5 Common Myths People Have About Finding Their Passion

“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.

Who knows?

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.

much ciao,

Ollin

What insights can you provide for people searching (or rediscovering) their passions in life? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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28 comments on “5 Common Myths People Have About Finding Their Passion

  1. Christina says:

    Hi Ollin:)

    If you become a chef in Paris we’re all expecting an invitation:))

    Back to passion now: I think sometimes you start seeing your passion when you’re ready to do that. Maybe when life takes you to the right place inside of you.

    • Ollin says:

      Of course you’ll all be invited! I do love to cook.

      I love that piece of wisdom Christina, maybe you are right. Maybe our passion only appears when we’re truly ready to embrace it. Great thought!

  2. Nancy Sima says:

    Awesome post – I needed to be hear this one today – thanks!.

  3. Ana says:

    Great post, Ollin! I agree that passion is an ever-changing journey. Sometimes we are in a rut and need to try new things. Why not travel, meet new people, or take a class? The world is so much bigger than our little corner, so explore a bit and see what moves you. Those new experiences can teach us more about ourselves and help us gain a different perspective on life.

    • Ollin says:

      That’s a crucial point, Ana. Thanks so much for sharing. Some people really do need to explore in order to find their passions.

      But if you already know what your passion is, don’t be fooled by those who tell you to “explore” for the sake of exploring. Or else that journey will lead you right back where you started. I call it the “long way” back to yourself. So for those who have no clue, explore. For those who do have a clue, however, follow that clue and see where it leads you.

  4. Brad says:

    Ahh yes, the all elusive passion. It’s a fickle beast that lies within. Once tamed however, it will set you free. Maybe it was never meant to be tamed though. Maybe passion simply is about letting it control you…

    Great post Ollin. Dig your blog..

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks Brad! Great point. That’s some good food for thought. I’ll have to turn that one over for a bit. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. I love these points, especially the last one. Too many people think passion is a static, fixed thing, but passion is truly ever-changing. Once upon a time, I passionately wanted to snowboard … and after years of that, I found a new passion in travel … and after years of that, I found a new passion in building my blog … my passion has never been “wrong.” All those things were activities I was passionate about at the time. But its important to allow yourself to change.

    • Ollin says:

      Great point, my passion at one point was acting. That changed, and that’s where that last point comes from. I learned that my passion is allowed to evolve, and that’s okay.

  6. Ever read Hugh MacLeod’s “Ignore Everybody”? I think he’s got the best take on the divide between passion and profession.

    This is true: It’s not easy finding our passion. It took me somewhere around 38 years…and I’m not sure I got it yet. Here’s what I can do: I can tell you what I DON’T want to do.😉

    Good work, Ollin.

    • Ollin says:

      I think that’s incredibly helpful. Knowing what you DON’T want to do is incredibly helpful. So if you tried something and didn’t like it, you should not see that as a waste of time. You are getting closer and closer to what it is you really want to do–by sorting out what it is you don’t like.

  7. Andre Hugo says:

    When a youth, many of my friends knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. I didn’t have one passion that led me. I’ve had careers as a military officer, a government official and head of several companies. I’ve climbed and repelled down mountains; scuba dived, explored under a glacier near the North Pole, ocean kayaked; and more. I also raised two children as a single parent. I’ve been passionate about each of these, while they lasted. Now a senior,65, I, only in recent years, concluded that my passion was to exploit my childish curiosity and try many things. Making and accepting this determination removed the anxiety of not knowing some specific lifelong goal. I am now defining myself as a writer and photographer, exploring Latin America from Quito, Ecuador. I show my love of caring for others and, my children long ago grown, reap great rewards helping aid projects for the poor.

    • Ollin says:

      What a wonderful story! I hope you’re writing a memoir, or something, because this all sounds very fascinating. Thank you for sharing and for inspiring all of us to follow our passions–no matter how much they evolve over the years!

  8. Christina says:

    Just read your post at problogger.

    It was excellent and I really liked the lake/waterfall symbolism you used. Link to it from here, too:)

    • Ollin says:

      Thanks, Christina. Just because you requested I did exactly that! I put up a post with a link to the post on problogger. Glad you enjoyed it.🙂

  9. Great post! I agree that finding and living in our passion is an ever changing journey. It requires learning about and discovering ourselves along the way. For those who have no idea or for those who are sensing a change, it’s learning to play like a child … treating the universe as our playground with lots of playing and exploring.

    • Ollin says:

      I LOVE that. Yes, the universe does invite us all the time to play with it doesn’t it? I guess all we have to do is have the courage to say “yes.”

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  10. Awesome post! Really great comments too. I’m turning 50 soon, and I think I finally get it. I especially like the references to being a child and having child like curiosity because that’s how I feel most days… like a little girl just wanting to explore the world and write about it. Thank you!🙂

  11. BJ says:

    Myth or Truth – You should be naturally good at your passion

    • Ollin says:

      I think the only way you could be really excellent at anything, and also love it and be fulfilled by it, is if it is your passion.

      Some people are really great at things that are not their passion.

      If a person knows they’re passion and are not good at it, that’s fine, I think because it is their passion they will take the time and energy it takes to become good at it.

      So I guess no, I don’t think you are “naturally good” at your passion. I think it takes training and years of hard work to get really great at it.

  12. “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.”

    This is awesome!
    I would agree with everything you say here. Especially about your passion being something that grows as you do.
    I have always been extremely passionate, had many passions and yet I am blown away by the fact that I am still discovering more passions, talents I didn’t know I possess, (like for example; writing which I never even tried until I was 40).
    I would say that even if you know what your passion is now… commit to exploring. You may just be surprised!
    Thank you for this Ollin!

  13. cplangford says:

    Writers are an interesting crowd when it comes to passion–so many of us feel a supernatural, outside force compelling us to write. But I’m not sure that fiery passion, innately born, is what motivates each and every individual. For many, I think passion is a byproduct of hard work and results rather than something that comes first. Yes, I love writing even though, at 18, I’ve never written a novel or sold a collection of short stories, but I’m not sure everyone feels that way about something.

    Just some food for thought.

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