It's a tough ride if you can't figure out how to find your passion — while everyone else is out pursuing dreams and building up their careers, you're left behind trying to figure out which way to go. It can be frustrating and more than a little worrisome when you see everyone else taking off without you and moving on to big exciting things. But how exactly do you find out what you're passionate about? What if you just never one of those people that just knew they wanted to be a writer or have been solving math problems since the first grade? What if you like many things, but aren't obsessed with any of them? Or can see yourself trying out many different careers, but know you won't be one of those people that wake up excited to start the day?
Well, you don't have to think that way. You just have to give yourself the time to explore your options, try on different hats, and sift through everything and anything that catches your interest. It's a bit of a journey, but well worth it when you finally find that one thing that sparks with you. Below are seven tips on how to find your passion if you don't have one — try them out and see where you end up.
1. Notice What You Like Reading About
Reading takes commitment: You have to turn off the TV, stop the Instagram scrolling, and give an article or book your complete and total attention. If you're able to do that and become absorbed with what you're reading, chances are you're pretty passionate about the topic. And if you're passionate about it, it can give you your first clue on which way to head when trying to figure out what to do with your life.
Lifestyle writer Leo Babauta at Life Hack suggested, "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." If it's Vogue you love, something in style can be up your alley. If you love reading about quirky marketing ideas, advertisement can be your calling, or if you enjoy think pieces writing could be what interests you. Take stock of what you click on, and start seeing the underlying reason why it interests you.
2. Find An Inspiring Tribe
Maybe you have an inkling what you're passionate about, but you're scared to follow it through. What if it's something notoriously hard to get into, like acting or creating art? What if it's too big of a switch, like moving from being an accountant into being a Kindergarten teacher? To help you stop that knee-jerk reaction of fear, build yourself an inspiring tribe to look up to.
Babauta pointed out, "How many of your friends and family are following their passions? If it’s not many, it might be time to expand your circle; associate with—and be inspired by—men and women who are inspired by their work." This doesn't have to be in real life: Follow badass women on Twitter that are making their dreams happen, sign up to newsletters of people succeeding in your interest, follow along on blog posts that talk about their journey and how they're crushing their day. It'll inspire.
3. See What You Loved Doing As A Kid
Still not entirely sure where to start? Why don't you look back to what you loved doing as a kid? According to Lisa Girard, business writer at Entrepreneur, "Make a list of all the things you remember enjoying as a child. Would you enjoy that activity now? For example, Frank Lloyd Wright, America's greatest architect, played with wooden blocks all through childhood and perhaps well past it."
In the second grade, I used to write novels on construction paper and sell them to my dad, and now I'm a writer. There was probably something in your past that you were obsessed with doing that you can translate into a possible career.
4. Find Your Umbrella
We all have more than just one interest, and if you combine a few of them together you could have a possible career option. To find out what's possible, write down all your passions on one list and see if you can mold a job out of it.
Business writer Corrina Gordon-Barnes wrote for career development site The Muse, "Let’s say you love French, drinking coffee, playing with words, analyzing and categorizing, and being a leader within a community. How could you construct a career from these? It'd be like peering into your cupboard and seeing cocoa powder, tofu, and carrots and wondering: How could I possibly make something delicious that includes all of these? This is the time to look beyond the ingredients and seek an umbrella; something that all of these ingredients can fit beneath." For example, if you like connecting with people but also helping build brands, you can be a social media manager. If you like bossing people around but prefer to listen more than talk, you can be a counselor. See, so many possibilities!
5. Ignore The Fear
While trying to figure out your passion, it's really important not to let your fear put in its two-cents during the sifting. If you do, you won't let yourself truly explore what you're capable of and what will make you the most happy. Gordon-Barnes pointed out, "We all have a huge number of fears — around failure, success, visibility, and vulnerability — that speak in sensible voices, instructing us that we mustn’t do what we love. If you let these voices win, your passion will remain out of your grasp." Instead, give yourself the chance to leap. You'll never know if you're capable of it unless you give yourself the permission to try.
6. Think About When You Feel The Most Alive
When in your life do you feel truly excited? When do you forget to look at the clock or don't want the day to end? Those moments that get you really excited to dig your hands in hold hints about what you should be doing with your life. Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of The Acumen Fund, told career-development site Fast Company that it’s important to think about "that time and place where you feel most alive—whether it’s when you’re solving a problem, creating, connecting with someone, traveling." Do you feel amazing after a big presentation, do you love meeting people at giant parties, or maybe you feel super satisfied staying up in the night drawing or planning. Those moments that give you sparks are hints where you should be looking in terms of passion and career choices.
7. Begin Test Driving Options
You can plan, read all the self-help books, and weigh options all you want, but the real way to figure out what your true passion is is to get out there and do it. Quoting Herminia Ibarra, author of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career, Warren Berger from Fast Company points out, "To launch ourselves anew, we need to get out of our heads...We need to act. That means devising a series of trials and errors: [look] for temporary assignments, outside contracts, advisory work, and moonlighting to get experience or build skills in new industries." Actually test drive a possible passion; get an internship, offer to freelance, dip your feet into the water and see how you like it. Only then will you know if it's right.
The path of finding a passion is as different for people as the passions themselves; what works for someone else may not work for you, but the process of finding what it is that makes you tick is often the best part.