The 10 Most Likely Reasons You Haven’t Found Your Life Passion

Depending on which survey you read and where you live, somewhere between 70-80% of people are just plain miserable with their jobs.

If you spend 8 or more hours a day on the job, that counts for more than half of your waking hours during which you are either actively unhappy or just sporadically satisfied.

Of course unhappiness on the job has to spill over into the other areas of your life. If you are stressed, frustrated, undervalued, anxious, or bored, it will impact your relationships.

It will undermine your ability to relax and enjoy the time you spend away from work. And it could certainly impact your physical and mental health.

Far too many people are living lives of quiet desperation. They have jobs they hate, then come home to plod through chores and a few hours of TV, before returning to their miserable work the next day. They are not living passionately. They are not expressing their deepest desires, their inner calling, their authentic selves — through their work or otherwise.

When we live this way, the very essence of who we are and what makes us come alive, gets bottled up inside us. When we live this way for too many years, our frustrated souls call out for help through depression, anger, illness, or some form of self-sabotage.

In fact, Thomas More, a psychotherapist and author of the book Care of the Soul : A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life, reminds that the most common reason he sees people in in therapy relates to “repression of the life-force.” When we don’t explore and nurture this life force, when we deny it expression in our work or lives, we are truly killing part of ourselves.

man thinking very hard life passion

As Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want, discovered in her research that happiness isn’t achieved through working long hours to make more money in order to buy more things. Happiness is achieved as a byproduct of expressing our life force through satisfying interpersonal connections, acts of kindness, focused engagement in what we are doing, and gratitude for what we have.

If you’ve been longing for your passion and waiting to find it, perhaps you’ve been searching in the wrong place. Or perhaps your perception of what it means to have a passionate life has been skewed by messages you’ve received from your parents, your peers, or our culture.

If you’ve wondered why you haven’t found your life passion and are deeply frustrated and fearful you may never find it, I encourage you to take heart. Your passion is there inside of you. It’s your “life-force” begging to be released and expressed in the world in some way.

Perhaps you just need some awareness around what’s been holding it back. Here are some on likely reasons that you haven’t found your life passion:

1. You haven’t committed the time required.

Finding your life passion requires more than wishing and hoping. It requires more than an occasional internet search or sending out a few resumes. It takes a commitment to the self-work involved in learning more about who you really are, what motivates and inspires you, and what internal and external roadblocks exist that get in your way. It takes a weekly commitment of a few hours to this work for several months.

2. You believe finding the “right job” is the key to your passion.

As I mentioned earlier, unhappiness on the job does taint your entire life. That’s why so many people begin their passion search by seeking a different job. But really you should begin the search by seeking yourself, seeking what you love — what makes you come alive. Then start practicing that thing in your own time. The details of how it will ultimately express itself in your life will evolve. Maybe through your work, maybe otherwise. But once you find what you love, you’ll find a way to do it.

Related: How To Find Your Passion And Do The Work You Love

3. You’ve over-complicated your life.

If you are distracted by all of the tasks and responsibilities of your lifestyle, then you don’t have the time or mental energy to pursue your passion. If you are already overwhelmed, then the notion of expending more energy to work on uncovering your life passion is ridiculous. Let go of some things, delegate, and clear out the clutter of your life so you can focus on finding your passion.

4. You listen to your own negative voices.

You have a cacophony of naysayers in your brain telling you all of the reasons you can’t change your life. You can’t afford it. You might fail. Your spouse will leave you. Your life will go to hell in a hand-basket. But you have no solid evidence that what those voices are telling you holds any truth. Ignore the naysayers. Stop listening to your negative voices and take action in spite of them.

