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Does it sometimes seem as if everyone but you is passionate about something in their life?
“Follow your passion” is a frequently given advice to young people starting their adult lives. But what if you’re not an eager college graduate, filled with ideals and ready to set the world on fire? What if you still don’t know what your passion is? Or if you even have one?
Are you stuck in a job that leaves you bored and feeling unfulfilled?
When you try to imagine a better way to live your life, are you drawing a blank?
It may be easier than you think to find your passion.
By asking yourself some key questions, you can discover what you could be doing with the rest of your life.
1. What would you do with your days if you suddenly won the lottery?
You’ve probably heard stories about lottery winners quitting their jobs, buying expensive houses, cars and boats and losing all their money.
But just imagine that money was never going to be a problem again and that you already had all the houses, cars and boats you might want.
What does your day look like?
Are you writing a novel? Opening a flower shop? Learning to ride horses? Volunteering at an animal shelter?
What is your purpose? Your joy in this life?
2. What do you already do as a hobby that you wouldn’t want to give up?
It’s fine if your passion is not something that you can earn a living with. Many people have jobs that are just a way to earn a living and pay for the things they really care about.
Consider those things you keep coming back to in your free time. They could be the basis for a career change but maybe what makes them a passion for you is that they’re not a job. But finding who you are and what you love is still living life with passion.
It’s also possible that you never really explored how your hobby could develop into a business.
For example, Kathryn, a friend of mine, learned to knit at her mother’s knee. She recently turned her years of experience and knowledge into a thriving business, teaching busy mothers how to be creative in the small moments of their day.
3. What do you surround yourself with?
What makes you happy when you look around your home? Is it your travel coffee table book collection? The minimal serene way you’ve decorated your rooms? What do you spend money on? Going to local theatre performances? Exploring museums?
Don’t be logical, listen to your heart and see what thrills you in the things you’ve chosen to have in your home or spend your money on. These are already your passions, or at least on their way to being your passions.
4. Suspend reason and ask yourself “What do I want to be when I grow up?”
When you were little and too young to have anyone tell you that your ideas were unreasonable, you easily answered with the assurance and power of a child’s unlimited imagination.
I want to be an astronaut! A ballet dancer! A fireman.
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Then along came the gentle guidance of parents, teachers and academic advisors to prod you into a “real” job track.
Be an accountant. A doctor. A lawyer.
So go ahead. Close your eyes and shake off being an adult for a few minutes.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
5. Do you know someone who is actually pursuing their passion?
We’re not all cogs in a machine, even if it feels that way sometimes. Many people love their jobs or the passions they pursue in their free time.
When you’re trying to find the thing that will bring real meaning to your life, you can learn a lot from people who already have.
Ask them! “How did you find your passion in life?”
Was it a happy accident when they were hired for their job? Did they dream about it all their lives?
You might be surprised by their answer and find your thinking about your own passion changed.
6. Invent an ideal job that would combine your talents and favorite hobbies or interests.
Let yourself be silly.
Maybe you’re interested in African wildlife, quilting, and travel and you have experience with project management and budgeting.
Boom! Your new job is creating budget travel photo safari packages for senior groups. And maybe you throw in local handwork craft lessons as part of their trips.
Maybe, but try it anyway to get your imagination going.
The idea is to incorporate your interests with your abilities. You don’t have to be an expert at any one of them.
Most successful people are not defined by one skill. Elon Musk, for example, – as an employer and a creator – said that degrees were far less important than skills and the desire to learn.
7. What do you hate?
By making a list of those things you really don’t want to do in life, you’ll uncover what brings you satisfaction.
When working out what tasks you can delegate or eliminate in your schedule, to free up time for what you really want to spend your time on. You also clearly define what you like to do vs what you don’t.
One woman might choose to buy prepared meals, delegate or share cooking with her spouse because cooking is something she doesn’t enjoy.
Another woman who loves to cook might still use shortcuts during the week but make Saturdays an event while she goes to the Farmers’ Market and experiments with recipes on the weekends.
Separating the things you really don’t like in your weekly schedule from the ones you enjoy, you’ll see more clearly how you genuinely like to spend your time.
8. What would you happily do for a year without needing to get paid?
This is assuming, of course, that your finances and obligations were taken care of.
Is there something in your life that you wish you had more time for? That just brings you happiness when you think about it?
Don’t eliminate things that you think you can’t afford to do. Stay wide open to what your heart is telling you.
Now look carefully at that thing and ask yourself if it’s the action or the feelings evoked that you love the most.
For example, if you dream of your Disney vacation all year long, what is it about it that thrills you? Is it the rides and shows? Is it the childlike enthusiasm you feel when you enter the park? Try to pin down the elements of the experience that excite you.
If you’d love to spend a year traveling, what would that look like? Would you be alone or with your family? Do you see yourself camping near vineyards in Italy or staying in first class hotels in Australia? What do you most want to see? Each country’s natural wonders, historical sites or museums and art galleries?
