We’re living in passionate times. The “Do What You Love” era, as I like to call it. It’s truly a great time to be young, motivated and following your dreams. But what if you don’t know what your dreams are? While it seems that everyone around us is “werking” it toward their dreams, sometimes we need a little more time (and help) to figure out what truly lights us up.
And guess what, there’s nothing wrong with that. Taking the necessary time to seek out your passion, instead of jumping into any ole endeavor, is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself.
Here are seven other smart things you can do if you’re struggling to discover what you’re truly passionate about.
I know this seems counter-intuitive, but when you are grasping at straws resist the urge to do a whole bunch of nothing. One of my favorite quotes (I think from Oprah) is “when you don’t know what to do, do nothing.”
Getting still helps you clear your mind and make room for the journey you are about to embark on. When you are clouded with indecision and anxiousness about taking the next step that’s the time when you should slow down and do nothing.
When are you happiest? What are you doing in that moment? If money were no object what would you do? What are you good at? What excites you? What did you want to be as a child?
Really dig deep with these questions, no surface gliding here. What dream did you once have that you gave up on? Think about what your perfect life looks like. What are you doing in that life?
Once you’ve asked these questions of yourself, ask close friends and family. See how their responses match to yours.
Write Everything Down
I’m a huge advocate of writing everything down. While Mae West would disagree, writing things down not only helps you keep track, but makes your ideas some concrete.
Take the questions from above and journal out the answers. Keep writing until you hit a nerve. You’ll know you hit a nerve when you feel uneasy and a bit anxious. Through writing you’ll tap a vein that only thinking about your dreams won’t touch.
Now that you have some semblance of what you may like to do or are good at (you should have written this down) experiment! If you have loved to dance since you were six, but never pursued it, enroll in a weekly dance class. Think you have knack for marketing, create a test product and work on promoting it. Join a marketing meetup.
I say experiment, because you shouldn’t take any one thing too seriously. Have fun getting involved in the different endeavors and see which activity, be it writing, dancing or acting, that makes you feel the best and most engaged.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
It’s easy to feel left out of the passion race and get down on yourself. Whatever you do resist the urge to RSVP to the pity party. Sure you may not be as clairvoyant about your life as you’d like, but being depressed about it won’t change anything. In fact, it will make it worse and prolong progress.
Realize you Can Have More than One Passion
While our DWYL era has truly opened people’s eyes to what they love, it has also pigeonholed us into the one passion mindset. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a multi-passionate person. I love writing, go crazy over fashion, am passionate about online marketing, obsessed with pugs. Who says you have to narrow your entire life down to just ONE passion?
While you do need to pick one and start down that path, you can keep your other passions and pursue them as hobbies and side projects. Or find a way to incorporate them into one profession. You think someone will hire an online marketer who writes about pugs?
Make a Decision & Commit
Echoing the point above, making a decision is the first step to starting down your passion path. You’ve done the soul searching, written out your vision with sincerity and experimented with different things that intrigue you. You’ve happened upon an endeavor that excites you. Now you have to take the final leap…. commit!
Making and sticking a decision is the toughest part in finding your passion. Often times people think that being passionate about your work means it will be without hard work, frustration and the occasional “I want to give ups” So not true. But making the decision to commit will help you once the honeymoon phase is over.