5. You spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing.

In fact, spend just enough time in your head to brainstorm ideas, create strategies, and analyze potential challenges. Once you ponder those practical things, stop thinking and start doing. Take action on the ideas and inclinations. Action creates momentum, a sense of control over your destiny, and feelings of self-esteem.

man sleeping on brown grass with his hat covering his face life passion

6. You aren’t financially prepared.

Uncovering your passion and then figuring out how to make it part of your life will involve some amount of money. Whether you decide to go back to school, start a business, begin learning an instrument, take time off to write a book, move to new city — whatever your passion might involve — it will likely cost you something. But if you are in debt, or living paycheck to paycheck, or overspending on material things, or simply not saving, you are not financially prepared. Start getting your financial house in order so you have the cash you need to uncover and actualize your passion.

Related: The Life Passion Journal: Journal Your Way To Your Dream Life

7. You have emotional “stuff” to address first.

If you are dealing with relationship problems, issues from your past, major life difficulties in the present, or emotional health challenges, these things need to be addressed before you can uncover your passion. In fact, addressing these things might actually help you uncover your passion. As you clear up problems in your life, you will create emotional space, energy, and creativity to focus on your passion. Talk to a counselor, coach, or other helping professional to work through these problems.

8. You fear making the wrong decision.

This is one of the most common reasons people never begin the search for their passion. They’re confused about what it might be, and even if they have some idea, they aren’t 100% sure. We want a solid guarantee that our efforts will be fruitful and that we won’t waste time and money. But finding your passion involves trial and error. You must experiment and test your potential passion before you know it really is your passion. In fact you may need to try several things before you land on the right one. But every experiment gives you valuable information. It is never a waste.

9. You believe it will arrive with trumpets blaring.

We tend to think that life passion will hit us like a thunderbolt. One day we’ll wake up and realize we should be a drum majorette or fire chief. But it very rarely happens this way. Finding your passion involves more of an “unfoldment” rather than a light bulb turning on. It is a slow realization, in the same way you might realize the person you’ve been dating is the one you want to spend your life with. Have patience as you work toward understanding yourself and figuring out where your desires, values and skills intersect with what the world needs.

10. You don’t trust yourself.

Your passion has been whispering to you ever since you were old enough to recognize what you enjoy, what fills you up and makes time disappear. But over time, the voice of your inner self has been silenced by all of the other voices you hear — your own and others. When you get back in touch with your inner self, your intuition, and your deepest desires, you’ll find you know more about what you want than you give yourself credit for. The key is practicing trust in that inner voice.

31 thoughts on “The 10 Most Likely Reasons You Haven’t Found Your Life Passion”

  1. I’d say I actually have multiple passions (circus/aerials and humanitarian related work) but haven’t really been able to make a career of either…
    But I did take a month off from work last winter and chased my dream a little. I went to the Dominican Republic and did a month of circus school, and loved every… single… minute! Unfortunately it’s not something I can really do all the time for a number of reasons. So for now I just have to settle for one day a week at my local circus school, and working towards putting my international health degree to better use than sitting in an office doing something not at all related. I am taking more courses to give me more of the valuable skills i need to further my ‘saving the world’ career, so it’s a step in the right direction.

    • Megan,
      That is a wonderful way to balance living your passion and doing your humanitarian work. As long as you can live your passion in some area of your life, you are ahead of most people. And who knows what might transpire with your circus experiences. Maybe you can create your own circus as a way to support your humanitarian efforts. What if you could combine the two??

  2. My quite desperation is my silent killer. I want to live out loud, I need to live out loud, I must live out loud…
    (I seek a transformation into) I AM LIVING OUT LOUD!

  3. I listen to my own negative self talk, such as: you don’t deserve to have good things in your life, I know I spend way too much time thinking and way too little (if any) time doing and I do not trust myself to admit what I really, truly want to do and have. I am always settling for what is placed before me or for what is easy to get or for what I think is all I can get.
    This was an enlightening post.
    Thanks for inspiring me. Hopefully, I will learn to tell myself good and productive things, I will learn what actions I can take to replace some the never-ending thought life I possess and I will admit the truth to myself about those things for which I truly care.
    I do believe in my heart of hearts that some day I will understand about what I passionately care and will have what I truly want in life.

