At the same women’s retreat that sparked the notion of The Whole Damn Pie, I was handed a hefty leather-bound Passion Planner and asked to imagine the best-case scenario for my life. Rather than planning for the week ahead, focusing on the barriers that stood in my way, or getting bogged down in the long list of action items on my plate, I was given the prompt:


“If I could be anything, do anything, have anything, what would it be?”


If you’ve read the first dispatch of our series, then you already know the punch line. What do I want? I want the whole damn pie. Not a slice of equity, not a pinch of balance, not the crust of opportunity. I want the whole pie, for me and for everyone.

The year was 2017, and surrounded by the kind of glass-ceiling-shattering women that have been told throughout our careers that we’re too bossy or too emotional, too bitchy or too nurturing, too soft or too tough to have the futures we desire, I put pen to paper and imagined an Amalia uninhibited by the boundaries others have projected upon me.

The exercise – which you can download for free on the Passion Planner website — asked me to write down what I imagined into a timeframe: 3 months, 1 year, 3 years, and Lifetime.

  • I started with my lifetime. I sought to leave a lasting legacy, to raise a great human, to defy the odds, and to make a difference in the lives of others.
  • Ok. But how?
  • A roadmap: A three year, one year, and three month roadmap to support my everyday decisions towards my legacy.
  • Within three months, I imagined things like starting an internship program, planning and saving for travel, and working on my sense of self-worth (lifelong journey).
  • Within a year, I pictured myself taking an emotional risk, doing a handstand in yoga class (still working on it), and making “doable” profits in my company.
  • Within three years, I imagined owning my own home and turning it into a sanctuary, paying for college (also, still working on it), and being happy with what I have.

Photo credit: Passion Planner

From there, we were asked to do the impossible: pick one. Within each timeframe, I circled the thing that would, as the exercise described, have “the MOST positive impact on my life,” and then sketched out a roadmap to turn it into a reality. Under the weeks and dates within the planner, I  wrote these priorities, milestones, and deadlines, giving them the critical space they needed to take root and grow.

And then, in an act of trust, I shared my passion plan aloud with the women around me, and they shared theirs with me. Through that weekend retreat, and in the months and years to come, we became passion cheerleaders and supporters of one another’s journeys.

Sometimes that’s all we need: a cheerleader, permission to do things differently, to put ourselves first, to take a chance, or to fail at a worthy cause.

We reached out to some of the cheerleaders in our network to hear how they’ve utilized the Passion Roadmap exercise to actualize their visions for the future.  Michele Frix – Chief Strategy Office at the Seattle Foundation – shared that:

“In a world where society is asking us to constantly be ‘on,’ intentional reflection and self-assessment is key. It’s not just about self-care, it’s about checking in with ourselves and tending to what matters most.

The Passion Planner framework and process has provided me with a consistent reminder to set goals, focus on top priorities, and engage in regular reflection.

As Adrienne Maree Brown said in the book Emergent Strategy, what we pay attention to grows. The Passion Planner helps organize what I pay attention to.”

Like Michele, giving my attention intentionally, prioritizing the things that will have the most positive impact on my life, carving out space in my days for the work that must be done to achieve them, and holding myself accountable by sharing these plans aloud, I’ve achieved more than I thought possible within the past four years.

International development strategist Radha Friedman shared that:

  • “The Passion Planner was, for me, an invitation to reintegrate the practice of daily journaling into what had become a rote and endless checklist. The list of tasks by my desk had been necessary to do my job, but empty of deeper meaning.
  • Every morning I would look at it with dread. Yes, I finished that report, sent that email, picked up groceries, but checking off a box on an endless list brought little satisfaction.
  • And then I met the Passion Planner. It was the fresh perspective I didn’t know I needed. It offered me a new way of designing my life so that my tasks had meaning, and were aligned to deeper goals.
  • I saw that if I wanted to meet my most important goals, I couldn’t do them all at once—I had to prioritize them. I focused on one game changer at a time, mapped out the steps, and every day started to feel like I was pointing true north again. Over the course of the year, I proposed to my wife, restored my health, and started my own business. The whole damn pie.”

We each have our own true north, and a planner is a personal thing, like a diary or journal. I’ve tried just about every type of planner I can get my hands on, from the simplistic and best that TJ Maxx has to offer, to complicated modular systems that require their own form of onboarding. Yet since 2017, I’ve stuck with the Passion Planner model, and continued doing visioning and planning in a community environment.

The Passion Planner describes itself as a tool “with structure for plans, blank pages for creativity, and room for reflection, [it] helps you identify your dreams and build toward them every day.” I describe it as a roadmap for planning my life, prioritizing my time, and meeting my legacy. Like Radha, the exercise helped me find and align with my true north.

Today, the legacy I want to leave has begun to direct my daily plans and choices. This process takes work, and a discipline to check in on my priorities every day, week, month, and year. But the results are a vocation defined, a long-view vision, and clarity in purpose.

Pandemic or not, these have not changed. Goals shift, visions grow, but through the waves of uncertainty I have felt grounded in what I will achieve with this life and purpose. I’m grateful that the passion planner, roadmap, and community of cheerleaders have helped me incorporate the whole damn pie into my daily decision-making.

If you’d like to learn more about the Passion Planner and roadmap activity, you can download the exercise for free from the Passion Planner website.

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