I don't think many of us have trouble recognizing passion. It's what gives us purpose, makes us lose track of time and what we can't stop telling everyone we know about. I guess what I’m saying is it’s a bit like love. When you’re in love with someone, you know it.
But the idea of following our passion to achieve happiness is something that's omnipresent and misleading. The notion that passion is going to fall out of the sky and hit us like some sort of epiphany is sexy, but there’s no proof it works that way. You have to put in work to find out what truly excites you. Merely following your passion is bad advice. Perhaps even terrible advice. It's why Holstee suggests you share your passion instead.
But finding the one thing you’re passionate about can be difficult. If you're not sure what your passion is, how do you go about finding out? How do you find it amongst seemingly endless options? I'm not sure there's any right way and I'm still figuring it out, but here are some things you can do that I've found to be helpful.
Try New Things
- The best piece of advice I've ever gotten from a friend when I didn’t know what I wanted to do next was "Pick one thing and try it. See how it goes." One thing isn't overwhelming. One thing is manageable. You can easily think of one thing you'd like to know more about.
- Forget taking career tests and personality profiles. Try one thing you might like and see where it takes you. You might not like it as much as you thought. That's fine - you can move on to something else and at least now you know. If it's hooking you in, dig deeper. Passion doesn't miraculously find us. By learning and doing, we cultivate it.
- I don't think anyone has time to try all the things. We're not going to live be seven hundred and it would probably be exhausting if we did. But you can embrace mortality by being selective. You might already recognize a theme that's attractive to you and cull a short list of work in that area to check out.
- Trying new things (even with limits) can be time-consuming. You don't want to go back school for something in the off chance that you might like it. How many of us have friends that went to law school because it seemed like the thing to do? There are ways to gauge if your inkling warrants diving deeper though.
- Take a community college or online course.
- Talk to people already doing what you're considering and ask detailed, poignant questions about what it's like. Not just a vague "Do you like it?" Ask specifics and you’ll be able to rule out things pretty quickly.
I'm not a believer that there is one job or passion that suits us forever. I can't imagine doing one thing for the rest of my life, but I have been able to see some consistencies in the things that keep me engaged and fulfilled. What I was passionate about 10 years ago is definitely not what I’m most passionate about now, but that’s fine. It's through exploring that you find something new. If you want to find passion the best advice I can give you is to be curious and stay open-minded. Don’t wait for it to come looking for you.
To help in your quest, we’ve created a Discover Your Passion worksheet so you can take action today. It’s just one approach to finding the work you love, but we hope you’ll find it useful.Note: Big ups to Cal Newport and Ramit Sethi for inspiring this post. I’ve learned a great deal from these two gents.
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