    • Lois,
      There is no one in the world more damaging to our sense of joy in life than we are to ourselves with negative self-talk. Begin your passion journey with learning self-compassion. Self-compassion is far more valuable than self-esteem, because everyone is flawed and makes mistakes. When we can accept our flaws lovingly and laugh at them, then we gain self-esteem. Not by being perfect or living up to other people’s expectations. Define what you want for your life, accept that you are worth it even as a flawed individual (like everyone else in the world), and take action even if you feel afraid. The more you do this, the less afraid you will feel.

  4. I know they say “never look back” but I find myself doing that too often, I hate to admit. Upon graduating from college with two bachelors degrees I was swamped with student loan debt, not to mention pretty burned out (I did a music degree (voice performance) & a psychology degree). With that said, although I was accepted to several grad schools for either Social Work, Social Service Administration or Marriage/Family Psychology I decided to take the route of entering the work force to make money (advertising). I’ve been here ever since & although it’s been lucrative my soul longs to chase paths along the lines of Music therapy, Occupational Therapy, or Counseling. However, I am also the bread winner of our household so being able to pursue my passions isn’t an option right now, especially considering we’re trying to start a family (which will cost $ due to some unforeseen reproductive obstacles) along with trying to save money so that (hopefully) I’ll be able to stay at home with our future child for at least a few years (which is also a tiny dream). I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to make my dream career a reality (especially since I’m still in debt from my undergrad). I’m happy to be able to help contribute to our HH income (go woman power) but my soul longs for a career change….

  5. I was never encouraged to figure out what I WANTED to do with my life, I was just SUPPOSED to grow up, get married and be a great wife and mother the rest of my life. (pretty vague, huh?) Now, after years of just working to pay the bills, I’m discovering how wonderful it can be to enjoy your work and the people you work with. My actual tasks/job isn’t fulfilling, but it’s certainly more pleasant than previous ones and I work with the absolute BEST group of people now. I’d like to discover HOW to find your own passion and how to translate this idea of life force expression into everyday terms so I can share that with my son (now 26 and completely unsure of where to go in his career).

  6. Thank you for this post. Your writings always lead me into a positive direction. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for over 15 yrs. With my husband traveling so much, my concentration has mainly been on the children. Now we’re putting both kids through college. I want to put a deeper, more meaningful focus on my fine art, but I can’t identify what I’m passionate about anymore. My motivation is gone. Your course could help me break through barriers and open my awareness again.

  7. I think I found what I love to do. It’s been a rough year for me – my husband of 15 years and father of our 4 great kids decided last March that he wasn’t “happy” and left. He is still around and involved with our children, but it is certainly NOT the same! There IS a silver lining, though. He has never been supportive of anything I have ever wanted to do and I decided it was time to start my home-based sewing school! I have a master’s degree in teaching (elementary) and am a self taught sewist. I have sewn a bunch of things over the years for myself, kids and friends. I thought, “Hey! Why not?!?!” It has been something I have thought about for a while now and this is my opportunity to go for it. I JUST had 2 “try it out” classes today and they went REALLY well!! I am so excited! I do struggle with the negative self-talk, though. It’s that voice that says, “you are not good enough.” I try to not listen to it – it’s not truth.

    I love your blog! Thanks so much for what you do!

  8. I have been working in the same career for over 15 years. I went to college and got a bachelors degree in Biology but unfortunately every grad school I had apply to has failed to accept me. This has taken a huge toll on my self esteem for the past several years. I am very unhappy at my job because my boss constantly micromanages me and its gotten so unbearable that I cry almost every night while looking for other job listings and then realizing that te situation might change, but not my happiness. I need to discover what my true purpose in life is since I feel that I have been in the wrong path for so long. I just dot know where or how to start doing it.

