There are so many people out there who appear to be living life “the right way” but aren’t feeling “right” about it at all. They might have a steady job, a comfortable home, a lively social life, but they find themselves feeling unfulfilled.
I know a lot of people who were super focused on their planned path in life, as if it could be boiled down to a formula.
They’re mostly hard workers with a lot of drive, who start out with a very clear idea of what their life should look like. But once they reach their destination—often times ahead of schedule!—they find themselves with a bit of a hollow victory.
These people aren’t bad. They’re not more or less materialistic than anyone else. Often, they have great relationships with their family and friends.
So what’s missing?
The answer for many of them appears to be passion.
In all of their planning, they failed to take into consideration what they actually love to do. So even though they’ve reached their goal, they’re left spending tons of time—at work and otherwise—doing things they’re not all that passionate about.
The other sort of people who seem to have this same problem are those who are treading water, biding their time doing something that they know they don’t really like. They’re waiting for inspiration to strike, or maybe for the perfect opportunity to come knocking.
But your passion isn’t going to randomly bang on your door, and it’s never smart to get comfortable in a rut.
If you’ve found this blog post, chances are, you fall into one of these categories. So how do you fix this? In this post, I’ve compiled some tips for finding your passion.
Now, I strongly believe that with the right tools and plenty of hard work, you could turn almost anything into a profitable business. That being said, you need to take a look at your passions and decide if they need to be your source of income.
There’s a chance that making a passion into a your day job could take it from fulfilling to…well, just work.
So, if at the end of these exercises, you find that your passion might be difficult to translate into a day job, be open to other options.
It’s possible that you could make your woodworking hobby into a small online business. Perhaps you start training as a docent at a museum in your city. Or maybe you begin volunteering at local animal shelters rather than going to veterinary school.
The important thing is that you’re making space in your life for your passion. Finding your passion is just step number one. From there, you have to be willing to prioritize it.
Sometimes this can lead to a small profit on the side, sometimes it can lead to a total career change. The degree of commitment you devote to your passion is up to you and what is realistic for your life.
A good place to start when you’re on the road to finding your passion is with what you already do with your spare time.
What are the things you turn to when you have a day to burn? And I’m not talking about a television show that you binge until Netflix sends you the little “Are you still watching?” prompt.
I’m talking about that hike you went on last month, or the painting class you were planning on signing up for again, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I’m talking about the things you would do if you didn’t have to work eight hours a day, five days per week.
Chances are, if you make the effort to spend your free time on it, that activity or pastime could be one of your passions. It’s up to you to decide how to act on that knowledge—whether you finally sign up for that class or start training to hike the Appalachian trail.
When you were a kid, you weren’t preoccupied with whether or not something you did was fulfilling. You did what you wanted to do!
(Or, you did what your parents wanted you to do, and you dragged your feet every step of the way—but that’s not what we’re talking about here.)
It can be helpful to look back at what you really loved doing as a kid, before you were weighed down with expectations about productivity or profit. Then, take a look at where those activities apply to your adult life.
Did you love spending summer afternoons in the garden with your grandparents? Do you have any plants in your home now?
Was soccer season the best part of your year? Have you thought about coaching a kids’ team or joining an adult team in your area?
Maybe you were a voracious reader who wrote stories to share with your family. There are tons of online resources for freelance writing work. If your writing style has a more creative bent, look into community writing workshops and online publishing options.
The main point of this exercise is to remove the pressures of adult thinking and to think about what you would do with your time if you could do anything.
Regardless of your childhood interests and how they translate to your current tastes, it’s a good idea to cultivate space in your life for things that inspire no-strings-attached excitement.
Some advice out there will tell you to quit your monotonous day job because then you’ll feel urgent about finding your passion.
That’s exactly what I did when I quit my job doing document review at a prominent law firm here in Richmond, VA. I launched my own firm with no clients and no office.
I definitely felt the urgency, but I also didn’t jump out of the plane without a parachute.
Even though I was aiming to start a law firm, I let myself make money in other ways. While my law firm was getting off the ground, I did freelance web work and I wrote ebooks that I sold on Amazon.
With an encouraging support system which included my spouse, family, and other mentors, I was ultimately able to achieve success.
If you are considering leaving your day job, surround yourself with a strong support system. Set aside some savings first, and let yourself experiment making an income through all of your passions. If supporting my family hadn’t come through my law firm, but through web design or book writing, I think I would have been just as happy.
Remember, this is your life. Every day that you spend not doing what you’re passionate about is a missed opportunity.
The idea of crafting a happier future should be enough inspire you to take action and overcome your reticence. If it doesn’t, you should take a closer look at what you’re actually hoping to improve by finding your passion.
If you’re concerned with finding your passion, there’s a good chance that you’ve found yourself going through your days while functioning on autopilot. While there are mindfulness strategies out there that help with this sort of thing, some external changes may be in order to shake off the monotony of your every day.
If your passions aren’t obvious to you, consider trying to feed your curiosity. Curiosity breeds creativity and innovation, which can reveal strengths and weaknesses you weren’t aware of before.
Remove yourself from your comfort zone and discover new things about yourself. There are tons of ways to try new things for free, and you may stumble upon a talent or interest you never knew you had.
It could also be a good idea to talk to your boss or coworkers about opportunities for professional development. Maybe you don’t totally hate your field—you just aren’t feeling totally engaged with your particular position.
Conferences and classes could unveil a new facet of your industry that you find exciting, which means you may not have to uproot and start from scratch in the process of finding your passion.
If you’re hoping to turn your passion into your main source of income, it’s a good idea to think in terms of security rather than wealth.
At least when you start out, your priority should be paying the bills while doing something you truly find fulfilling. This might mean that you take a pay cut by leaving your cushy desk job to start your own business.
And that’s okay.
The rewards that come with doing work that you find meaningful and enjoyable should more than make up for not being able to buy that fancy car right away.
In the process of finding your passion, it’s important that you recognize that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re hoping to make your passion into your career, it’s likely going to take lots of hard work and personal sacrifice.
If you want to center your passion outside of work, you’ll probably have to give up on spending that time on other things. But chances are, you won’t mind skipping an expensive night out so that you can wake up early the next day for your kayaking trip, or to work on your vintage car, or to make it to that course on teaching yoga.
It’s also possible that your true passion is a lot less concrete than any one activity. Maybe your real passion is working with people, or nature, or technology. Whatever the answer is, it’s possible to reshape your life around it in some way.
Because finding your passion is just the first part of a long process. You have to take action once you know what your passion is. Only then will you find yourself living more passionately.
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LAWYER & ONLINE ENTREPRENEUR
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, I struggled to find work, pay my bills, and make ends meet. That's when I decided to take control of my future and start working for myself. Now, several years and a handful of companies later, I'm sharing how I launched a successful business, and how you can do it too.