Find your passion even if you have no idea what you want to do with your life.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t really know what you want to be when you grow up. It’d be great to be able to make a living doing work that you love, but maybe you have no idea how to find your passion. Or maybe you just don’t really find what you’re doing right now that interesting or fulfilling. The gurus will tell you that you should “follow your passion and the money will follow you.” But what do you do when you don’t have any idea what your passion is or what you should do with your life? How do you find that fulfillment that makes you want to get up every day and that has you staying up late into the night because you’re much too excited to go to bed?
Doctor… Lawyer… Teacher…
I’ve always envied those people who have always known what they wanted to be. Some people know when they are little kids what they want to be in life. Some find out in grade school or maybe even middle school and their path is set. There are clear paths for people like that.
- good grades in school
- accepted into a good college
- find a good graduate program
- recruited by a prestigious firm/school
- make partner/tenure
- get married and live in the suburbs and commute 2 hours each day
- retire and move to Arizona
how do the rest of us find our passion?
What about those of us who have never really known what we want? Before I went into the Army, I took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB, because everything in the military has an acronym) test, as does everyone going into the military. It’s a standardized set of questions that are supposed to be able to tell you what you would be good at. It turns out that, as I’d heard from guidance counselors in high school, I’d be good at anything. Thanks. Really helpful when trying to make a career choice. So I just fell into a career in IT. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great career and it’s taken me to some very interesting places. I’ve met some spectacular people. I’ve made a fair amount of money. I got lucky. I could do anything if I just knew what that was. So what do you do when you just don’t know what to do? How do you find your passion when you’re not sure what you’re passionate about? I’ve done a lot of soul-searching over the past several years, and I finally know what it is that I want, what it is that I would be doing if I could do whatever I want. I came up with a series of questions that might help you figure out what your passion is and what you would do if you could do anything.
What did “young you” want to be?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a rock star. Or an English teacher. I was really good at music and I was really good at writing and interested in literature and books. Life and the need to earn a living came along and the love of music and the love of writing got pushed aside. I still wrote, but most of what I wrote was read in a boardroom, not a library or living room. It wasn’t until I discovered blogging that the passion for writing and communicating resurfaced. I wrote and directed a stage play/melodrama, and even turned one of my blogs into a book. 8-year-old me wouldn’t be surprised that I’m a published author, but 20-year-old me would be completely shocked! So think back to your youth, whether its a few years or a few decades.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Who did you pretend to be when you played?
What do you do in your free time?
A lot of hobbies turn in to full-time careers. When you have some downtime, when you’re not expected to be really doing anything and have some time to just do whatever you want… what is it that you do? Maybe that is your passion. Maybe that is what you are meant to do. But if you enjoy woodworking or knitting or writing or creating anything, why not pursue that as a possible “reason you’re supposed to be here”? All you have to do is check out Etsy or eBay or Fiverr to see how other people are turning their hobbies into lifestyles. Some will just say “Well I love me some TV! How is someone supposed to make a living watching TV?!” Why not turn your passion for television into a blog site? Review sites are extremely popular!
What’s in your social media?
Social Media can be a huge waste of time. But it can also be a great tool to help you get what you want in life. Like any tool, the result is all in how you use it. Take a few minutes to subjectively look at what is in your social media feeds. What ads are popping up on Facebook? Facebook is great at figuring out what interested you! What do you Pin the most on Pinterest? What blogs or websites do you follow regularly? Chances are pretty good that you are passionate about, or at least really interested in, the things that you are seeing on social media. Take a minute to reach out to someone who makes a living full-time on the internet or in social media and find out how they learned to do what they’re doing? I’m sure they’d love to hear from you, and you just might find a whole new career path!
What do your friends say you should do?
“Joe, you take such good pictures! You should be a photographer!”
Without searching for compliments, find out what your friends think is your passion. Sometimes people aren’t even aware that they are really good at something. There’s this thing called imposter syndrome that makes people think they’re not as good at something as they actually are. You might be really good at art or yoga or cooking… I mean good enough that you not only like doing it but good enough that you could turn that passion into a career.
Where do you want to be in 1, 3, or 5 years?
When you think about the future, where would you like to be? Look forward 1, 3 or 5 years… what does it look like to you if you were living the life you want? Are you where you want to be and doing work that you enjoy? If not, then you really need to learn to dream better! This isn’t about the path you’re currently on… this is about finding your passion! So dream big! What will life be like for you in the future if you can have anything you want? (hint: you can!) Now work backward and start figuring out what you have to do to get there!
Who are you jealous of?
Garth Brooks makes me crazy. He’s so talented and full of energy and creativity! Even if you’re not a country music fan, you have to admit that Garth is a great entertainer! I used to be so jealous of him and always thought that it was because he was famous and on stage. Well, that’s true. But even more importantly, he is doing what he loves! He gets to entertain and be creative and share his passion with the world. I found my passion through blogging and writing, and now I get to do what I love! What is that? I love helping you find your passion and turn it into a way of life. That’s what Your Big Scene is all about! You can be jealous… I’ll understand.
What don’t you want?
Sometimes the best way to find what you want is to identify all the things you know you don’t want! Coming at a problem from a different point of view can be very effective, even when you’re trying to find your passion. Maybe you know you don’t want to do what you’re doing now. Well, at least you know you don’t want that. Maybe you know you don’t want to work in an office. There’s another thing you know you don’t want, which puts you one step closer to finding what you really do want.
So where does that leave you?
Notice any common answers from all those questions?
then you’ve found your passion!
Just so you know, I did get to be a rock star. I played in a rock band for many years, here in the good ol‘ USA and in Germany. A songwriter heard me singing karaoke and hired me to sing on their demo tapes. I performed at county fairs and trade shows and a whole lot of bars. There really wasn’t much money in any of it, but I had a great time! And yes, I still play. 🙂