How To Find Your Passion
Passion is that reason we get up in the morning. It’s a driving force that keeps us going. It’s that one thing or set of things that give us a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It’s what makes us happy.
Some of us are lucky enough to know our passion or “calling” from the age of 5. But some of us haven’t the faintest clue what our passion is. We’ve all heard the sayings, “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and “Do what you love and the money will come”. But… What the hell do I love??
I think part of the problem is the way society has shaped our mindset:
- Society has a way of time-pressuring us to choose a career as if there is some kind of deadline by which we must decide.
- We must also choose a “viable” career that awards us with a satisfying income (try being 18 and telling your parents you want to be a professional clown).
- We also want to be happy so we don’t want to be stuck doing something we hate.
There is so much to consider and it creates an anxiety built on fear of making the wrong decision or of wasting our lives. I think it is this pressure that makes it so difficult for many of us to find our passion(s).
So I think the first step to finding one’s passion is changing one’s mindset to get rid of this pressure. After that, it’s a matter of being honest with oneself to figure out what one is curious or enthused about and then experimenting with different things.
This fantastic video by Evan Carmichael covers much of what I discuss:
In order to open ourselves up to finding our passion, it’s really important to get rid of all the pressure and decision anxiety that surrounds choosing what we want to do. Here are a few things to remember:
- There is no deadline
Patience is one of the most essential and liberating qualities one can possess. Time is really a social construct. “Social construct” may sound cliche. But time is just how we measure the changes and cycles of our environment, allowing us to track those changes and to coordinate with each other. There is no universal law stating that certain things must be done within certain time frames. The most important thing is consistency. If we simply work on our passions everyday, we will get to where we want to be. There is no need to pressure ourselves, creating anxiety by thinking that if we don’t know our passion by age 25 then we’re doomed. Not so.
- There’s no wrong choice.
The only criterion for passion is that we love it! So there really is no such thing as a wrong choice of passion. The only way it can be ‘wrong’ is if we don’t end up liking it, in which case we simply try something else we might like. So don’t refuse to try something because of the potential of disliking it. You’ll never know until you try. If you don’t like it, try another thing. No pressure.
- You never have to be stuck.
The idea that we can get “stuck” removes our agency; it gives the impression that we don’t have the power of choice. But remember that we are in charge of our own lives. We do have the capacity to decide. So if we are doing something we don’t like, there is a simple solution – do something else. You never need to be stuck. I know, there is a negative stigma surrounding the act of jumping from one thing to the next. But, as a matter of fact, the broader our experience, the wiser we become and the more skills we will have at our disposal to incorporate into learning or doing other things. So changing course is a good thing – we become wiser and we are a step closer to figuring out the things we love to do.
Find What You Love
First, I’d like to make a case for why we should choose careers/jobs/lifestyles based on what we love and not on how much money or material things or status we think we’ll acquire. The thing is that people who do what they love are usually far more successful than people who do something they hate (or simply tolerate) only for money. The reason is that being successful or making lots of money is hard. It requires a monomaniacal focus and perseverance when things get difficult. If one is not passionate about what they are doing, then when the job gets stressful, either they become unhappy and demotivated and are therefore less productive or they quit because it’s not worth putting out so much effort to do something they don’t like. This is why people who are passionate about what they do outperform those who are not. They are more driven and more consistent. Would you not rather put in hard work for something you love than for something you dislike?
So figuring out what you really love and doing that is extremely rewarding – emotionally, financially, everything-ly. So then… how does one figure out what one loves?
Passion exists in the intersection of multiple things that you’re curious about.
To find things we love to do, we must do some introspection. We must determine the things about which we are curious. We must explore things which intrigue us.
Go through the following thought exercise:
Imagine that you were magically given enough money to never need to have a job for the rest of your life. And that you had all the time in the world. Then ask yourself the following questions (don’t hold yourself back – be as realistic or as unrealistic as you desire):
- What would I spend my time doing?
- What’s a problem I’d love to solve in the world?
- What am I pretty good at and would love to get better at?
- What have I always been curious about?
- What are three things I tried and really enjoyed and would love to do more?
- What intrigues me?
Merge all those answers into a list. Hunt for overlaps in the answers you give to different questions. Also try creating new things by trying to find intersections between two or more different potential passions.
Try not to spend too much time overthinking this. The list doesn’t need to be perfect. You just need some things to explore.
Now that you have a list, it’s important to remember that you’ll never truly find your calling by just thinking about it. As millionaire entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk always says, you’ll never gain muscle by thinking about pushups. You must do pushups.
Similarly, you’ll probably never know what you love doing by thinking about the options. Thinking is a step in the right direction but the only way you’ll know is if you try it.
So after you’ve gone through the previous questions and created a list of possible things to explore, it’s time to go ahead and start exploring. Keep in mind the three points from the No Pressure section – there’s no deadline, there’s no wrong choice and you can never really be stuck. So, take a deep breath and begin exploring the first thing on the list (or the thing that you’re most intrigued by).
Watch, read, listen to content that surrounds this passion to get more familiar with it and see if this further piques your interest. Find people who are doing similar things. Listen to their stories, seek advice, join a community. Create a dreamline surrounding that potential passion. Work at getting better at it everyday. Look at the end goal from your dreamline everyday and let it motivate you.
If, at any point on your journey, you find that you don’t enjoy it, that’s okay. Tweak it to weed out the aspects you don’t enjoy. Or change altogether and move on to the next potential passion on the list. Or create a new passion, taking what you’ve learned from trying this one. Nothing teaches us more about ourselves than new experiences. So the more we try, the closer we’ll get to realizing our passions.
Here’s some great tactical advice that Gary Vaynerchuck gave to a young man wanting to find his passion:
So let’s change our mindsets to eliminate the pressure and anxiety that society has placed on us. Let’s introspect and figure out what we might love. And most importantly, let’s explore and experiment with different things, gain a breadth of experiences and eventually converge to our raisons d’être.
May you live a passion filled life.