How To Find Your Passion And Do The Work You Love
Hey, what's happening with your life right now?
Are things going pretty well?
Are you happy with your job?
Most days do you feel fulfilled and enthusiastic about what's going on in your world?
I hope you do — but if you don't, you're not alone.
Most people would give their lives a C+.
Things are okay. Nothing terrible is happening.
Some parts of life are pretty good, but on the whole, your day-to-day is rather ho-hum.
And that's perfectly acceptable. It's certainly more acceptable than the large swath of people who would grade their lives with a D- or even an F.
But . . . is it what you really want?
Is it all you want?
Let's assume for a moment that you don't have anything traumatic or terrible happening right now. You're healthy, your family is fine, you aren't struggling financially, and you have all (or most) of your teeth.
Given that baseline, and knowing on some level that there's more available to you (whatever that “more” is), don't you want to go for more?
What if you could have a passionate, fulfilling, engaging life — one that you design just as you want it?25 Action Steps to Transition to Your Life Passion
I bet if that life were handed to you with no strings attached, you'd be all over it.
Of course, the “no strings attached” part is the sticking point.
Designing that life and making it real does have a lot of strings attached.
Yes, you would love to live a passionate life, but you have no idea how to find your life passion. You don't know where or how to look for it or what to do with it if you found it.
And you worry that finding it might jeopardize your financial security, your happiness, and your relationships. These are some pretty big strings.
That's what this post is about today — to help you untangle the strings and know the steps to move your life from a C, D, or F to an A without as much of the fear and uncertainty that comes with change.
How to Find Passion in Life
Just to clear up any confusion, let's talk about what it means to find your life passion and live a passionate life.It certainly doesn't mean your life is free of challenges, setbacks, and difficulties. It doesn't mean you'll be happy 100% of the time or that you'll be satisfied with your passion every single day.
But, living a passionate life does mean . . .
- You exude a sense of energy, enthusiasm, and purpose because you've found the “thing” you love to do.
- You are deeply engaged in your passionate pursuit(s) or the pursuit of your passion.
- That engagement and the joy it brings spills over into other areas of your life, enhancing your general outlook and self-confidence.
- You want to simplify your life so you can spend more time doing what you love.
- Problems and life difficulties don't seem so daunting because you are happier and have fewer complications.
- You have better relationships because you are more attractive, positive, and interesting.
- You frequently experience the sense of being “in the flow,” when time disappears and you have a deep sense of satisfaction in your passion.
- Even when you aren't proficient at your passion pursuit, you enjoy the practice of it and the process of learning.
When you decide that you want to find your passion, you'll realize you don't want to settle for mediocre in other areas of your life as well.
If your passion becomes your profession, you'll be inspired to live a more passionate personal life.
If your passion begins as a hobby or side gig, you'll figure out a way to make it a bigger part of your life.
Finding and doing what you love is so powerful that it provides momentum and motivation you didn't know you possessed.
However, even with the promise of these positive outcomes, you'll still have reservations about where it will all lead.
It’s daunting to challenge the status quo and think about disrupting your life for something that may or may not work out for the better.
Before you can find your passion, you have to address some of the mental roadblocks that prevent you from taking action.
Challenging Your Mental Roadblocks
The biggest challenge to creating a more passionate life is your own thinking.
The negative voices in your head telling you why you can't or shouldn't change your life have more power over you than any real challenge you might face along the way.
Here are some of the most common reasons people don't find and live their life passions:
- You believe it's too late, your too old, that your time has passed.
- You don't think you have what it takes to start over or recreate yourself.
- You believe you can't afford to make any changes.
- You fear that the unknown might be worse than what you have now.
- You worry that your spouse or family won't support you.
- You think you don't have time to pursue your passion.
- You think you can figure it out in your head without taking action.
- You want a solid guarantee about what your passion is before you'll take action.
- You don't trust your own judgment and inner wisdom.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, I'd like to ask you to suspend your doubts and concerns until it's time to push the button on a life-altering decision.
There will be plenty of time to address real concerns and potential roadblocks to making your passion a reality. But for now, you are just beginning the search — so sit back and enjoy the ride!