  9. I’ve been on this time for quite some time now, trying different things, getting better, happier bit by bit but still not “there” yet. I have a good life and so much to be grateful for, and yet, the sense of living a life of passion still eludes me. I’d love to do your course Barrie, have been wanting to work with you for a long time now…and within a few months I’ll have the finances to do just that…

    I really could use your professional help to put together the final pieces of the jigsaw Barrie! Since I started my passion-quest just 10 years ago I’ve achieved quite a lot by myself…gone back to school, done a lot of self-reflection, tried lots of jobs in new fields to see what I enjoyed most and also done short mini-courses to expand my portfolio of skills. I’ve developed a property by myself, financed it by myself and also found a boss and work culture where I can develop further in the last year. Still looking for that elusive passion though :D!! My “flow” moments are mostly when I go to a really good dance class….hard to find and afford at the moment. So yeah, I know I can set myself goals…but not quite yet able to be my best version of myself…

  10. I have not pursued those things which give me butterflies in my stomach and a rush of delight and set my my mind to daydreaming. I have always created movie scenes in my head with myself as the main actress. Or daydreamed about giving inpirational speeches to large audiences. I give literary and movie critiques to my poor family and friends, whether they asked or not. Recently I have had a fire in my belly to create a business, not a litte one, based on my writing or this product I have conceptiualized. Why have I never taken major steps toward any of these? Fear that I don’t have what it takes. That they are silly dreams or only for the few special ones. That I am too old and need to secure my financial future in a more conventional way. Secretly I long to break the barrier of fear.

  11. I feel like everything I want or am passionate about are always opposite of each other. I get stuck in the middle afraid to go one way or the other. I’d love some help to find out why I can’t move forward with anything….

  12. I am complete, dyed-in-the-wool practitioner of Analysis Paralysis. I think about starting a new business or project for months or even years, making *sure* that I’ve thought everything out down to the smallest detail. I don’t write things down I suppose because it means in some way that I’m moving forward and leaving the comfort of the planning stage. It’s comfortable because if you plan but don’t ever start, you don’t fail! It doesn’t seem to matter to my brain that the cost of not failing is not succeeding. I’m tired of living in fear of failing. I’m ready to move forward.

  13. HI, It was much after talking to my son (11 yrs old), and still after 3 yrs of a divorce, and having to having to move them in with the ex so I could get my life started over again. In a nut shell I lost everything through the divorce and made the sacrifice to move out of state. Oh the guilt I have felt and sent an email to my mom just last week and really feeling down, I typed in the words “How to get your groove back” and I found your site under such a typing. Odd I know but maybe good luck, after feeling really depressed I started reading and everything you said spoke to me. One thing was to check off that my babies are Happy and I know it wouldnt have happened if I was still living in the same state as their dad. Two well, since leaving the state a friend got me a job at the nursing home she worked at I started in housekeeping. After a little bit of time I made my way into the CNA class and made it 10 out of 45 people and was one of the oldest in the class. Now this was 3 yrs ago, again I made the move to out in the mid-west and got a job working with our Veterans, still as a CNA but there are so many avenues I just dont know which way to go. I still want direct contact of some sort just not sure of what it should pretain to. I’m still working on getting caught up on things and want to do my babies proud. Plus the fact I work alot of hours and just enough money to pay rent and pay the bills and child support being taken out, and I know before long the alimony will run out and well am just stuck to be honest. Not really good with math and know some of the schooling for nursing involves that The time is another thing, the will I make the right decision so I can live and get above the poverty level. With being a CNA its rewarding and the paycheck I figure is the bonus. But in reality I would love to find what direction I need to go, so I can still love what I do and be able to take care of me too. I have told so many people at work and my mom is proud because she knows the struggle I have made in order to get going. Its not a pity party I want I just want to do a better job and with so many avenues where to start? Thank you

  14. I’m in my mid-late 20s. Happily living with a wonderful boyfriend of almost 2 years after giving up looking (sad, young, i know) after some bad experiences. We’re talking life, rings, homes & babies. We’re raising a puppy. He is in management at a successful software company. I’ve been in sales & business development myself for 6+ years now & am working my way up the totem pole as well.

