Finding and Following Your Passion
The research is clear: People are most effective when they’re doing what they love. We are happier, experience greater emotional well-being, and enrich the lives of others when we find our passion and live our lives to the fullest.
Finding your passion means different things to different people. For me, I am very passionate about my faith, my family, and my work – in that order. I’m also passionate about reading, learning, traveling, and sailing.
As far as my work, I’m one of those fortunate people that discovered my passion for writing while I was a teen. In my 20s, I began taking writing classes at the local college and took my first step toward fulfilling a secret dream. Be warned, it was a very long time before I could make a living from writing, but I can testify that it’s absolutely fabulous to have a job doing what you love.
Perhaps you’ve already found your passions as well. But if that’s not the case, you’re not alone. It’s never too late to find your passions – whether that means following a spiritual path, finding a more fulfilling job, or discovering a new hobby or activity to escape the stresses of life.
Although following your passion isn’t always easy, figuring out what your passion is can be even more elusive. Here are a few tips to get you started down the path of discovery:
- Think about the most meaningful experiences in your life when you felt the greatest personal satisfaction, contentment, and most importantly, when you made a difference. Passion is only lasting and fulfilling when it’s connected to a larger purpose.
- Examine what interests you. What excites you and brings you joy? What did you love to do as a child? What makes you lose track of time? What blogs do you follow? What kind of books and magazines do you read? What do you research on the Internet?
- Also consider your skills. Have you always been a good gardener, cook, parent, writer, builder, organizer, teacher, or seller? Do you excel at coming up with unique ideas or connecting with people? The answers to these questions may give you a clue to finding a more satisfying career, since – as I wrote about in my blog, “Why Boomers Can Be Positive About Working Longer,“ – most of us boomers can expect to work into old age.
- Brainstorm. Let your mind wonder and write down whatever comes to mind. Look at your bookshelf, on your computer, or around your house for inspiration. Or better yet, take a large poster board and create a collage of sayings, articles, poems, photos, and whatever else you find inspiring. Don’t limit yourself. There are no bad ideas; you can narrow down choices later. As your board evolves, you’ll find it becomes more focused.
Finding your true passion will require reflection, soul-searching, and experimentation. If you choose to make a career from your passion, you must leave all of your doubts and fears behind. You’ll need courage commitment, patience, and persistence.
I do have one word of caution: don’t quit your day job right away. When I was starting out, I naively decided to write full-time after several of my articles and short stories were published. That was a big mistake. Be patient and remember that making a living by doing what you love may take a while. However, if you’re enjoying yourself, the time will pass quickly.
Of course, you don’t have to combine your financial income with your passion. They can be separate entities, fulfilling by their own means. A passion is not only valuable when it is validated by money or employment. Doing what you love is worthwhile just for the joy, fulfillment, and satisfaction it brings. Following your passion doesn’t necessarily mean changing careers either; you can cultivate passion for your current job as well.
One more final thought on this subject. Be balanced, people. I’m here to say that if following your passion means giving up your spirituality, your values, or sacrificing your marriage and family to reach your goals, please reconsider. Don’t have an irresponsible view of following your passion no matter what. In fact, dropping everything to follow your passion can have disastrous results.
So those are my thoughts on finding your passion. Drop me a line and give me your thoughts. What are you passionate about?