Here’s the thing about finding your passion: you have to know where to look. Your passion isn’t just lying around somewhere waiting for you to trip over. It’s hidden, rather like a diamond, under layers of college courses you hated, career moves that bored you silly, and jobs you’re afraid to quit. But unless you find your passion, you’re going to spend your days wondering what your life could have been like, “if only” you’d found it.
So how can you find your passion? Where to start digging? Begin by asking yourself these questions.
- What makes you forget the world around you?
What is the one thing you like to do that puts you “in the zone”? That gets you so involved and concentrated that you lose all track of time, even to the point of forgetting to eat? For some, it’s writing. For others, it’s painting or photography or gardening or gaming. Whatever that thing is for you, know that it may be a starting point for finding your passion.
- What do you want to become really good at doing?
What are the skills that excite you? These can be skills you already possess but want to completely master, or skills that you don’t yet possess but want to acquire and master. Maybe you’re fascinated – really fascinated – by coding or cooking or carpentry. Identifying these skills is a great way to set yourself on the path to finding your passion.
- What would you be doing if no one was watching?
If you were freed from the constraints of having to earn a regular salary and could be living in alignment with your values, your gifts, and the impact you want to have on others, what do you think you would be doing every day? The answer to this question may lead you far from where you are now in your career, but isn’t that the point? Isn’t that where you want to eventually go?
- What would you do with your time if you weren’t allowed in your house all day?
That means no playing couch potato in front of the TV, no surfing the Internet all day, no napping with the cat… What would you do with all those hours? This question is meant to make you think about finding a purpose in life – something worthwhile and fulfilling to do with your time. Because you can’t just sit on a park bench, not with that wonderful brain of yours! By finding what activities are most meaningful to you, you’re halfway to finding your passion.
- What are you willing to give up?
Let’s say you have found your passion. But in order to follow it, what if you have to make some sacrifices? Are your prepared to take a salary cut or lose some vacation time? What about having to make a longer commute or move to a less desirable location? Look back at your career and think about the things you loved or hated in your previous jobs. Then decide what advantages are non-negotiable and what perks you can live without. It’s your passion, after all! An extra 25 minutes on the road might be worth every second.
One last thing about your passion: it will evolve as you learn new things, meet new people, travel the world, start a family, and grow older. It may even change into an entirely different animal one day. The only thing you can do is try to recognize it when you see it. And follow it if you can.