When it came to picking a major and a career in college, I too heard the well meaning advice “follow your passion.” It sounded like great advice – for someone who knew what they were passionate about.
I felt like everybody around me had it figured out (which I later realized was not necessarily the case). On the other hand, I felt lost. I didn’t even know where to begin figuring out what my passion was. So, I decided to concentrate instead on finding a job that would pay me well. Surely, this would make me happy, I thought. At the very least, it would give me the flexibility to afford a lifestyle I was passionate about (ha – I thought I was so clever).
Every job has aspects to it that you don’t love – right? Work is work – I couldn’t expect to love EVERYTHING about it. So I swept my uneasiness under the rug, and figured I’d get around to answering the “passion question” later.
But, as I realized a few years down the line, this question was unavoidable. So much of our lives are spent working. If you value your time, if you value your life, you have to enjoy what you do. You spend the majority of your waking life doing it. It isn’t worth it to work a job your heart isn’t in. It isn’t fulfilling.
Finally, I was forced to think about the question again: What am I passionate about? This time, I decided it was worthwhile to figure it out. After spending years researching and studying how other people learned to live fulfilling lives, I realized it was possible to design a lifestyle that was both deeply satisfying and full of passion and purpose.
Here are 4 tips to get you started:
- Start with your interests: You don’t have to start by knowing what you are passionate about. Just start with identifying your interests. What do you spend time doing when you have free time? What engages and excites you? If you’ve been so busy, you haven’t had any downtime in a while, think back to how you liked to spend your time when you were growing up. What feels like play to you? Think about the times in your childhood or your adulthood that you’ve lost track of time.
- Dig deeper – what attracts you to your interests?: There are the things, that we are interested in, and then there are reasons why we are drawn to those interests. What the heck do I mean? Let’s say you are in love with soccer. What is it that draws you to soccer? Do you enjoy being physically active and pushing your limits? Do you get satisfaction from working on a team? What is it about soccer that draws you to it? What are the underlying, concrete activities, that can be found within your interests? This is important to understand because during times of confusion, it can help you to course correct. In other words, your interests may change over time but understanding the motivation underneath those interests is helpful because the motivations tend to stay the same. For example you may be interested in “cooking” but in reality your motivation behind this could be that you enjoy “caregiving” or “creating something”. These are completely different things. It’s about figuring out the common thread beneath all of your interests.
- Drown out the noise and limiting beliefs: When you are figuring out what you are passionate about you have to stop listening to what society tells you you should be doing and start thinking about what you think you should doing. This is a lot easier said than done. Sometimes when we grow up we tend to discount the interests we had when we were younger because these interests may no longer seem “practical” or “possible” as we learn to “grow up” and face reality. Take a second to be honest with yourself about what you are purely interested in, despite what society has to say about it.
- Find a role model, someone who has done it before: Finding someone else who has accomplished what you are trying to accomplish is helpful in so many ways. Learning about their journey and best practices can help cut your learning curve in half. It can help you understand what challenges you could face and help you to be more resilient when you face these challenges yourself. These people may also be able to connect you to a community of people with similar interests. Plus, knowing that someone else has achieved the goals you are setting for yourself, helps you to be more hopeful and optimistic about your future.
Hope this is helpful. Leave me a comment if you have more questions about this topic or if you have any feedback!!