If workshops, personal development courses, and quizzes aren’t helping you find your passion or a purpose for your life, we have some simple actions for you to try. These ideas will simplify the journey to discover your passion and purpose, make it less daunting and maybe even more fun. Because if nothing else, I don’t think it should be so overwhelming or as involved as we’re making it.
First, we should re/define “purpose” and “passion.”
Although passion and purpose can mean very similar things and it’s common to use the terms interchangeably, in this post, I want to clarify which is what. When most people say they want to find their passion, they usually mean they want to find their “dream job” or a career they like and feel capable of doing. Having purpose doesn’t necessarily link up with a job and most people never find their purpose in the office. Purpose usually have a deeper meaning and is more impactful.
To highlight the difference between the two, imagine that you’re passionate about music. Your passion means you’re dedicated and feel a sense of agency about your chosen career. Whether or not it leads to great financial success, it feels like you and you love it. Passion is the draw and why you could practice for 10 hours a day if you had to. You are so committed to music that after years in it, you find yourself giving a concert to benefit Flint, Michigan and eventually, bringing clean drinking water to everyone on earth becomes your life’s purpose. Purpose is bigger than you and usually doesn’t pay well. Music, the stock market, engineering are passions and causes or personal goals are more purpose driven.
Simplify the process
So, for this piece, let’s assume we’re speaking more about passion, but it can also cover purpose, if you’re looking for that. There is, in my opinion, a need to simplify our definitions of both. Our gurus have unintentionally given us a limited and confusing definition of “purpose” and some of us have confused it with passion, and today it doesn’t seem like anyone who’s into personal growth and development can be happy with just having a job/career. Many drive themselves crazy looking for special God-given gifts and can’t be happy while they’re looking. Some who confuse the two terms, imagine that once they find this passion/purpose, they’ll serve mankind and be happy and fulfilled. The end.
Rarely does it work either of these things work that way. Finding your passion, which is what I’ll be focusing on here, doesn’t usually happen overnight. It can take time, some thought, effort, and trial and error to figure out. And you can be happy until (or if you never) find yours.
Consider these truths about passion:
- You may have many career passions throughout your life.
- You don’t have to be totally fulfilled in your work to be passionate about it.
- The people you work with can make a huge difference in whether or not you feel passionate about your work. Doing marketing for Company X might be soul-crushing while at Company Y, the same work can be fulfilling.
- People are a huge part of passion. It’s usually not the thing you do but the thing you do with others (and how others feel about what you do) that makes you love it.
- Passion may not come until you reach another level in your career… when you have freedom and can call some shots.
- You can find passion outside of work, and still, lead a really rich fulfilling happy life.
Having laid out all that, here then are 7 things you can do to help yourself find your passion, without all the hoopla!
1a. Work your strengths
Albert Einstein said…
Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Whether you want to be paid for your passion or you’re open to it being an unpaid calling, working your strengths is a great way to hone your talents or figure out what they are. Work your strengths by spending most of your time on what you’re good at. Work on what you’re good at every chance you get. You know that you’re passionate about something if you’re willing to put in the time (and money) on it.
1b. Lean into your interests
Until you know your strengths or talents, lean into your interests. Don’t just think about learning a language, get the apps, join clubs that help you practice, watch Netflix shows in that language. In our global world, knowing a second language can open many doors—doors to new people, experiences and your talents. This is one of the biggest reasons people never find their talents, they don’t follow their interest and because they don’t, they never happen upon it. That’s how many many people find their talents, they stumble upon it by doing something else.
Tips to exploring your passion and interests
- Pay attention to what others routinely praise you for or ask your help on.
- Pay attention to tasks you routinely lose yourself in.
- Read Strengths Finder by Tim Rath and do the exercises.
- Look through your local paper and sign up for initiatives/causes/events that appeal to you.
- Read books. You may want to set a reading goal to read a book a month.
- Attend readings, seminars and museum events to meet like minds.
- Get out of the house!!!!
- Be curious: read topics on Quora and join groups that interests you.
- Follow people on social media who inspire you; block out everyone else.
- Approach someone in an industry you admire and ask if you can pick their brain.
- If you like what they have to say, make a list of things about the industry to learn.
- Think about activities that usually bring you satisfaction and try them out.
Think about these questions:
- What’s a glory moment in your past that you’ve kept reliving over and over?
- If money were no object and you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
- Would you prefer praise/status/notoriety OR money in your dream job?
- What is a problem in the world that bothers you or that you’d love to help with?
2. Go deep
Let me hit you with another Einstein quote:
Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
So many people just scratch the surface of things and never get to the bottom of them. They take the lazy route and therefore never really master or understand what they supposedly love. If you love something, dedicate yourself to becoming an expert in it. Even if what interest you (passionately) is knitting, don’t devalue it by giving it the surface treatment. Give the things that move you, your time and dedication.
3. Tap into your creative side
Creativity is one of the best tools to help us discover our passion because creativity is non-competitive. When we feel free to make mistakes, we can leave space for genius to enter. Creativity, whether it leads to something earth-shatteringly fabulous or not, can help you stay in the moment, i.e., help you develop focus. Consider these synonyms for creativity and go for it:
4. Connect the dots
Connect the dots and you’ll see there’s a there, there.
To every life, there is a theme. Find yours and connect the dots between the things that have mattered to you. You may need to lay it all out and like a jigsaw puzzle, keep coming back to it, but there’s a good chance you’ll find a pattern or sameness to the things you always did without thinking and have always loved.
5. Take time to be with your thoughts
Warren Buffet has said he insists on taking time, almost every day, to just sit and think. “I read and think. I do more reading and thinking, and make fewer impulse decisions than most people in business,” he said. Any contemplative activity such as knitting, washing dishes, playing the guitar, laying around in a hammock, walking and many exercises can put us in this headspace… and so can, of course, reading. Meditation is another wonderful practice.
6. Go outside your comfort zone
Meet new people, try new cuisines, listen to different types of music, take a ride in a hot air balloon, start a blog, even ask for help if you’re not the type to do it. If it’s something you wouldn’t dream of doing, try it. Changing things up and putting yourself in new situations can take you to unexpected places.
7. Be productive
When you’re active and feel productive, you create movement. Movement gives us direction so that even when we don’t know where we’re going, we’re moving toward something. I hope that makes sense.
If you’re young or still in college and worried that you don’t know what you’re supposed to do with your life, keep in mind that for some people, the path doesn’t always seem clear. Take the job and have a life. Your life can be fuller than your career and you don’t need to let other people’s definition of success deter you from what will make you happy. And if you don’t know your passion, please don’t let that be an excuse to be slothful. The chances that your passion is going to find you on the sofa, in a bar, hash house, etc., are pretty slim.
And don’t be hard on yourself.
Just do something–anything–with intention and a happy heart because living well is why you really want to find your passion. And there are all sorts of ways to live well…and because everything takes money, take the unexciting job and love it while you’re doing activities like the ones I’m suggesting.
Christine is a lifestyle coach living in Los Angeles. Using systems, routines, and some psychological trickery, she can help almost anyone hack their mind and life for greater productivity. Email email@example.com to find out if she's available for one-on-one work.