You’ve heard the stories before: an inventor and entrepreneur starts a project, working diligently in the wee hours of night — long after logging a full 9 to 5 for the day — to build a new product and launch a company to call their own.

Companies like Apple and Amazon have been said to mark their beginnings like this, building from the ground up in the garage.

If businesses start in the garage, perhaps nonprofits start in the kitchen.

Here I was, in the kitchen, working shortly past midnight to prep for our fundraiser event for the Positive Every Day Cancer Foundation, Inc. (This is a dangerous thing for me to do, by the way. I have a 16-month-old daughter who is often up by 5 a.m.!)

But, it got me to thinking: is this how they all start?

Everyone who is a part of our foundation has a full-time job beyond also juggling other day-to-day aspects of life while launching our organization. Everyone is busy. Busy, busy, busy.

But none of us are too busy to not take care of something that now doesn’t feel like work to us but instead just feels like something that matters.

This must be how many nonprofits start — a group of people, sharing a passion for a cause and a determination to make an impact.

How do you find your passion and your purpose? Ours was dumped on us by my 3-year-old nephew’s diagnosis with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma. Learn more about our start in my original post about our organization. (side note: Raiden, my nephew, recently passed his first 3 month scan with flying colors — still cancer free!)

I’ve talked to others who’ve found themselves inspired similarly: through a personal, traumatic situation that made them want to shape good into the situation for others. Others, simply inspired by a love for something or a strongly felt need for change.

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    How do you find what fuels you? Here’s 3 tips on purpose to give you some food-for-thought on finding a purpose or passion in your life.

    1. Reflect on the times in your life when you’ve felt energized. At the end of the day, you’re bound to feel exhausted. A lot can happen in our 16-plus hours of being awake. But there are probably certain activities that leave you feeling more relaxed than others, that make you think, “Yeah, I could wake up and do that again.” These are activities that I’d consider energizing, because it’s not something that’s causing you to feel deflated.
    2. Think about the activities you do that you will always find a way to do, no matter what. It’s not about the money and it’s not about the “to-do” list. When it’s something you just do because you want to, it doesn’t have to be done save for the fact that you want it to be done — that you’ll be sad when it isn’t … then it’s something that you really want in your life. It’s a passion.
    3. Get emotional. If it brings you to tears or makes you burst with anger, is it something you want to change? If it makes you smile uncontrollably, is it something you want to fuse into your life every day? Is it a joy you can share with other people? Connecting with the things that fuel your emotions will help you realize possible pockets of personal impact.

    A final word of advice

    Remember, it’s the little things that count. Not everyone that has a purpose or a passion is going to turn it into a business or nonprofit. Maybe it’s simply sharing this with a single friend or family member. Maybe you’re making sure to include your passion in your life daily, because it inevitably helps you to be a happier person, which is better for all the people around you. Even by finding simple ways to live out your passion, you’re choosing to add purpose to your life.