Ahh yes, the age old question, “what do I want to do with my life?”. Something that pops up in your mind several times throughout life or even in a given month. There’s generally a couple routes you can take to figure out what to do with your life: You can decide to follow in your parents footsteps, or find the route that gives you the most money; but the people reading this blog right now? You think positively and care about making a fulfilling life for yourself, guided by your passion.
What is Passion?
Passion is something more than a hobby. If you do something you love at a moderate level, that doesn’t take up your entire day, entire mind, or your entire being, that is your hobby. Your passion is something that you go all out with. Something that, when people think of you, they think of your passion, because it encompasses who you are in totality. But it only is passion if it is something you are in love with doing.
But what if I’m stuck, scared, or confused?
You might be a little lost in your way currently. Maybe your dreams took the backburner and you have been grinding at a steady pace in a mundane city with a mundane job, living a subpar life.
Or maybe you are just getting out into the real world, ready to spread your wings and do something fantastic with your life, but you have no idea where to start.
Maybe you have a passion but, for whatever reason, are scared to commit and it seems foolish mentioning it to people.
Bottom line, finding your passion is one thing, while following your passion is a whole other project. It might seem scary and unrealistic, yes. But, life is scary; full of ups and downs and changed plans. Don’t you want to look back and see that you followed through with your passion to lead a more fulfilling life?
Good news, there is a way to help you find your passion in a realistic way. Move over personality and career tests, this activity will help you find your passion realistically and only has three steps.
How To Find Out Your Passion?
1. Think about what you are naturally good at
What are some activities or skills you have always been good at? Don’t think about how this might pertain to an actual career and don’t put down things you only like to do but aren’t naturally skilled at. Write down any and everything you have a natural ability with. This could be algebra, baking, sports, music, talking to people, coming up with ideas, playing with children, solving a problem, etc. Write this down on a sheet of paper in one column.
2. Think about the topics that intrigue you the most
What are some of the things you cannot stop thinking about? Is there one topic that you love to bring up to people when socializing? Is there one theme of books, documentaries, or articles that you always seem to gravitate towards? Maybe you are interested in all things Ancient Egypt, serial killers, and biology. Or maybe you can’t stop researching musical compositions, physicists, and space. Whatever topics you are naturally interested in, write them down in a second column, next to the first.
3. Focus on what you genuinely love doing
Think about the things that you absolutely find joy doing. This doesn’t have to resonate with what you’re good at. Don’t worry, your parents and coaches aren’t watching. Maybe you love going out with friends and being social. Maybe working out gives you a positive feeling like no other. You might find real joy making lists, solving your friends problems, or solving a really difficult equation. Whatever they are, write down the activities that make you happy in a third column next to the other two.
Here’s how you find your passion:
Circle the thing or things that overlap in all three columns.
If there are no words that overlap, is there a common theme with something in all three columns? This might help you find some clarity into what your passion is.
Great, now comes the research and self inspection part of pursuing your passion.
Now that you think you have an idea of what your passion in life might be, you might wonder, “how do I incorporate my passion into my life?” Well, now it is time to be realistic and cover all your bases so you can make a plan to achieve your goal. You have to do some self introspection and realistic goal setting to see if what you think is your passion is something that can be a long term goal. Remember, a goal without a plan, is just a wish.
Be realistic and ask yourself these questions:
Do you actually know what this job entails, or are you basing a “day in the life of a ___” off of speculation? If so, are you willing and able to shadow or do an internship to get clarity? If not, will risking the lack of insight into what the job fully entails pay off?
Do you need a degree or any other credibility to achieve this? If so, do you have money and dedication to get to that level?
Is there high demand for this type of job? If not, is it something you are willing to, realistically, struggle to defy all odds and accomplish?
Is this job readily available in the area you live in? Are you willing to relocate to an area where this job is more readily available?
Write out a SMART Goal
A SMART Goal is a great way to see if the end goal is something that is realistic and can actually be achieved.
SMART stands for:
Specific: clear, unambiguous, not vague
example: I will achieve my passion by getting my doctorate .
Measurable: “how many?”, “how much?”, “how will I know when I reach my goal?”
example: I will achieve my goal by going to a well renowned school and getting my degree in the top 25% of my class
Achievable: “do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve my goal?”, “have others done this before?”, “is there anything I am missing that I need to achieve this goal?”
example: I will achieve my goal by using my savings, tapping into my mutual fund, and applying for a small loan.
Realistic: “is this goal realistic?”, “Can I put in the time and effort realistically into achieving this goal?” “do I have enough time, resources, and will power?”
example: I will study everyday for 5 hours, and seek out help from professionals to achieve this goal. I am smart and disciplined enough and have enough time to dedicate to achieving this goal.
Timely: “I need to achieve this in (insert amount of time)”
example: I will achieve my goal in 4 years time by dedicating 12 hours a day to this goal.
Put together: I will achieve my passion by getting my doctorate by going to a medical school and graduating top 25% of my class in 4 years. I will complete this goal by studying extra everyday for 5 hours and utilizing 12 hours of my days towards achieving this goal, and also will have the drive and will power, as well as monetary resources coming from my savings, mutual fund, and a small loan, to realistically complete this.
Write this SMART goal on a note, in your calendar, or anywhere you will regularly look at it. Read it to yourself once a day to keep the goal fresh in your mind.
Put it all together
Now you have 1) your passion, 2) realized it is realistic and achievable, and 3) put together a outlined goal on how you will achieve this.
Next, move backwards from your end goal to where you are now and create checkpoints you wish to reach as you continue to move closer towards your passion. Make sure they follow the SMART Goal outline so you have realistic and timely goals on this path starting from today and finishing to when you have reached the end goal of living out your passion.
A great way to keep yourself accountable is to write down these pieces of your plan somewhere; on a vision board, in a notebook, on sticky notes, in your phone, anywhere you will constantly be reminded of your passion and how to achieve it.
The Benefits of Doing What You Do With Passion
Congratulations! You now know your passion and are on your way to achieving a more fulfilling life. Living out your passion can have some amazing benefits for your life. Here are some:
It causes you to be introspective
Getting to know yourself better and having a good relationship with yourself is one of life’s greatest opportunities. It’s something that can help you with relationships, self care, and establishing boundaries to lead to a happier, positive life.
Figuring out what your passion is causes you to think about your intentions more deeply. Asking yourself, “what is my passion?”, “what things give me the most joy?”, “how hard of a worker am I?” can really help you get more in touch with who the real you is.
While working on the road to your passion, you might have doubts, you might need to rework your plan or it might even cause you to go down another path to a new passion you didn’t even know you had. All of these baby steps cause you to look inward and get to know yourself better.
It makes you healthier
Living happily and not stressed is crucial for your health. Research shows that “excess stress causes an increase in levels of cortisol, a hormone that contributes to many of the harmful effects of stress, including disturbed sleep, weight gain, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.” (Healthline)
It is also proven that having less stress and being happy is associated with 22% less risk of developing heart disease
Other health benefits from being happy include:
- Less risk of stroke
- Less risk heart attack
- Higher life expectancy
- Less pain
- Reducing blood pressure
- Less risk of developing depression/anxiety
Michelle Obama once said, “I think that in order to be successful, women have to figure out what they’re passionate about first. No matter what you aspire to, you’ve got to love what you do in order to be successful at it.”
Now you have all the tools to get started on your passion, so go out there and follow your dreams.
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
– Oprah Winfrey