Listen to any mega-successful person, and you’ll hear them talk about having passion in their work. But what if you’re not sure what your passion is? My passion eluded me for a long time. But I finally took an inventory of my life and where I wanted to go and discovered it (actually I have several). Here are some tips to figuring out your passion:
- What do you enjoy about what you do now and work from the past? Even if you don’t enjoy your job or business, there are likely aspects that you do like. Perhaps it’s the income or type of work. Maybe you like your colleagues. When I did this exercise, I realized I liked helping people. My background was in social work (a helping profession), but as I made the transition to being an entrepreneur, what I enjoyed most was work that helped others. Make a list of the aspects of your current career that you enjoy.
- What don’t you like about what you do now or did in the past? This list might be easier, but be sure to delve beyond a boss you don’t like. Do you prefer to work outside, but instead you’re trapped in an interior office with no window? Is it the work itself or other aspects (the income, colleagues, location etc) that you don’t enjoy. As much as I enjoy helping others, I don’t like appointments, which eliminates work such as coach. I also don’t like having to work under other people’s rules, especially if the policies are ineffective or inefficient. No one is going to see this list unless you show it to them, so list everything about your current and even past work that you didn’t like.
- If you could do anything, what would you do? For some people, this might be a difficult question, but open your mind and let your dreams flow. If you could do anything…and I mean anything, what would it be. No filters on this list. If you want to be a rock star or Olympic athlete write it down. Perhaps the dream career isn’t quite as large, but still a challenge, such as starting your own business or writing a novel.
- Why aren’t you doing it? If you know what would make you happy, why aren’t you doing it? The most common reasons I hear for not pursuing a dream is time, money and other obligations. Many people don’t like the work or time it takes to achieve goals. You need to get specific on why you aren’t following through. Do you know what you’d need to do? Are you too old or too young? Do you lack belief you could do it? Do you not have support? Do you get discouraged because it seems do daunting? Write down all the reasons you’ve put your passion on the back burner.
- What would it take for you to do it or get close to it? Pretend there is nothing to stop you. Your success is guaranteed if you just do what it takes to get it done. Do you know what you’d need to do? What does it take to start a business, write a novel or become a rock star? If you’ve determined that it’s impossible to achieve your goal (i.e. you’d like to be a prima ballerina, but you’re 50 years old and only 4’8” tall), what can you do to get near your goal? Can you teach ballet, open a ballet studio or get a job with a ballet company doing something else?
- Are you willing to do what it takes to do it? This is where the rubber meets the road. My experience is that most people know what they need to do (#5), but they let life (#4) keep them from doing it. However, with a little creativity and a willingness to figure out how to get out of your own way and overcome obstacles, you can achieve success. History is littered with examples of people who had no money, time or resources and yet achieved great things. Single parents, college students, teenagers, baby boomers and others from all walks of life are taking their passions by the horns and wrangling them into reality. There’s no reason you can’t either. It will take research, planning, work and time, but if you’re willing take action, you can live your passion.