Do you ever wonder what you’re really doing here on this planet, or more accurately, what you’re supposed to be doing? Do you envy the people who just seem to know, and are already doing what they’re clearly meant to do? There aren’t a lot, but they’re out there. They love their jobs and excel at what they do, and you can’t imagine them doing anything else.
Then there’s the rest of us. I don’t know about you, but if I didn’t need the income, I sure wouldn’t do my job. I like what I’m doing, but I don’t love it, and I definitely don’t find it fulfilling or meaningful.
Maybe your life is the same, and you really wish you knew what one pursuit would make ideal use of your unique talents and gifts, what one career would please you so much that you couldn’t imagine ever retiring or quitting. How do you find out what that is?
It turns out, if you don’t know what your passion is, there are two ways not to do it: frantically scrambling through your life trying to seize on something to declare as your passion, and passively waiting for it to come to you as an inspiration from the sky.
Instead, the way to find it is by wandering. You have to try a lot of different things, even things you think you might not be interested in; throw yourself at things as they strike you for deeper pursuit; and accept that you won’t get it right on the first try.
This all makes sense and may even seem a little obvious, but until I read this post about it on Zen Habits, I was definitely more of a frantic scrambler. At the very least, I was convinced I was doing it wrong when I’d get a huge crush on a new hobby or pursuit and want to spend all of my time on it, only to have that fade and be replaced with something else a few months later. I’m not doing it wrong, I’m doing exactly the recommended thing to find your passion! I may not have found the final answer yet, if there even is one, but meanwhile, I have a serial monogamy with a whole lot of things that I really, really enjoy. That’s pretty darn awesome, when you see it that way.
So, what does this mean for you? First of all, be open to trying new things, especially things that may be outside your usual area of expertise. It’s not like when you were a little kid—your mom’s not here to make you take piano lessons every week for the next ten years because you expressed an interest once. Just try things, give them a good chance, and move on if they’re not really doing it for you. As you try different things, if you find one that you’re really enjoying and want to spend more time on, do it! Start devoting as much free time to it as you want and can find, and see what happens. Throw yourself at it as long as it seems appealing. But don’t worry, if the appeal fades, you can just go on and try something else, and you’re still doing it right.
You may already have a good candidate. Is there something you know you want to do, but you just can’t seem to find the time? I used to see a lot of “I’d rather be fishing” bumper stickers. Do you have something like that? Would you rather be fishing, knitting, drawing, writing, hiking, painting, running, skating, star-gazing? If so, make time to do more of that. Watch less tv, spend less time surfing the internet, find pockets of wasted time in your schedule, and devote those to your favorite thing. (If there truly is no time in your schedule for pursuing your passion, you desperately need to start a to-quit list!) The time spent doing what you love is the best part of life, so do it as much as possible.
Wander around as much as you need to, find what you like, and do it! You may just discover your passion. At worst you’ll learn some new things and have a good time. What do you have to lose?