I get it. You want to do something you’re excited to get up for every day. Something that will keep you fulfilled not just for the money, but because it’s meaningful to you. In short, you want to do something you’re passionate about.
The problem with trying to find your passion is it can be paralyzing! You’ve asked yourself the right questions. You’ve thought about what you love more than anything. And you still aren’t sure what your one true passion is.
Well, it’s time to get moving. If you’re feeling stuck trying to find your passion, chances are it’s for one of these reasons. And the good news is – there’s a solution for each one.
The 3 Reasons Why You Haven’t Found Your Passion Yet (and What to Do Instead)
Reason 1: I’m Just Not Passionate About Anything
Passion is such a strong word. How do you know if something is a true passion versus a mere passing interest? The line can be blurrier than you might think.
To distinguish, start by looking back at what has always interested you. It could be a hobby, a cause, a type of person, or a consistent topic of conversation. Look for the commonality amongst what’s always kept you interested in life and what you keep coming back to time and again.
Chances are, your true passion lies somewhere there. If you haven’t kept to one thing your entire life, just start writing down everything you’ve pursued. Then, look for the common thread.
To find that common thread, try to isolate what you really loved or what drew you into in a hobby or interest. If you were into a certain sport in high school, what kept you excited about it? Maybe it was the physicality of the sport itself, understanding and excelling at something that others didn’t understand, or the fact that you were on a team.
As you start to look to your past, you’ll find consistency amongst how you’ve spent your time and why. Whatever has kept you coming back in life so far is sure to keep you engaged moving forward.
Reason 2: I’m Passionate About Everything! How Do I Choose?
I hear from a lot of clients looking to pursue their passions that they have way too many passions to choose just one. I completely get it. Anyone that knows me will tell you I can get passionate about anything in the moment. That excitement about so many topics can be overwhelming when it comes time to choose just one.
If that sounds like you, how do you choose? To start, go back to the first exercise and see what has stuck with you throughout life. Chances are, that’s the true passion and the rest are just fleeting and won’t keep you interested for long.
Next, check in with your skill set. You could be passionate about a lot of things, but only good at a few on the list. While you can always grow your skills, it’s much easier if you can pursue something that draws on your talents or aligns with your current traits.
If you’re not sure what you’re good at, ask others and do some self-assessments to find out.
Knowing who you are is key to finding work you’d like to pursue and making sure you’ll be successful in that pursuit.
Finally, if you’ve truly been passionate about everything your entire life and it turns out you’re good at everything on your list, just pick one! This doesn’t have to be a finite choice for you.
You’ve got a long life ahead of you and half the fun of life is learning and trying new things. Pick one, see how it goes, and if it’s not doing it for you after a couple of years, you can always pick up and try something new. We’re in the age where job-hopping is not only no big deal, but can actually help you in the long run, so don’t be afraid to just jump in!
Action is almost always better than inaction and will always lead to clarity of some sort.
Reason 3: I Know My Passion, But it Won’t Make Me Any Money
The dirty truth here? My true passion is yoga. I’ve taken over 500 hours of teacher certification training, practice regularly on my own and with others, read yoga books in my spare time, and always feel alive when I teach.
And yet, professionally, I’m a Career Strategy Coach. I have finally admitted that teaching yoga can’t support the life I want to live. And that’s a huge bummer.
But, I’ve found a way to pursue my passion of yoga and still live the life I want to live, and I’m absolutely happier right now than I would be as a full-time yoga teacher.
First, consider what about your passion makes it your passion. I love yoga because of the impact it made on my life. Yoga was the first place I ever heard that I didn’t need to keep striving to be better or follow the rules that everyone else gave to me.* Now, I help my clients understand that as a career coach. I’m just as fulfilled and lit up after a client call, but I get to live the type of life I want to live, with “normal” working hours, time to travel, and money for good wine (which might be another passion, if I’m being honest).
Understanding the root of why your passion is your passion leads to more flexibility than being dogmatic with what you call your passion, and can ultimately lead to a life that is more fulfilling for you.
If you’re having a hard time connecting the threads, it might be ok to find work that is less meaningful to you, but that allows you the time and flexibility to pursue your passion outside of work. There are commonly three ways in which we can pursue work: a job, a career, and a calling.
A job provides your basic needs – a roof over your head, money for food, and some security that you can go on living another day. A career provides all of that in addition to a sense of identity and self-esteem – your psychological needs. And a calling gives you even more – it makes you feel like you are a part of something bigger and you are fulfilling your purpose in life.
A calling is what most people are seeking when they are trying to find their passion. But the truth is, each of the three types of work – a job, a career, and a calling – are equally “right” for different purposes. At the end of the day, your best life lived might be one in which you have a job that provides your basic needs and you find the rest – and pursue your passion – outside of that.
What Can I Do If I Still Can’t Find My Passion?
If you’ve tried all of this and are still at an impasse, focus your quest on the impact you want your work to make. Instead of continuing to ask yourself what you’re interested in and what you want to do, focus on who you want to help.
Stop bouncing that vague question: “What do I want to do in life?” around in your head, and flip it. “What impact do I want to make?”
Here’s why it works: For starters, you knock that third problem right off the list. By asking yourself what impact you want to make – i.e., who you want to help – you’re automatically hitting a need, and where there is a need, someone is willing to pay. You can only help someone if there is a need for help, so that makes the career prospects much more likely.
In addition, because it is outward looking, it’s more likely to sustain you. Look at the happiest, most successful people you know. They are that way not because they’re doing what they want to do, but because they believe in the impact they’re making in the world. Whether that’s by raising great children as a mother or representing underprivileged communities as an attorney, what keeps them going every day is others. Not that they love what they DO – because no one loves what they DO every day – but because they love how they help.
Whatever your struggle with finding your passion, you need to do something! Try something on this list to get moving and make sure you’re not stuck in the same place searching for your passion until retirement.
*Editor’s Note: This is an unsponsored external link to a great reference post on this author’s website.
- The Coping Creep: 3 Things Keeping You From Doing What You Really Want To Do - February 28, 2018
- The One Thing You Need to Make Your Dream a Reality - October 25, 2017
- The 3 Reasons Why You Haven’t Found Your Passion Yet (and What to Do Instead) - October 4, 2017