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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. I was inspired by the likes of Steve Jobs, I loved programming, and I dreamed of creating something that would leave a legacy in the world.
3 Steps to Finding Your Passion
As kids, we had such clear ideas on what we wanted to be. We knew what we enjoyed, what we felt drawn to, 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” or “I don’t really have a passion”. “How do I find my true passion” is a question that many adults seem to struggle with.
And 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. We were brought up to be a cog in a machine. We were told that if we just showed up, and did as we were expected, we would collect our paychecks and live a secure, happy life.
But 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 underpaid, bad jobs, or, great jobs which will connect with you, and give you 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 living and loving each day fully. The key to having that life is passion.
So how do you find your passion?
Here are 3 simple steps to help you on that journey.
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 you admire most about them (it’s probably not everything about them)?
- What 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?
- What’s 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 they imagine you doing, what your strengths are, what are the first adjectives they think of when they think of you.
Once you’ve written out all these lists, look for trends. And 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. We didn’t think about 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, of embarrassing yourself, of 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 truly 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, to 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.