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Top 10 Ways to Find Your Passion

November 6, 2010

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If you’re a regular reader of this site, the chances are you’re disillusioned with your current job.  The thought of continuing in the same old 9 to 5 for the next 30 or 40 years fills you with dread and you’ve reached the stage where you’re searching around for alternatives.

However, if you’re anything like me, you’ll know that deciding you’re unhappy with the current situation and resolving to make a change is only half the battle.  Defining your life purely in terms of what you don’t like is not enough. Instead, the challenge facing people determined to strike out on a more independent and creative road is to turn the argument on its head and find out exactly what they do want to do.

It might sound like a fairly simple task yet, for many people, the simple act of finding something they’re enthusiastic enough about to make them consider quitting their job is amazingly tough.

With that in mind, here are my top ten methods for finding your passion.

Go with the flow. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something that gives you a sense of creative fulfilment.  When you’re in a state of flow everything seems easy and you become much more productive – you might even lose track of time and lose awareness of everything else around you.  If you find that a particular activity promotes this state of mind, the chances are it’s something worth getting passionate about.

Pay attention to what makes you happy. Make a note of your state of mind as you carry out everyday tasks.  Is there anything that you do every day that you really look forward to or that makes you really happy?  Maybe it’s doing a physical task like chopping wood?  This would maybe point you in the direction of an outdoors job. Perhaps you find yourself doodling every time you’re sat in a boring meeting?  In which case, it might be worth exploring something more artistic.  This might sound simplistic but it’s surprisingly effective.

Eliminate the unnecessary. Similarly, identify the tasks in your life that make you unhappy.  If office intrigue and back-biting makes you want to scream, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that a life in politics is not for you.  In your everyday life it may also be useful to embrace minimalism as a way of cutting out unnecessary distractions.

Experiment. One technique is to give yourself a set amount of time on a new activity or subject (say 30 days, or three months).  Make a pact with yourself to focus on nothing else for the whole period.  If it doesn’t seem to click by then simply move on to the next experiment.

Abandon stereotypes. When you’re at a party, do you ever find that you always describe yourself as a ‘people person’ or a ‘caring person?’  Maybe you’ve always seen yourself as a ‘technical whizz’ or a ‘woman of action?’  Once in a while, pause and consider how these images you hold of yourself might prevent you from trying something new.  Try looking beyond these knee-jerk stereotypes as a way of broadening the spectrum of possbilities for your ‘future self.’

Be playful. Don’t take things too seriously.  Try out new activities on a whim and without any preconceived notions.  It’s surprising how many people have lost the ability to be spontaneous in their daily lives – try it, you might like it!  If not, put it down to experience and move on.

Persevere. Don’t expect to be ecstatically happy every time you work on something.  My main working passion is writing but sometimes I have days when the sight of that blank page fills me with dread.  However, sometimes, if I just persevere, I end up cranking out 5,000 words just because I kept going.  If I’d given up right at the start I would’ve got nowhere.

Find inspiration. Read biographies of people that inspire you.  Spend more time with friends or family members that are following their passion in life – hopefully some of that gold dust will rub off on you.

Picture your perfect world. An interesting exercise is to spend some time considering how your perfect world would look.  Do environmental issues fire you up?  Are you depressed by the political situation in your country?  Visualize how the world would look if those problems didn’t exist – what actions would need to be taken to get there?  Is there anything you could do to help the world to get there?

Be patient. Sometimes doing nothing at all can be surprisingly effective.  Some of the world’s greatest poets found the inspiration for their most famous works by just letting go and not forcing things too much.  Go for a walk, daydream, doodle – sometimes the best ideas come when you least expect them.

Further Reading/Resources

The Power of Enjoyment by John Anyasor

Paid to Exist by Jonathan Mead

Finding Your Passion by EnterpreneursMindset

How to Find Your Passion by Ben Rosenfeld

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Image Credit – ahisgett via flickr

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Froztwolf permalink
    November 8, 2010 2:33 am

    Excellent advice here.
    I have been working on this myself for some time now and I would like to expand “Eliminate the unnecessary” to include distractions specifically.

    When you start paying attention to what makes you happy and you find that you are spending a lot of time on things that have no practical purpose and do not make you happy, you have probably found a distraction. Some of my person offenders were TV (I used to watch a lot of shows on the computer while doing housework or just while bored) and idle browsing on the internet. (savory and unsavory, though the latter tends to be a much larger distraction)
    While those can keep you from being unhappy, when you are distracting yourself from something bad, they do not make you happy themselves.

    Eliminating these activities, or keeping them to a minimum when they can’t be completely eliminated (we are all human, eh?) resulted in much more clarity for myself and I would think it can do so for just about anyone else.

    If you found that you were distracting yourself from something bad, it’s probably better to tackle those bad things head on anyway. Distracting yourself is not a good long-term strategy.

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