New Year Inspiration: How to Follow Your Passions and Reach Your Goals

Princess Grace had many interests, including dance, acting, and art. She also had a pragmatic side that enabled her to turn things she loved into full-time pursuits.

By the age of 18, Grace was financially secure (thanks to lucrative modeling and television gigs) and put herself through the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. That education and experience set her on a path to a storied Hollywood career with roles in iconic films, like To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, and Country Girl, the latter of which earned her an Oscar for Best Actress.

Once Princess Grace married Prince Rainier III and moved to Monaco, she turned her attention to dance by starting the Princess Grace Ballet Academy in Monte Carlo, which offered training and performance opportunities to young dancers. She also pursued her love of art by dabbling in pressed floral collages, often finding inspiration in the flora right outside the Palace. In 1977, a selection of her work was exhibited in Paris at the Galerie Drouant, and in 1980, she published My Book of Flowers, which showcased her botanical collages.

So, how can you model Princess Grace and turn a passion into a true pursuit? “The most important thing is to start,” says Tracey Pontarelli, a marketing, mindset, and lifestyle coach in New York City. You don't have to say, I'm quitting my day job to become a full-time stand-up comic.” But you can begin with baby steps and start writing a humorous Substack, commit to a weekly open-mic event—or post funny bits on Instagram or TikTok. Princess Grace didn’t set out to publish a book of her collages. She began collecting flowers, pressing them into art as a pastime—and it blossomed into more. 

Then, once you’ve taken that first step, these strategies can help you stay the course:  

Embrace the journey

“The goal is to find joy in the in-between—the pursuit of the passion” says Pontarelli. Princess Grace received a number of accolades during her acting career, but some of her happiest, most fulfilling days as a performer were early on, when she was still a student and an emerging actress. The goal of chasing your passion should not be to reach one specific destination; it should be the privilege of being able to dabble in what you love on a regular basis. 

Accept uncertainty

The only thing that’s certain in life: uncertainty. And pursuing a passion can be a roller coaster, filled with doubt, disappointment, and revised plans. So, be prepared to accept that as part of the package. Pontarelli also says it’s important to keep in mind that we go through seasons of life, not unlike nature. And when winter seems to be dragging on…hold on. “Eventually, spring— and success, even if it doesn’t look like you originally thought—arrives,” she says.

Create space in your day

To pursue a passion, you need to make time for it in your schedule. That means literally putting it on the calendar, daily or weekly (just make sure it’s routinely). To go from imagining to realizing a dream, you must do the work, says Pontarelli. 

Write about it

Even if writing isn’t the passion you are pursuing, spending time every day journaling for a few minutes can help you focus on your pursuit—and spark inspiration, says Pontarelli. “By reviewing what you want/or your ultimate goal each day, you’ll wire your brain to figure out how to get it,” she says. “And you can prompt your daily writing with questions like What are your goals for today? What baby step are you going to take this week? Or something deeper, like What stories am I telling myself? or What expectation is it time to let go?” Doing the writing first thing in the morning will also ensure you don’t skip it— so create a ritual. Pour a cup of coffee, light a candle, settle in somewhere comfortable, and give yourself fifteen minutes to write. 

Talk to people you admire

Find people you respect, who have turned passions into professions or robust side gigs, and ask them what their advice is. But don’t confuse inspiration with comparison. “Sometimes the blueprints of other people’s success can be useful—but avoid comparing yourself to them,” says Pontarelli. “You're never going to follow someone else's path exactly. But you can do your version of that path.”

Get an accountability buddy

“Find someone you can talk to—a friend, a family member, a colleague—who you can check in with weekly to keep on track,” says Pontarelli. “They will function as a sounding board, and they hold you accountable.”

Live actively

“When people say they can't control their lives, they're telling themselves a story. You have choices. And you can always do something to move your life forward, in the direction of your dream, even if it’s a baby step,” says Pontarelli. So, your job is to figure out what that is—then take that first step. Take a page from Princess Grace’s playbook, and don’t wait for life (or your passions) to come to you.