Getting Started on Finding Your Inner Passion
So what's the first thing you need to do to get started?
It's pretty simple — commit to the process. Get serious about it. Carve out the time.
You can't sit around thinking about how nice it would be if you had a different life. You have to take action. At the beginning of your search, action means doing a lot of inner work and research.
So here's my recommendation for passion activities:
- Carve out an hour two or three days a week to work on your search. Yes, you can find this time. Just make it a priority.
- Put these hours on your calendar for the next three to six months.
- Let your family know that you are beginning this process and make sure you communicate the importance of this time to work on it.
- Get yourself a journal so you can keep track of what you are discovering about yourself and the progress you're making. Use the journal!
- Have a positive attitude about the process. See it as an adventure of self-discovery. Make finding your passion your passion for now.
Will you commit to this? If so, please make it real by leaving a comment saying, “I'm committed.” A little public accountability never hurts.
So you're probably wondering what you need to do with those hours of time every week. Let me break it down for you.
Get Better Acquainted with Your Inner Self
The first things I did during my own passion search was to take a series of self-assessments to get a better feel for my natural inclinations, preferences, skills, and values.
This is a great place to start because it helps you clarify some valuable information about yourself.Assessments are excellent tools that provide a piece of the puzzle, but they won't give you the full or final answer. However, they can put you on the right path and help you kickstart the process.
Even if you've taken personality and career assessments in the past, take them again. You need to have a clear memory and a fresh perspective on what you learn about yourself.
Here are some free online assessments to consider:
Personality Assessment based on the Myers Briggs personality type theory.
Career Aptitude Test that takes into account your interests, personality, workplace preferences, and history and goals.
Skills and Strengths Assessment to measure the sixteen most common and work-related competencies.
Once you take the personality assessment and get your results with your four-letter type, do some research on your type to learn more about your natural preferences, interests, and motivations.
Just Google your four-letter type, and you'll find tons of articles with valuable information. This personality site is one of my favorites, as it gives you information on your type in various areas of your life, such as career, relationships, and personal growth.
Make notes in your journal about what resonates with you related to your personality type, as well as what you learn from the other assessments you take. Keep this info so you can refer back to it.
One additional assessment you definitely want to take is a values assessment. This helps you determine the guiding principles for your personal and professional life.
All of your decisions about your life passion should reflect and support your values.
For example, let's say you're offered a job you know you'll love, and it requires you to travel four days a week. But one of your core values is quality time with your family. No matter how much you love the work, you'll feel frustrated and out of sync with who you really are if you accept this job.
Go to this list of 400 value words, review them, and refine the list to your top five personal and top five professional values. Write these down in your journal, and refer to them frequently as you progress on your passion search.
Begin Researching Passion Examples
Now that you have some information to guide you from your assessments, begin researching various interests and ideas. Conduct this initial research without any preconceived judgments or mental limitations.
You're just “window shopping” to see what's out there and what intrigues you. Don't get hung up on whether or not these interests could work for a career. Don't think about whether or not you have the skills you need to pursue any of these interests.
Just start reading and learning about things that ignite your imagination.
If you find yourself drawn to bird watching, writing books, marketing, or anything else (no matter how unrelated to your current work or hobbies), write it down and make notes about it.
You might answer this list of passion questions:
- Why am I drawn to this pursuit?
- What activities involved in this pursuit intrigue me most?
- How does this pursuit line up with my personality type and values?
- How would I feel if I were proficient in this pursuit and could do it every day?
- How would I feel about learning and practicing the skills involved in being proficient in this pursuit?
- If I could make a good salary with this pursuit, would I want it for a career?
Here's something really important to remember . . .
Your passion might start as a hobby or side interest that eventually becomes a career.
Or your passion might remain a hobby, and your job is what you do to support your passion pursuit.
Or you might find a career right away that is your passion, and you decide to change jobs accordingly.
Don't assume that you have to turn your life completely upside down in order to experience the benefits of your passion pursuit.
