Beliefs are often formed from emotional experiences in our lives.
When we go through major moments of joy, sadness, anger or fear, our mind is designed to store these important events and remember them.
It does this either to keep us away or draw us closer to similar experiences in the future.
Our passions, in turn, are directly correlated to these kinds of moments.
The reason we feel so passionately about them is that they connect to our lives and unlock our deepest emotions.
Career experts debate whether this is great advice for charting a professional path, but the question then becomes: What am I passionate about?
Whether your goal is to find a career that excites you or to enrich your life with a hobby, identifying a passion is a natural inclination.
In several studies, researchers have found that passion is a critical component of psychological well-being, goal-accomplishing, and effective leadership.
“Design is not for philosophy, it’s for life.” — Issey Miyake
The six points listed below will help you recognize that it is your duty to find your passion.
1. The Power of listening
One of the key tenets of design thinking is empathy.
That is, to truly understand the other person’s needs rather than what we assume that person needs.
It is the first step to understand the root issue that needs to be solved.
Similarly, we must begin by being empathetic with ourselves. Yet we are often our own worst critics.
If we turn an empathetic ear and truly listen to ourselves without judgment or criticism, we might just get a better idea of what our true selves want—not what someone else (including your own critics) tells you what you want or don’t want.
2. Question your answer
We often declare something we want, but can’t figure out how to get it or why we’re having trouble getting it.
What we think is the answer may in fact only be the starting point, a question that needs to be peeled back to discover another layer of the onion.
We want a new job. We want to be promoted. We declare these statements as our goals but get stuck in achieving them.
Instead, consider the why.
Why a new job? Why a promotion? What is the root issue behind the declaration?
Perhaps we don’t really want a new job, but we’re seeking growth and meaning in our work that we’re not currently finding.
Is a new job the only solution or are there other things we can try without leaving our current job? Reframing the issue can help unpack the real question and help us move forward.
3. Get things done and stop trying
Even though it seems everyone gets a prize for effort and participation these days, trying and trying and trying sometimes seem like Sisyphus rolling the stone up the hill, only to have it roll back down.
We may be expending too much energy on “trying” but not actually doing.
Imagine you want to go skydiving. Standing on the airplane doorway with your parachute ready to go is evidence of really trying. But if you never jump, you’re never actually skydiving.
You’re just trying. You could spend days and months and years, and a lot of money making the attempt.
But no matter how many times you go up on that airplane, no matter how many different packs you put on, and no matter how many instructors you have, you will never sky dive until you jump.
4. Determine experiences in your life
Discovering your passion requires getting creative in how you connect past emotional experiences with present day interests.
This kind of creativity is something we all have inside us, as best described by Steve Jobs:
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”
After reflecting on the past, you need to reconnect it to the present.
Ask yourself: How do these experiences affect my character today? How do they influence my confidence, work ethic, relationships, self-esteem or decision making? What about them makes me especially happy, angry or opinionated?
What leaders, industries, organizations and companies related to these experiences inspire me?
5. Start dreaming
If you discover something you love, never lose sight of it.
The reason most people don’t pursue what they are truly passionate about is that they don’t think it’s career worthy.
Many people love things like music, technology, business strategy or writing but feel they don’t have the skills or qualifications to make it in those fields.
The problem is they think they need become the rock star, the tech guru, the management consultant or the best-selling author in order to be successful.
In reality, if you explore that field of work on a broad enough scale, you will be able to discover related opportunities.
Someone who loves playing the guitar, for instance, may eventually find a job as a sales rep for a record label.
They are still doing something connected to their original passion, but are sharing it in a different way.
6. Be innovative and do something new
The great thing about passion is that it can be discovered at any time and from anywhere.
All it takes is a situation that sparks some anger, frustration or excitement to get you emotionally invested in a field.
In fact, people often become inspired to innovate products and disrupt industries because of the difficulties they have encountered with them.
They experience a problem, see others going through it as well and recognize it as an opportunity to make a difference.
Keep your eye out for these opportunities as you experience challenges in your everyday life.
Remember that you can innovate and be entrepreneurial by starting your own venture, by joining a new, innovative company or by being intrapreneurial within your current company.
The right path will make sense for your life.
Your passions are fueled by emotional motivation — everything we think, say or do is based on how our past has shaped us.
Over our lifetime, our experiences define a belief system that determines how we approach our careers, relationships, stress and everything else.
This is your starting point, but to discover your passion you must dig deeper.
How have you been able to discover and work on your passion? Are you working on anything today? Now, I hope you understand that finding your passion is your mission?
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