How many times have we heard the ol’, “Do what you love,” or “Follow your passion,” advice? But what if you’re stuck trying to find your passion or pinpoint what exactly it is that you love doing? Kent Healy from The Young Entrepreneur Council offers his advice on how to find your passion.
by Kent Healy
Common: Believing that passion strikes us serendipitously and miraculously changes our life for the better.
Uncommon: Take a quick gaze into the world of non-fiction literature and there is one word that cannot be ignored: passion.
Authors, speakers, leaders, and gurus use this word with a near religious application – as though it’s the alchemist’s secret to wielding the famed Midas touch. They preach that passion is an indispensable part of personal success and happiness.
Based on this introduction, you might be surprised to read this next statement: I agree with them. Passion is one very important element (of many) that produces extraordinary results.
What frustrates me (and many people who read these statements about passion) is that the process to attaining this ‘transformational’ passion is often overlooked or described as though the gods endow it. Either way doesn’t help.
The Wrong Prognosis
Here’s the fundamental issue: We’re led to believe that we’ll find passion, so long as we are hopeful it will one day arrive.
Not surprisingly, this belief or assumption is often behind the most common question (aka complaint) I hear:
“I know I could be successful, but I just haven’t found anything I’m passion about. I need something that makes me come alive. So how can I find my passion?”
And here’s this comment translated: “I don’t have the passion to succeed.”
Yes, I said it. I know this will sting for a few people out there. But I’m not sorry. Why? This is what needs to be said to eventually enjoy a life of passion.
Searching vs. Doing
It’s time to stop searching and start doing. And no, they are not the same thing. Looking for passion is not akin to searching for a solution to a problem or a new business opportunity because passion isn’t ‘identified’ in the same way.
Searching for your passion is not proactive; it’s actually quite passive, because embedded in the pursuit is the erroneous belief that when seen, it will be immediately recognized. The reality is that a lifelong passion is most often revealed through working passionately on something you have immediate access to. That may mean your less-than-gratifying job. And no, these are NOT words encouraging the sustenance of a lackluster status quo (more on this shortly).
Sure, some people do ‘stumble upon’ their passion in life. And if you believe the lotto offers favorable odds, then by all means keep believing that tomorrow your passion will appear.
For those who would like to increase their odds of living a passionate life, I suggest you stop indulging in the following traps:
- Waiting for your passion to reveal itself by way of haphazardly observing your current daily life while you work halfheartedly on dispassionate things.
- Doing things (anything and everything) half-heartedly because they don’t excite you.
- Conserving your time and energy, believing that when your passion arrives you’ll be ready to grab life by the horns and start ‘really living.’
- Believing that along with passion comes so much motivation that releasing it will simultaneously change all of your prior unconstructive habits.
The Sobering Facts
Before passionate (and successful) people find their true life’s passion, they are passionate about doing great work –whatever that work entails. On but rare occasions is the subject matter alone the cause or origin of passion.
Instead, the origin of their passion can be traced to two related things:
- The personal interest they have in being great that precedes increased competence and increased enjoyment.
- The level of proficiency they develop that reveals worlds of new personal and professional opportunities for them to meet inspiring people and become exposed to options, alternatives, and ideas they didn’t know existed.
The worst thing someone can do is stay in neutral, waiting to ‘pull the trigger’ until they can pull it passionately. Waiting for the perfect moment to commit 100 percent to something they think they will be passionate about is the ideal recipe for passing life up.
If you already have an area of interest, then choosing your direction and choosing to commit shouldn’t be a problem. If, however, you’re not 100 percent sure what direction is ‘right’ (like the majority of us), then chose what you think or feel may be the best available option and throw yourself into the pursuit of excellence in that area.
You will be much, much better off committing to succeed in a single direction (even if it’s not as glamorous as your 5th grade visions of adult life) than you will be doing everything with a reserved effort in a pounce-ready position.
The critical factor here is remaining flexible and bold as you move ahead – to explore and attempt personally intriguing avenues and opportunities with enough time and effort to thoroughly test your level of engagement.
Yours for the Taking
So please, stop waiting to be swept up by a Hollywood injection of divine inspiration.
Despite what we’re taught, passion can be both cultivated and created – but it’s far from the passive process of standing by observing life with dispassionate eyes.
Apart from the rare exceptions (that, for better or worse, also get the most exposure), one’s true passion in life is most often preceded by a passion to do excellent work.
And it all begins, somewhat ironically, with an often self-initiated passion to become passionate about giving your all. But what may begin as a rigorous, conscious effort, will most likely lead you to a life rife with what we all wish to have: passion.
This post originally appeared on The Uncommon Life.
After working with the media from his teen years, Kent Healy is the founder of The Uncommon Life and has become a go-to source for creative insights on entrepreneurship, leadership, life-skills education, and productivity. He is a location-independent entrepreneur, speaker, real estate investor, and author of 6 books.