    This was just 2 months ago. Now, I’m unemployed, sleeping in, doing yoga, playing with my dog, and most importantly soul searching. I’ve always been a person who focused on their heart when others didn’t. I thought I had lost that…become jaded. Turns out, I haven’t. You probably haven’t either.

    I was laid off from my favorite sales job to date after about a year due to an acquisition back in Spring of 2012. Basically, I didn’t make the cut! I thought, masking my feelings of defeat, “What a great opportunity, I can reevaluate life & find what I really want! I can get out of sales & help people or do something fulfilling!”

    Somehow, within a couple of months of half-ass searching for something more, I was referred to another “AMAZING” sales job with so much opportunity. Something seemed to be shoving itself in me & my goals for myself. Peers suggested sticking to my guns about starting fresh. I agreed, however, the things I wanted to do were “hard” & time consuming…I can’t do that much soul searching…I don’t have time…etc….basically I wasn’t totally committed so I took the easy route.

    I worked my ass off to get this “new” job & there I was, happy-ish. 🙂 3 months later, I was laid off again, budget cuts… For those of you who aren’t familiar, the software sales industry in San Francisco is inundated with Start-Up companies with somewhat minimal funding & good/great ideas but lacking structure & know-how to execute. This breeds an incredibly high-risk-high-reward opportunity and individuals often get caught in a pipe dream of being the next big thing.

    Despite my down spirits about being jobless again, I thought “I’m going to figure out something else”…This time I had decided I KNOW I want out of sales… No questions, I’m doing something else….FFW to 2 weeks later & someone pings me on LinkedIn, and “OMG babe this company is different!” I say to my wonderful boyfriend….I get/take the job, and here I am again, sitting at a desk, making 50-100 calls per day, hating life. I watched the clock, fell asleep even…And then about 2 weeks ago IT FREAKING HIT ME…I need to quit! I ran it by the BF on the spot (during work! maybe 11am!). I wasn’t expecting his full support, but that is all that I got. There it was. I quit after lunch. Awkward but amicable…who cares?!

    It’s been just over 2 weeks & I’ve never been more committed to myself. I quit looking for jobs & started looking for what feeds my soul. Since that day I’ve realized how many things I used to enjoy and do in my free time that are so far from me now. I used to write fiction stories & poetry & draw and was connected to music & art & so many other things. What happened to me over the years?

    Today was the first day of my official efforts to find the lost pieces of myself. I’ve never read an article that spoke to me as directly as this one, EVER. Every word. I need & want this course to help me through this process of finding my passion and myself.

    Thank you for this!


  15. I now find myself at a crossroads, trying to figure out what I’m suppose to be doing. Financial challenges, work and wanting to spend more time with family keep me from focusing on what it is I really want to be doing. This course sounds like the perfect way for me to challenge myself and focus on what is really important to me and uncover and discover my true passion. Thank you for putting this together.

  16. I’ll be contrary and argue that while ‘reasons’ are how people consciously justify not chasing their passions, the underlying cause is an unconscious avoidance of change.

    My old boss used to say (of voluntary retirement or changing jobs) “When the pain of staying is greater than the pain of going, go.”

    So perhaps the 11th reason underpins the others. When you are not uncomfortable enough you won’t change.

  17. I recently discovered that a degree in Anthropology covers many of my interests. Originally I went to college (20 years ago – did not finish degree) to do costuming for film and theater. While I have dabbled in that through independent film in my area and through my local Steampunk community, costuming is not really the passion I thought it was for me. I love it but I like the reasons behind choices as opposed to designing costumes. I am in the beginning stages of trying to figure out where to go with this new realization.

