Many people, particularly as they accumulate years of work experience, find they have a growing desire to put passion into their life and career. My observation about why this takes place is that as we grow in life experiences a lot of the excitement or "newness" diminishes. We simply have been there and done that enough that our threshold for what will rock our world continues to go up. It's increasingly harder to get that same level of excitement.
As we recognize that this element of excitement is missing, it can trigger us to go in search of something we can feel passionate about. We often look around us seeing others in careers that bring them incredible joy - something they are passionate about - and we want that same feeling for ourselves. We remember how it feels to have something in our lives that consumes our thoughts and makes the hours flow quickly. The biggest issue with going in search of your life and career passion is: HOW do you discover your passion?
All too many people think that your passion just comes to you like a thunderbolt from the heavens. In other words, we think for some people it just magically appears. This leaves the rest of us to feel unlucky because the magic hasn't happened. Finding your passion is something we all have access to. It might seem magical, but it is simply a process, like most things in our lives, and requires turning off the TV and taking some actions.
Here are 5 simple steps that will lead you to your passion:
1- Start first with what you already know you're interested in. Sit down and write out a list of all the things you have some interest in trying, but never have. Your whole process requires self honesty and it starts here. Don't list anything just because of someone else's interests. If you aren't genuinely interested, don't list it. It's also important to create this master list as it will live on perhaps for the rest of your life. As you try things on the list, you may eliminate some and add others.
a. You must realize that this is a discovery and experimentation process. You need to proceed with a certain playfulness and curiosity. You are going to try these things, probably for the first time, and you have no idea how they will turn out. In fact, you need to assume that while you may enjoy many of those activities, most of them will not turn into a passion.
b. Because most of the activities you try will not turn into a true passion, you need to develop self-patience with no self-judgment. Have fun with the process. Be open to new discoveries. You will find your passion, just be patient and trust the process. Don't criticize yourself if it doesn't happen immediately.
c. You do not need to limit your list to only things that seem related to a job. When you find a passion, you may well be able to turn it into an income opportunity, if you choose.
2- Make goals. You can't just make a list. You have to take action. Like all great goals, they have the characteristics of 1) being specific 2) having a time for completion 3) and are actionable. A bad example: I will solve world hunger. This goal is missing all of the key characteristics. A good example: I will enroll and take glass blowing classes starting no later than Sept 2010. Setting goals for your drive to passion means you will hold yourself accountable for making something happen in your life.
3- Get curious and go in search. Your biggest asset on your quest to find passion is to get curious about your environment and what other people are doing. Ask questions. Let one thing create a thread to others that you continue to follow. There are an unlimited number of things out there that people are doing and others who are inventing more things to do. Surround yourself with people who are passionate about the work they are doing or with people on a quest like you. Having others in your life, who are excited about life, will drive your process forward. It's great to have daily doses of inspiration.
4- Record your results. To get the most out of your exploration, you need to spend time in introspection. You need to think about each action you take and your reactions to them. This will help you understand what works for you and what doesn't. What you learn about yourself as you move forward will help inform your next steps. Consider keeping a discovery journal. If you do best debriefing your actions by talking, consider asking a person who is also going through a quest for passion to help you. You can ask each other deep probing questions and deepen the learning.
5- Repeat. Don't try something just once. Give any new endeavor a chance to capture your interest by getting past the new start up roughness. Continue to move through the steps exploring, experimenting and learning until you discover the passion you are looking for.
Discovering something you can feel passionate about will greatly enhance your life and career. It is not magical nor is it difficult, but it does take effort. As long as you stay open about the possibilities and continually entertain new things, you will find the passion you want in your life.