The Secret To “Finding Your Passion”

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The number of emails I get from people asking me if I can help them figure out what they should be doing with their lives, is striking. We are living in a time where “follow your passions” gets so thrown around all over the place, and we’re left feeling stressed, confused, and like something is wrong with us if we can’t find ours.

“If all the gurus out there are telling me to follow my passions, and I don’t even know what my passion IS, man, I’m screwed”

A part of me loathes that advice. And another part of me is all for it.

I think there is validity to encouraging people to do what they really want to be doing in life, and I also think it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people to “figure it out”. There’s also a misconception that we should all be doing work that is in line with our passions, and that we must first find those passions, and then create or find work that is directly in line with them. THAT is a theory I don’t necessarily buy into.

If you’re the kind of person who values doing work you love, and is trying really hard to figure out exactly what that looks like, my guess is that you’re going about it all wrong.

It’s not an intellectual thing. You can’t just sit there and try to think about what your passions are, and what you should be doing with your life. You can intellectualize it all you want – you can sit for days taking notes, scribbling out all your wild ideas, writing pros and cons lists.

But you won’t have accomplished ANYTHING until you actually start DOING something.

 

Finding your ‘passion’ is not intellectual. It’s experiential.

 

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You may *think* that living on a farm raising llamas would be your dream job, but until you actually get out there and test the waters, you have no way of knowing.

Likewise, looking at all your life’s experiences and smooshing them all together to figure out what your ideal job would be might sound like an awesome idea, but you’ll never really know if it works or not until you TEST IT OUT.

So get out and play. Try new things. Have adventures. Learn about what you love and what you don’t.

And go deep with it. For example, if you think you love teaching – what is it about teaching? Is it being up in front of a room? Is it working in a group? Is it being in charge?

Take it slow and learn through experience.

When you stop worrying so much about figuring it out, it all becomes a whole lot easier (and more fun).

Are you someone who gets stuck in your head trying to “figure it out”? Would love to hear in the comments what your approach is to “following your passions.”

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Read 10 Comments & Leave Yours

  1. kate_marolt

    Love this. Every once in awhile I cycle into freakout mode because ‘Am I doing it right?’ ‘Are these the steps that will make it work?’ ‘What if I did this or didn’t do it the way the thing said I was supposed to?’ That’s usually where it all goes wrong :) When I focus on having energy, feeling healthy, leaving my house (literally and metaphorically), and exploring, that’s when everything goes right and the opportunities come my way! Thanks for the post.

  2. I already commented about this on your facebook status, but wanted to do so here as well.  I’m living this as I type.  9 months ago my husband and I sold half of our belongings, packed up what we had left, and moved across the country to Arizona.  Ever since then I ask myself, “What is my passion.”  Ultimately I have many and some are still yet untapped and are waiting to be discovered.  That’s the awesome thing about life….if you’re willing to try something new, you’ll never get bored and you may just find another passion.  And I’m loving every moment.

  3. brittanyjwelsh

    Totally just has an ah ha moment. Was going to say “what happens when you find out you love what you were doing” next thought went something like this “well duh, you clearly know how to get there already” self therapy at its finest ;) thanks for the advice

  4. BananaBuzzbomb Sounds pretty awesome! The whole thing with passions is that you don’t have to “discover” them. They’re inside you already. When you stop working so hard to “find” them, you start to realize this! Have a blast!

  5. kate_marolt Yes, you nailed it! When you’re having those thoughts is when you need to remember this the most, and it’s awesome that you already know what you need to do to combat those feelings!

  6. GabrielPurcarus

    bingo. I spent a lot of time sitting aside, doing nothing and trying to imagine what my passion is. Doing that I discovered only one thing. That sitting aside is not helping me at all. Instead, I abandoned thinking and start doing the best I can with my everyday life and I realized some things I love more than others and feel in my element. LIfe is a journey where the key is not the final destination, but the happiness of doing it. Too much thinking about destination does get you anywhere.

  7. Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!
    I spent YEARS wrestling with this one – trying to intellectualise what my passions were, what I loved, what I should do with my life yadayadaya.
    It was only when I stopped thinking and started doing that I began to make progress.
    Granted, there were a few false starts (I’m a year into self-employment and on my fifth biz iteration!) but those false starts told me SO MUCH MORE about myself, and where my true passions lie, than a mind map ever could.

    The problem is taking action is scary (what if I fail? what if I succeed?!!), so we make excuses and give ourselves permission to hang in the dreaded ‘figuring it out’ zone, where a helluva lot of thinking takes place… AND VERY LITTLE ELSE.

    Trial and error and experience and experiments are much more productive.  We don’t have to get everything right from the get go.

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