This exercise can help you narrow down your emotional reaction to specific triggers (museums, camping, being with enthusiastic children, etc.)
From there, you can examine what you might want to do to experience that emotional reaction in a different kind of work or a volunteer opportunity in your life.
9. Are you brave enough to embrace your passion?
We all have fears.
Fear of failure, fear of being ridiculed. Fear of success.
Is your fear creating a barrier between you and your passion?
A friend who is a fitness coach recently posted “Look in the mirror. That’s your competition.” Is your mind playing you (and winning) to keep you in your nice, safe little world rather than risk failure? Or, heaven forbid, success?
Is your passion a tiny whisper in your mind, drowned out by the rational, the practical, the very loud voice of reason that insists you play it safe?
The only way to know is to take the time to shut out the voice of reason and listen quietly.
10. What if you can’t find passion in anything?
A reader wrote “I am just not passionate about anything. I know that I want to live a financially abundant life and work on my own schedule. I am also good at several different things. But I just don’t have passion for anything. I am almost 40 and to be honest I have felt this way most of my adult life. When I was younger I always thought that one day I would find what it was. As time goes on I am starting to wonder if that is true or not. I have tried a lot of different ventures over the years which I start out having interest in at first but that usually wanes very quickly. ”
I’ve thought of her a lot. Thought about how she could, or should, seek out her passion in life.
And she’ll probably hate the conclusion I came to, but I promised my readers tough love when they needed it, so here goes.
Passion is a two way street.
You can find passion about something you want to do in life. The thing that gets you smiling every morning as you embark on your day. Discovering that baking is your passion in life and creating a career around that passion is a great thing!
But sometimes passion is something that has to come from inside of you. And that’s much harder to accept and to do.
Your attitude towards everything you do affects how you feel about life.
If you had a bad night’s sleep, you might be going into your day with a negative mindset and it’s not likely to be a happy day for you or for those you come into contact with. And after a day like that, you aren’t likely to come home and be cheerful and happy with those you love.
But if you made the deliberate decision when you woke up that you were going to make your day a good one, you’d bring a positive attitude to everything you did that day. Problems would be easier to solve, people would naturally respond to your warmth and happiness.
Can you see how much impact the mindset you chose will have on your own perception of your day and the people you share it with?
What happens to us in life isn’t always in our control. How we react to those events is absolutely in our control.
Passion is not always something we have to find. Passion can be created.
Try bringing passion to everything you do in a day.
Just one day.
Wash your face, drink your coffee, make your bed, drive to work.
Put as much enthusiasm and energy into each task as you can. Be intentional and treat everything you do as if it is something you want to do.
Make yourself believe it and let it come out to splash into your day. Smile and infect everyone around you with your enthusiasm. Because enthusiasm and joy are contagious!
Love everything in your day. Deal with obstacles and difficult people with kindness and don’t let them shake your intention.
When you create your own mindset and carry it through your day, you’ll find insights that were previously invisible to you.
Not your life’s passion. Your passion for your life.
When you commit to love your life, you move through your days in a state of openness and energy that will direct you towards ideas and opportunities. But the blessing of creating passion from the inside is that you are in a good place right now.
Embarking on a new venture that will create the life you want can be glorious at first. But it’s not always, in and of itself, a passion that can be sustained long term. Sometimes passion is the mindset you decide to invest and believe in. It’s what you believe in even when the days are long and hard.
Passion can be created and passion feeds on itself.
Day after day, your mindset will not only carry you further than you’d believe, it will recreate your outlook on life. Like any habit, repetition creates permanent change. Being passionate about yourself and your day is a habit you can create.
So … if you find yourself enthusiastic about something and then drop it when your interest wanes, try to find the passion in yourself to see it through. One day at a time. When the process is not as much fun (which is true of everything in life), tap into your passion for the outcome, whether that’s financial independence or freedom from the workplace, and let that passion and joy carry you forward.
Remember, you may not always be able to change what you’re doing, but you can change how you’re doing it and how you choose to feel about it.
And before closing question #10, I had another thought.
Passion can also be about the result of our work, not necessarily in the work itself.
A very wise woman, one of my mentors, told me that the business she’s well known for is not her passion.
She’s very good at it, phenomenal really. She approaches her work with energy, focus and love and makes everyone who works with her feel wonderful.
Her passion is the life that her hard work has given her.
After some very tough personal years, she now has a thriving and profitable business that gives her financial independence and the ability to work the hours she chooses, and from anywhere in the world.
She’s very invested in giving her clients great value and in helping them succeed. She is intense about everything she does and cares deeply about helping her clients achieve their goals, but her true passion is for the life she has created for herself and her family.
If you simply can’t find passion is the things you try in life, try adopting a mindset that focuses positivity, energy and love in the things you do throughout the day. That mindset can be trained into a life habit that will make others respond to you in kind. Find satisfaction, at the very least, in the way you go about your day. It may be that your passion will be found in the result rather than the process.
Magic happens when you follow your heart. Or when your heart decides to create magic.
Life is too short to be without passion.
Find it. Create it. Share it.