There are many ways to skin this cat, but as long as you are able to pursue your passion regularly, your life will be greatly improved.
When you find something you really love to do, you figure out a way to make it work for your life circumstances.
And that brings us to some of the practical considerations as you narrow down what you might want to pursue.
Each of you reading this article have different preferences, life circumstances, responsibilities, obligations, and risk tolerances.
Based on these, you have to make decisions along the way about your priorities and what you will and won't sacrifice for the sake of your passion.
For example, I'd sacrifice some income to do something I love and that I find fulfilling. I'd be willing to move to another city if I needed to. But there was a time when my children were young that I wouldn't have made that sacrifice.
These are personal considerations, but as you assess them, really challenge yourself and your assumptions before you give up doing what you love. Question any initial resistance to ensure it's not just fear or inertia holding you back.
You may have some of those mental roadblocks I mentioned earlier that prevent you from making a change. Now is the time to address these and deal with any legitimate concerns you may have.
Here is a list of passionate things you need to think about:
1. Do you have enough savings to allow you to live for six months during a job transition or while you search for your passion? If not, how can you start saving or earning more to create this buffer?
2. What is the minimum salary you can live with?
3. Would you be willing to downsize your lifestyle in order to live your passion? If you have a spouse or partner, would he or she support that?
4. If you absolutely cannot afford to leave your job right now, how much time could you devote to a passion outside of work?
5. What kind of additional education, training, or skills might you need for a potential career change or passionate pursuit? Write down any possibility that comes to mind.
6. How much money and time will additional education or training take? Where will you get the money and how can you carve out the time? Be creative.
7. Could you accept a pay cut or a less prestigious position if you are more passionate and fulfilled by the work you are doing?
8. If you found passionate work, but it didn’t pay you enough, would you be willing to take on a side-hustle to make ends meet or create savings?
9. How important is it for you to have a job that feels meaningful and purposeful? What does that mean specifically for you?
10. What satisfaction do you seek in a profession that you haven’t found in your current position/career?
11. If certain things changed, could you feel passionate about your current career/job? What would those things be? How could you make those changes, if possible?
12. What motivates you the most when it comes to your profession — money, prestige, respect, fulfillment, purpose, creativity, intellectual stimulation, or something else?
In addition to answering the questions above, write down your thoughts about these things for more clues about your passion:
- Pursuits, hobbies, and work you have done in the past that brought you joy and fulfillment.
- Pursuits you've always wanted to chase, but you don't have the skills or education necessary.
- People you know (or have read about) who are following their dreams and what inspires you about them.
- The achievements in your life you feel most proud of and why.
- The ways you think you might not be living up to your potential.
- Your bucket list of things you want to achieve or do before you die.
- What you would do with your life if, knowing what you know now, you were just graduating from high school.
Now you have a lot of information to work with as you enter the action phase of your passion search. Don't worry, you still don't have to make any commitments or quit your job.
You know what your parameters are and what you can and can't change based on your lifestyle choices. But . . . please don't allow groundless fears to hold you back.
Thinking that you are too old, don't have enough time, can't learn new skills, or don't have what it takes are NOT good reasons to avoid pursuing your passion.
This next part of the search involves more hands-on research, experimentation, and refining of your passion possibilities.
Taking Action to Refine Your Passion
Now it's time to hone in on some possibilities for your passion using all of the information and insights you've gathered so far.
It's OK if you still aren't clear or don't feel like you've had an “aha” moment about what your passion is. It doesn't often land on you like a grand moment of insight. Rather, it's more of a process, an evolution, a slow reveal.
You might start in one direction, only to be led down a different path that opens a new and unexpected opportunity. Keep your mind open, even as you begin to settle on what you think your passion might be.
Here is a little passion quiz and actions to take:
1. Based on all you have learned about yourself so far, write a list of the top five to ten ideas you have for your life passion.
Don’t worry if some of them don’t seem realistic now, just write down the ideas.
2. Brainstorm and list any other small actions you should take to begin pursuing the interests or possible passions, like talking to a friend or mentor, updating your resume, learning about salary and growth potential, etc.
