was I doing in high school that totally lit me up?" And go through your years, go through your history and do a little bit of remembering about your state at the time.  

[00:18:28] Noel Saunders:
I think that makes sense, yeah. Yeah, I've not taken time to sort of take stock.  

[00:18:37] Kim Ades:
You need to take stock, yeah. And write it down, like a timeline. "I loved this, loved this project, loved this team, loved who I was talking to, loved what I was working on, loved my role here, but it was short and it ended". And so, then the question becomes like, why are some things short and why do some things end? Why is there that change? What caused the change? Why wasn't there a longer-term involvement or engagement?  

What you're really doing right now is data collection to examine what's working, what has worked and why did things come to a change? Why did they end? And we want to start to examine not only the moments that you're super engaged and excited, but what creates a turn for you where you stop being engaged and excited, because that's informative too. So we need that information.  

And so for you right now, the coaching advice is to really look back in your history and make notes. Start to observe yourself from a third-party perspective and say you know, "if I were to look back at my life, if I were to look back at myself as though I was the adult and that person was the kid, what would I notice? What would I see? What would the patterns be? What would emerge?"  

And what you'll see is absolutely some kind of information that says "ah, this is what I loved and this is where things went awry. And that information tells me what perhaps I should be doing next or where I should be leaning towards or what I should continue to be involved with".  

[00:20:25] Noel Saunders:
I think that makes sense. I've never spent time to take a look at that and think what really floated my boat at this particular point in my career or this particular point at university or that kind of thing. I know the things I like when I'm working and that I do enjoy. I mean, it's not no good to say that I don't like anything about working, but there are some things I really do enjoy. And obviously find those.  

And even while you're talking about it, and my I'm thinking very quickly back. I'm like, "well, I like that because, and because, because", and there is a thread, there is a thread that goes through. So it's a case of just making sure that's right. I think for me is, you know, more... a bit thicker.  

[00:21:06] Kim Ades:
Exactly, exactly. Made a bit more obvious, you're shedding light on it. Amazing. Noel, you know what? I want to tell you this. Like, in the span of my career, I've noticed what has lit me up. One of the things that lights me up is being able to talk to people like you and just have these conversations. And I don't know if you sense that, like, I just feel a feeling of enthusiasm and total engagement. 

[00:21:29] Noel Saunders:

[00:21:29] Kim Ades:
And I've made it a mission of mine to really, really focus on those things that I love and eliminate as much as possible the things that I just don't love. And it's the way that I operate, and I get people around me to support me in the things that are not my sweet spot, not the things that I absolutely love. 

But for those of you who are listening, I am sure that you have experienced some moments of transition where you feel like you're about to go into a massive upheaval, and I want you to think about how you go into those massive upheavals with a sense of grounding, with a sense of foundation and being able to take some of your traditions, some of your habits, some of your... the things that you do on a regular basis into your new world. So think about it like that.  

And the second thing is that if you're wondering "what is my passion? What am I supposed to be doing in this world?" Look back at your history. Look back at the moments where you were lit up and start to take notice, use your journal and start to analyze where you were lit up, what you were doing, who you were doing it with, what your role was, what you were talking about and start to pay attention to those threads. The word thread is a great word.  

But thank you Noel, for being my guest on today's podcast. For those of you who are listening, please like and share, we always like your feedback as well. Send me an email! Tell me what you think, tell me what your passion is. My email is

And if you are interested in being a guest on the podcast and would like to share one of your challenges, reach out to me as well. Once again, my email address is  

Noel, thank you so much. 

[00:23:19] Noel Saunders:
Thank you. It's been interesting.

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