“Follow your passion” has become a well-worn phrase. But what happens if you don’t know what your passion is?
This isn’t just an issue for those beginning their careers, it can be a problem for those stuck in jobs that they don’t enjoy.
It’s all too easy to fall into a routine that leaves you bored or unfulfilled: you want to make the switch but you’re not sure what to.
These eight exercises could help you find your true passion in life.
1. Ask yourself these three simple questions
Finding your passion could be easier than you think. By answering these questions honestly, you could work out what to do with the rest of your life.
“What subject could I read 500 books about without getting bored?”
“What could I do for five years straight without getting paid?”
“What would I spend my time doing if I had complete financial abundance to do anything?”
2. Don’t presume that your passion should be your job
Hunter S. Thompson, the gonzo journalist and novelist, once said: “Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing.”
“There are a lot of things worth doing that will never bring you money,” writes Heather Ennis on question-and-answer site Quora. “You don’t have to be great at something to be passionate about it.
“If you can’t imagine not doing something, it’s a passion. It doesn’t have to be a moneymaker. Make your money some way that will give you the time for what you really love to do.”
3. Work out what you hate doing
List the jobs or tasks that you absolutely loathe. Once you have eliminated these options, your true passion may become more clear. Quora poster Gaurav Joshi also recommends creating a list of the people you are jealous of to get more clarity on the issue.
“Ask this question: who do I envy the most due to the work they do?” he says. “List multiple individuals, then look at the work they do, and try those things. You might find your passion from that list.”
re mediocre at
Even if they don’t possess exceptional skills at any one thing, most people have lots of specialisms that they are “okay” at.
According to Oliver Emberton, founder of software start-up Silktide writes on Quora, if you fuse your mediocre skills together, you’ll find your passion.
“Say you’re an average artist, with a decent sense of humour,” he explains. “You won’t have much hope with an art degree, and you can’t study ‘humour’ as a subject. But you could be an awesome cartoonist.
“Or take an average business student, with some programming ability, and decent sales skills. That person is surprisingly well suited to become the boss of others who were better than them in any one of those areas.”
Emberton argues that the most successful people, the ones that are most passionate about their work, are almost never defined by a single skill.
“They are a fusion of skills, often not even exceptional skills, but they’ve made their fusion exceptional,” he says.
“Steve Jobs was not the world’s greatest engineer, salesperson, designer or businessman. But he was uniquely good enough at all of these things, and wove them together into something far greater.”
5. Forget the ‘Eureka!’ moment
Inspiration may strike some people in an instant. Suddenly, they know what they should be doing with their lives. For others, it takes work.
Quora poster Logan Jay recommends spending 20 minutes each day thinking about the things that have interested you recently, or any opportunities that you have spotted.
“Your true passion is not found overnight, but is realised through series of discoveries of small interests,” he says. “I have always regarded thinking/meditating as a process of reading/analyzing your mind, which in turn leads to discovering your true passion.”
Try asking close friends and family what they think you should be doing with your life. But don’t put people on the spot, as they may rush their answers.
If any of your nearest and dearest have hobbies or passions that interest you, ask to spend some time helping out, or giving them a try. Experiment with new activities, whether it’s a new sport, learning a language, or trying a craft, as much as possible.
. Remember what you loved doing as a child
Did you love to draw or write stories when you were young? Try to remember the activities that you enjoyed during your childhood, before the pressure to study the right subjects or get a good job began to mount.
What hobbies did you enjoy doing before life got in the way? Would you enjoy those activities now? Use these memories to help you find your true passion as an adult.
Perhaps you still have hobbies now. Could you expand on them so they take more of a centre stage in your life?
Or take a new perspective: imagine that you are very old. What do you wish you had spent the last 20 to 30 years doing? Think of it as a slightly less gloomy version of writing your own obituary.