3. In the short term, how do you best see yourself pursuing your passion — in your career, a hobby, a side-gig, or something else?
What about the long-term?
4. If you decide to pursue your passion in your career, what are some specific actions you need to take in order to prepare for changing jobs or careers?
5. What are some of the potential challenges you might face in changing careers and what can you do to mitigate those challenges?
6. How can you experiment with your possible passions by volunteering, shadowing someone, taking on a contract or part-time job to test it, enrolling in an introduction class, or otherwise committing to some short-term exposure that doesn’t require a full commitment?
7. How much time are you willing to invest in experimenting before making a decision? How will you know if something feels right? How will you know if it feels wrong?
8. Do any of your passion possibilities involve becoming more proficient in a specific skill set?
If so, specifically what needs to be done to practice or learn the skill set? How much time are you willing to devote to practice and/or learning?
9. Which of the passion possibilities you're considering seem to fit best with your values, desired lifestyle, relationships, financial goals and obligations, and other practical life considerations?
10. How much time a week are you willing to invest in following through on some of the research, experimentation, and action steps you have defined above? Specifically what days and times can you carve out for this?
Some of the work you'll be doing at this stage will feel like trial and error.
You may wonder if you're wasting time, especially after you've invested days or weeks researching and testing out an idea only to discover it's not what you want.
Coming away empty-handed might feel like a failure — but it's not. Every bit of research and every action you take is giving you more insight and information.
Finding your life passion is a lot like finding the love of your life. You have to date a lot of people and have a few relationships before you know the kind of person who is the best match for you.
You don't give up on love because the first date is a flop. So don't give up on your life passion either.
How Will You Know When You Find Your Passion?
That's the million dollar question.
Will your passion show up at your door with a big sign announcing its presence? Will you hear a voice from the heavens or a sign from the universe?
For me, discovering my passion was a process. All of the signs from assessments and research kept pointing to counseling or coaching, so I went back to school and got a coaching certification.
I enjoyed coaching school — it felt “right.” I felt inspired and excited when I started my coaching business, even though it was hard, and I wasn't making much money.
Then I created a blog to promote my new business. I started writing self-improvement articles related to my coaching work. I hadn't planned on being a blogger, but by accident, I discovered a new path for my passion.
Now my coaching work has been transformed into a successful online business that includes coaching, teaching, writing books, creating courses, and many other passions I never even considered.
Here's the biggest clue that you've found your passion: You can't not do it.
You have to do it. You feel drawn to do it. You wake up thinking about it and often have to drag yourself away from it at the end of the day.
In fact, you're willing to overcome obstacles, rearrange your life, and learn new skills in order to do it.
As you refine your passion possibilities and measure them against your values, your life priorities, your financial needs, and other considerations pay attention to those ideas and pursuits that keep drawing you in.
Take the time to experiment in real-world situations with these possibilities by taking a class, finding a mentor, volunteering, shadowing, or taking on a side-gig. This is the only way to get a true feel for the day-to-day actions involved.
How Long Will It Take?
Some people are lucky enough to have a good idea of what they are passionate about, and they just need the clarity and confidence to transition from their current situation to their passionate endeavor.
It might take them a few months to a year to save money and make the necessary life adjustments to change their lives.
For those who have no idea what their passion is, the process of finding it could take several months, followed by this transition time.
If you have a lot of fears and self-doubts about change, you'll need to deal with those first so they don't sabotage your efforts.
I've found with my coaching clients who are motivated for change that it's reasonable to take a year to figure out what your passion is and to begin the transition from your existing life to your new one.
This may seem like a long time but in the scheme of your lifetime, it's a small investment to make for a profoundly positive life upgrade.
Remember, the process of finding your passion can be an adventure itself. It can be fun, enlightening, and inspire you to stretch and challenge yourself for your own personal growth.
Don't give up on finding your passion and making it real. You deserve more than mediocre. You long for more than mediocre.
Please don't ignore this longing and allow your soul's calling to remain unheeded.
As the poet Mary Oliver implores in her poem, “The Summer Day” — “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”