    Over the past year I have been through some major trials, a divorce and the subsequent financial issues plus the death of a parent. I now find myself coming through the fog so to speak and in a wonderful new supportive relationship. I have the time now to dedicate to my passion and am super excited. With this new relationship thoughts I had about my future have changed dramatically. One thing I want to do is take my existing blog that I have had for several years and fit it to my new life.

  18. Hello Barrie,
    Thanks for another inspirational post, your posts make my day so much better!
    Well, the general problem in my case is that I am interested in so many things: art, science, writting, fitness, psychology etc. and I have tried so many hobbies so far. I am an active person and totally unpatient and that is a problem. Whenever I try something new and it goes good, I like it, but I become fed up quickly and I give up. I think I could use more patience, persistance and self confidence to find my real passion and start live it!

  19. Number 8 is my favorite. Learning how to let go of fear, and take risks can be the most valuable experiences we ever have! Great post! Very insightful – Thank you 🙂

  20. I have slowly started the road to finding my passion. I have a successful career but I recently recognized that it is not my passion. It is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. We can be good at many things but I asked myself, am I happy doing this? The answer is “no.” Simple. So what am I going to do about it. I am trying to get over my fears = road blocks. I know I need to get past them but where to start. I would love to participate The Path to Passion because I truly believe that getting to that place where there is joy in what you do every day has got to be a journey and no amount of wishing it wll make it happen.

  21. Hi Barrie, thanks so much for this post. It’s so reasuring to find information on the topic of living out your passion and to see that so many others are going through the same thing. I’ve spent the past 9 years trying to figure out what my passion is but have yet to figure it out. I make lists of my interests/hobbies/likes all the time to try and inspire ideas of how to make them a part of my daily life. After years of talking talking thinking thinking I finally realized that if I didn’t take action I would regret even more of my years. So, I’ve challenged myself to try 365 new things in 365 days in an effort to get out of my routine, get out of my head and expose myself to new opportunities/people/places/ideas. It’s been great so far. I’ve not had any big steps forward in finding my passion but at least feel that I’ve changed my life for the better. Anyways, hopefully in the very near future I will find a way to change even more and to realize my passion. Thank you for what you do. It is a blessing to all of us readers and you are very appreciated.

    • Hi Jilayne,
      Wow, good for you! That is quite an undertaking to try something new every day. One thing you might consider — it usually takes some level of commitment, experience, and proficiency with something before it becomes your passion. I would suggest you pick one thing to work on for a year, getting really deeply entrenched in it. Then you will have far more information to go on in order to know if it’s your passion. You might check out my site which is devoted specifically to helping people with their life passions.

  22. I am very new to blogging and am desperatly trying to figure out how to live with passion. I raised 7 children as a single parent and now have 14 wonderful grandchildren. I became a nurse when I first was deserted by my husband in 1995, but discovered 3 years ago that I have 2 fractered vertabrae which cause constant bouts of siatica, as well as, osteoarthritis in my hips and knees. I need to figure out my passion and how I am going to finacially get through the rest of my life as I can not do any heavy workloads now which allows my only a few shifts per payday. I love to write, songwrite, compose music, paint, play the harp, photography (ALL, nature, portraits etc…), I am very empathetic and person oriented and would love it if my career did not need to change but I also have a passion for all I have listed and no notice of time while doing any of them???? I need to somehow get focused as for the last few years I don’t do much with any of them because I’m trying so hard to figure out which one is the one I could survive finacialy on. I have NO income if I don’t work at I do not have any kind of coverage.I am 58 years old so I probably have a fair bit of life left ahead of me. HELP!!!


    • Hi Carol,
      Thanks so much for sharing your story with me here. I’m sorry you are having a hard time with health challenges that are impacting your work. But how great that you have so many interests and potential passions. I would suggest you get my Path to Passion course which will be available Monday, October 28. It will help you figure out what passion to pursue and how to go about making it part of your life and work. Here’s the link to sign up on the wait list:

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