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.
(click here to tweet that!)
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.”