“Ollin, I’m so happy that you’ve found your passion in writing. Unfortunately, I’ve never known what my passion was–can you help me find it?”
“Ollin, I used to know what my passion was, but now I’ve lost it. Can you help me rediscover it?”
“Ollin, I think I know what my passion is, but I’m still not sure. Can you help me gain some clarity?”
Recently, I’ve had many readers approach me about helping them sort out their passions in life.
The topic of finding your passion is something that is consistently covered in other “self-help” blogs and so I find it very interesting that there are many people out there who still struggle with this issue.
I think that this is primarily because in order to find your passion, you have to first dispel the most common myths about the process:
Myth: Your passion HAS to be an occupation
Truth: Your passion is MUCH MORE than an occupation
Many people believe that finding their passion has to be an “occupation” in order for it to be a true passion.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t make any sense either way you look at it.
Some people’s passions make them money. Other’s people’s passions don’t.
But simply because your passion doesn’t make you money, doesn’t mean that you should nix it.
For instance, if Steve Jobs stopped pursuing his passion for making personal computers because it didn’t make him that much money at the time, he never would have risen to the heights he is at now.
If you look it at it another way, if Martin Luther King dismissed his passion for fighting for Civil Rights because it didn’t make him a lot of money, your world and mine would be very different than it is now.
(Aren’t you glad MLK didn’t pursue a law degree in lieu of leading The March On Washington?)
Although it is true that money makes the world go round, it’s not the only thing that does: pure passion often shakes up the world, too.
In that way, an individual’s passion can be much more than just an occupation.
Myth: Your passion should be OBVIOUS
Truth: Your passion can be so subtle that you may just be overlooking it
Your passion, more often than not, is so ingrained in you and comes so natural to you that if you’re having trouble finding your passion, you probably haven’t lost it, or never had it–you probably just keep overlooking it.
You really need to sit down with your personal history and comb through your memory to find the instances in your life where you felt right at home, joyful, and happy. Times where you might have felt energized and incredibly fulfilled.
You need to pay very close attention to what you do when nobody is looking. Pay attention to what you do with great eagerness even without reward or recognition. Pay attention to what you do that just comes naturally to you.
Something about your passion just feels right, and you know it when you’re engaged in it.
However, if you’ve been taught since childhood to take a “practical” or more “pragmatic” route that is at odds with your true passion, you might have gotten so lost all along the way that you no longer know how to tell the difference between engaging in your passion and not engaging in it.
Essentially, you need to rewire your brain to ignore any resistance to your passion, and, instead, have your brain begin the job of searching for any clues that might lead you to your passion.
Make sure that you don’t let your brain’s “old wiring” thwart this process by letting it dismiss it as silly, reckless, or a complete waste of time.
The truth is that investigating your passion is probably one of the best uses of your time.
Myth: Your passion can only be found on your own
Truth: You may need trusting friends and family to nourish you on your journey to find your passion
Your investigation into your passion is a very delicate one, because at any moment someone or something could snap at you and say that finding your passion is impractical and silly–and this might force you to start again, from the very beginning, having lost all your progress.
On your journey to find your true passion you may confront old prejudices, limitations, biases, stereotypes, disappointments, resentments, fears that have all been working together over the years to keep you so clouded and so confused that you were completely blind to your passion.
For this very reason, it may serve you well to have a friend, partner, or family member, who fully supports your journey toward finding your true passion, close to you.
The people who you want around you are people who fully support what you want to do. If at any point you feel like an individual is trying to control you, or put you in a box, this may be someone who you don’t want close as you search for your passion.
You may also notice that those who greatly assist your journey listen very closely to you, and when your mind changes on a subject, they acknowledge this, instead of trying to force you back into old thinking.
I think I heard it somewhere that true love allows a person to grow and change, and is not controlling. In that sense, you need people who truly love you to stand next to you as you discover (or rediscover) your passion.
The people who truly love you know that your journey will only lead you to a deeper sense of yourself, and they are just as eager as you are for you to get there as soon as possible.
Myth: Others can know what your passion is simply by observing you, or by having you take “passion” quizzes
Truth: No one can truly know what your passion is but you–no matter how many “passion” quizzes they give you
In the end, no one–not even your most intuitive of friends–can truly know what your passion is.
Only you can know.
Myth: Your passion is an “end goal” you must “achieve”
Truth: Your passion is a never-ending, ever-changing journey
The truth is that you and your interests are prone to change and evolve. So if you think that your passion is something you should “achieve” then you might find yourself resistant to your passion as it continues to evolve and refine itself.
For example: maybe a passion to write starts off with a passion to write fiction; but then this passion to write fiction matures to become a passion to write non-fiction memoirs, which then evolves into journalism, which then evolves into a love of politics, which then evolves into love of writing political speeches.
We’re all such fascinating, complex beings, and to say that our passion is some “end goal” that must be achieved is limiting our great potential.
If your passion stays the same the rest of your life, great. If your passion changes, that’s cool, too.
I recommend that you just go with it, and don’t resist.
That’s what I do.
So (clears throat) if in ten years you find that I’m no longer writing fiction but I’ve become a chef in Paris who prepares gourmet meals for French ambassadors–don’t say I didn’t I warn you.