Finding your passion can feel like a lifelong quest! Do you remember being a child, and being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We all had such clear, fixed answers to that question, didn’t we?
We dreamed of being presidents and astronauts, of making a difference in the world. Personally, I always imagined myself as a computer engineer. My inspiration included people like Steve Jobs. I loved programming, and I dreamed of creating something that would leave a legacy in the world.
Thinking of our passions with a young heart
As kids, we had such clear ideas about what we wanted to be. We knew what we enjoyed, what we felt drawn to, and what inspired us. As we grow older, though, a lot of us seem to lose that clarity.
Life gets in the way. We get caught up in the stresses of day-to-day life and lose sight of what really speaks to our soul. Ask an adult what he loves doing, what his passion is, and more often than not you’re probably going to hear “I don’t know.”
“How do I find my true passion,” is a question that many adults seem to struggle with.
Yet, it’s a question that’s never been more important than it is today. In the world we grew up in, passion was secondary to stability and safety. We were trained in school to follow the rules and do what we were told.
Finding your passion is more important than ever before
Life taught us to be a cog in a machine. We were told that if we showed up, and did what was expected, then we would collect our paychecks and live a secure life.
However, the world has changed. Today, that’s no longer enough. Those safe jobs that we were trained to do are becoming rarer. They’re getting outsourced and automated.
Those “good”, “normal,” and “safe” jobs are disappearing. What’s left is being underpaid or working jobs we dislike. For some though, they find great jobs they connect with and that give them a sense of meaning.
That’s what we should all be aiming for. To have a life where we’re excited to wake up in the morning and live and love each day fully. The key to having that life is passion.
Remember to also check out our collection of quotes on passion that will help you find your place in life.
Here are 3 simple steps to help find your passion
Now that you remember what it felt like to be fueled with passion, and understand why it matters, it is time to discover yours! It can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, but don’t worry these steps will help!
Step 1: Self-reflection and discovery
We all have things we are passionate about – things we love doing, and excite and energize us. The problem is we just don’t notice them. We ignore those passions because we feel like they’re not “productive” enough. Or we’re too caught up in our day-to-day life to really notice the little moments of joy and meaning that we have.
So, the first step is to just take some time and reflect. Set aside an hour or two, and sit down with a piece of paper. Here are some questions to ask yourself, to help guide your self-discovery.
- What are some things you really want to do before you die (aka your bucket list)?
- Who are the people you admire the most – and what do you admire most about them (it’s probably not everything about them)?
- Which activities did you do in the past week that you enjoyed, and want to do more of?
- What did you do in the past week that you hated doing, and want less of in your life?
- Describe your ideal, perfect day. What are you spending that day doing? Where are you at? How does it feel?
Write these answers out on paper. It helps to make it concrete and take it out of your thoughts into the real world.
It can also be useful to ask your friends and family for their thoughts on you. What do they imagine you doing? How would they describe your strengths? What are the first adjectives they think of when they think of you?
Once you’ve written out all these lists, look for trends. Remember, your passion doesn’t have to be a specific topic, such as “Physics.” It can be a broad field, such as creating or learning. This should give you an idea of what direction to head in.
Step 2: Take a step in that direction
Realizing what direction you want to head doesn’t matter if you’re not going to walk down that path. Once you have that direction, the next step is then to actually take action. As a kid, it was easy for us to find things we loved doing, because we tried so many different things.
We weren’t afraid that it would end up being a waste of time. Our thoughts were not consumed with what we’d get out of it. We weren’t concerned about whether we’d be good at it, or if we’d embarrass ourselves. We just tried. And if it didn’t work – if we didn’t do it well, or if we didn’t enjoy it as much as we thought we would – we moved on.
That willingness to try new things gets lost as we grow older. In order to find your true passion, you need to overcome your fears (of wasting time, embarrassing yourself, or not being good at it) and just dive in. The only way to find out how you truly feel about something is to try. So sign up for a course or join a club. Get out there, and do it.
Step 3: Reflect, calibrate, and repeat
Sometimes, you might not enjoy something as much as you thought you would. Perhaps after you try it, you’ll realize it’s not true for you. And that’s perfectly okay. All that means is that you now have an even clearer idea of what works (and what doesn’t work) for you.
Reflect on what you didn’t enjoy about the experience and why that wasn’t right for you. You’ll have an even more focused direction. And repeat the process. Find something in that new, focused direction, and dive into it.
Pretty soon you’ll have a completely clear idea of what you love doing.
And here’s the good news. It’s never been easier to make a career from your passion.
There are more opportunities than ever – more ways to establish yourself, connect with the right people, to learn the right skills. All you have to do is find your passion, and take small steps in that direction.
And remember, it’s never too late to start pursuing your passions.