By Leo Babauta
If you dread going to your job, find yourself constantly lacking motivation, or find what you’re doing dull and repetitive, you need to start looking for a new job.
Picture this: You get up early, jump out of bed, excited to go to work. You might put in more hours than the average person, but it doesn’t seem difficult to you, because your work hours just zoom right by.
You are often in that state of mind, often referred to as “flow,” where you can lose track of the world and time, losing yourself in the task at hand. Work is not work as many people refer to it, but something that is fun and interesting and exciting. It’s not a “job” but a passion that leads to a fulfilling life.
What are you passionate about? If you’ve got a job you dislike or even hate, this will sound like a pipe dream to you. And if you never put in the effort to find what you’re passionate about, such a thing will never be possible.
However, if you dare to ask “how do I find my passion,” imagine the possibilities, and actually search for what you love, it is not only a possibility but a probability.
What Are You Passionate About?
If you could do one thing to transform your life, I would highly recommend it be to find something you’re passionate about and do it for a living. Learning how to find your passion may not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s well worth the effort. Passion for what you do could be the key to your wellbeing and overall happiness and satisfaction.
How do you go about learning how to find your passion in life? Here are some suggestions:
1. Is There Something You Already Love Doing?
What is your passion in life? Do you have a hobby or something you loved doing as a child, but never considered it as a possibility for a job?
Whether it’s reading comic books, collecting something, or creating or building, there is probably a way you could do it for a living. If there’s already something you love doing, you’re ahead of the game. Now you just need to research the possibilities of making money from it.
2. Find Out What You Spend Hours Reading About
For myself, when I get passionate about something, I’ll read about it for hours on end. I’ll buy books and magazines. I’ll spend days on the Internet finding out more.
There may be a few possibilities here for you, and all of them are possible career paths. Don’t close your mind to these topics. Look into them until you feel your heart is content, and this will help you get started as you learn how to find your passion.
If nothing comes to mind right away as you’re asking yourself how to find your passion, get out a sheet of paper and start writing down ideas. This doesn’t need to be an organized list. It can simply be a paper full of random notes or even doodles.
Studies have shown that writing things down on paper points to better memory recall and lead to more robust brain activation.
Look around your house, on your computer, or your bookshelf for inspiration, and write down whatever comes to mind. There are no bad ideas at this stage. All of this will eventually come in handy later – they could be clues to the things you are passionate about.
4. Ask Around
There are likely people you admire in life, and there are things about them that you would like to replicate in yourself. Go to them if possible, and pick their brain. See how they landed where they currently are and whether they feel they’ve discovered their passion.
The more possibilities you find, the more likely your chances of learning how to find your passion in the long run. This may mean that you spend time talking to friends and family, coworkers, or even acquaintances in your free time. If you have a mentor, ask them if they have time to connect over coffee or lunch.
5. Don’t Quit Your Job Just Yet
If you find your calling or your passion, don’t turn in your resignation tomorrow. It’s best to stay in your job while researching the possibilities.
If you can do your passion as a side job and build up the income for a few months or a year, that’s even better. It gives you a chance to build up some savings (and if you’re going into business for yourself, you’ll need that cash reserve) while practicing the skills you need.
6. Give It a Try First
It’s best to actually test your new idea before jumping into it as a career as you’re wondering how to find your passion. Do it as a hobby or side hustle at first so that you can see if it’s really your true calling.
You may be passionate about it for a few days, but where the rubber meets the road is whether you’re passionate about it for at least a few months.
If you pass this test, you have probably found it.
7. Do as Much Research as Possible
Know as much about your passion as possible. If this has been a passion for a while, you may have already been doing this. At any rate, do even more research.
Read every website on the topic, and buy the best books available to live a more fulfilling life. Find other people, either in your area or on the Internet, who do what you want to do for a living, and quiz them about the profession.
How much do they make, and what training and education do they need? What skills are necessary, and how did they get their start? What recommendations do they have?
Often, you’ll find that people are more than willing to give advice.
8. Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More
If you’re getting close to learning how to know your passion, don’t go into it with an amateur skill level. If you want to make money or want to be a professional, you need to have professional skills.
Get very good at your future career, and you will make money at it. Practice for hours on end and learn how to focus; if it’s something you love, the practice should be something you want to do and life fulfilling.
9. Never Quit Trying
It’s possible that you won’t be able to find your passion at first. However, if you give up after a few days, you’re sure to fail. Keep trying, for months on end if necessary, and you’ll find it eventually.
Perhaps you thought you found your passion but discovered several months on that it wasn’t for you. Start over again and find a new passion. There may be more than one passion in your lifetime, so explore all the possibilities.
Tracking your progress is another great way to reflect on your journey and see if there are adjustments that need to be made.
What is Holding You Back From Living Your Passion?
In addition to the suggestions above, be aware of these things that can hold you back from living your passion:
1. Negative Thoughts
Our thoughts are outside of our control. They come and go on their own accord. We don’t choose them, but rather they choose us.
However, what is within our control is how we respond to them. We can allow them to influence us, or we can just watch them go by. We can feed them or just ignore them. We have the gift of discernment and the freedom to choose.
So, when a negative thought comes to mind, something like—”I don’t deserve to be happy in my work so I should do something joyless just to pay the bills,”—why would we pay attention and, thereby, disempower ourselves?
Thoughts like “I can’t do that because…” followed by a list of reasons can hold us back as surely as chains, but they aren’t real—they are just thoughts.
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours” – author Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.
Changing your mindset to a positive one of your potential rather than your limits can help keep you engaged in your work. It’s all too easy to find excuses why we can’t do something or complain about what we don’t enjoy, but learning how to find your passion in life and fulfill purpose takes courage—and just a little bit of self-love.
2. Comfort is the Enemy of Passion
Comfort can prevent you from finding your passion in life just as contentment breeds complacency.
A steady job, regular income, and social recognition all contribute to a temptation to ‘play it safe.’ But how many people proactively planned to make a living in the way that it turned out compared with those who fell into a job, career, or profession by accident?
‘Work’ will always account for a huge proportion of our lives, and unless we continuously make conscious choices, we are leaving our destiny to chance. Decisions we make in our twenties typically tend to map out future decades as ‘sensible’ factors like experience, finances, and job security come into play.
Surprisingly, what may appear at the time to be a setback, such as a challenge at work or even losing your job, can sometimes be a gift—an opportunity to choose a different path.
It’s at this point in our lives that we may start to have ‘what if’ moments. But how much better would it be to preempt this with regular reflection and proactively plan our transition? This is the time to be very conscious and aware, to listen to our inner voice, watch our thoughts, and decide where to focus our attention.
TIPS ON HOW TO FIND PASSION
Go to the people you admire in life and ask how they landed to where they currently are and whether they feel they’ve discovered their passion
Seek advice from a mentor.
Reflect on what you learned throughout life and write down your ideas for how you can discover your passion. It can sometimes be hidden in hobbies.
Get out a sheet of paper and start writing down ideas. Don’t stress on making it organized, this is instead an activity to get all of your thoughts onto paper.
If you find something that sparks your interest, do your research. Read as much as you can about it and try giving this passion a try whether it be a hobby or side hustle.
These are the best tips on how to discover your passion. Don’t forget that all of this will be a lot of work, but it will be the best investment you’ve ever made. Put in the time to answer “what are you passionate about?” and you will find that your days are more fulfilling and produce more happiness and well-being in the long term.
Leo Babauta is the founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.
This article first appeared on the Life Hack website