Finding a passion for your life can seem like a pretty tall order, and there are hundreds of self-help evangelists looking to sell you a five-step course, brand-new book or some other idea to help you figure it all out.
Truth is, you’ll never figure it all out. Life is too big for you ever to full own, and finding out who you are is a life-long pursuit even for the wisest among us. The good news is, however, you can still find out inner passions that drive what you do and how you do it. Here is just one, simple method of identifying one or more of your life passions.
Make a list of dreams
What have you wanted to do IN your life? Ignore the “Who do you want to be?” or “What do you want to do WITH you life?” Believe it or not, you’re a multifaceted creature asking for a one-size fits all purpose for your life, and you simply won’t have one. Even the rarest among us who seem to know exactly what they want to do after leaving the womb still have more than one interest and, throughout the course of their life, have multiple purposes. The key is to find out what you will connect with most, today.
So grab a sheet of people and write down every thing you’ve ever wanted to do, ranging from jumping out of an aircraft to starting a nonprofit, hiking the Appalachian Trail while live-streaming to learning how to woodwork.
Leave all judgement outside the room and just pour out ideas, no matter how silly, simple or outlandish. Yes, “become president” can be one of your “want to dos.” Just pour it out on the paper as a bit bulleted list. Don’t write paragraphs — keep each item simple. Try to shoot for a minimum of 50 items, so feel free to include small ones you could perform in a day, like “jump out of an aircraft,” “visit an escape room,” “call a famous person.” Aim for as many as possible.
Again, don’t make judgements. Don’t disqualify ANY idea. You are FREE to write down “raise unicorns” as a goal. This is not the time for judgement, but openness. Also, take a few weeks to build the list. Put it somewhere central and just add to it as you get new ideas. You’ll get those new ideas while driving, taking a shower, cooking dinner, walking the dog and all the other tasks you perform during your day, so don’t think a single sit-down session will give you all those ideas at once.
Once complete, set down your list for a few days or a week or so. Get the energy out of your head. Forget the prejudgements you made, (i.e. “I’ll write THIS idea down, but it’s really stupid so it will probably come off later.) Get rid of them. Set a calendar appointment on your phone to look again at your list in a week or so to give yourself time to gain fresh eyes for the next step.
Prioritize and ReOrder
Remember, you weren’t born to do one thing, so this exercise isn’t about narrowing a list of 100 items to a single “end all-be all” idea. You can do MANY things in your life, so don’t think you’re going to cut out most of your list. More importantly, however, this exercise is more about finding a central theme to your list, so it may not involve cutting any of it, at all.
It’s time to prioritize, so after you’ve taken a week or so to get away from this list, sit down and do a cursory look over it. What items jump out at you? Which ones spark instant interest? Any that generate instant excitement move to the top.
Do it once, then set the list down for a day.
Come back and do it again. Rinse and repeat until every time you look at the list, the list looks like it SHOULD. You’ll know what it should look like once you can’t prioritize any better than you already have.
Now that you have a robust list, prioritized by importance, look across the top 10-20 items. What jumps out at you that is similar between them? Is it about a skill? Perhaps many or most of them involve managing? Serving? Helping? Fixing? Organizing? Messaging? Art? Creativity?
Maybe what jumps out is WHOM you’re serving? Perhaps underserved communities? Your church family? A particular customer base, like a marketing company who might only build websites for dentists.
Perhaps it’s more about who you get to be a part of? Such as volunteering with groups like the VFW or Rotary who might serve a variety of groups in a variety of fashions? Perhaps it’s the brother or sisterhood of those organizations that really sets fire in your soul. Belonging and contributing to a group could serve your soul?
Maybe you want to travel the world and or experience new things, so your items always involve going somewhere or doing something. Do you like merely experiencing new things or do you also love to share those items once you’ve gone and done those things?
What if your favorite things revolve around food? Restaurants, cooking, food trucks, organic farms …
Look for similarities, no matter how off-the-wall they may seem.
For example, the company that invented and dominates the plastic bread clip market started by someone randomly cutting up a credit card in a way that bound the plastic of a bread bag together and kept it air tight. While your purpose need not be commercial in nature, consider the fact that this highly successful company not only created its own market but did so by owning an idea completely out of left field and MAKING it into something they could do for a living.
Embrace and Own Your Theme
Whatever your particular passion — whatever your standout theme might be after analyzing your to-dos, you can find or make a way for your most internal passion to drive how you interact with the world.
Chances are, once you identify a central theme to the things you want to do in your life, you’ll discover you were already doing it, all along. This is not about creating something new as much as defining something that has already played a central role in your life. While most people perform the same chores and do the same jobs, we all go about similar tasks in unique ways. Some people cook using pre-cooked bags, others grow their own vegetables and create custom dishes. Everyone eats, but no one eats the same way.
As you better define what your inner passion really is, it’s time to embrace it, even if it seems off the wall or not what you expected. Honestly, if your favorite thing to do in life is to rearrange other people’s PowerPoint slides, that is OKAY.
Personally, I can spend hours cleaning up messy Excel documents or redesigning PPT documents. Weird, yes, but I love it.The writer
You are unique, and if you waste your life trying to measure up to someone else’s passion, then you aren’t failing life, you’re failing YOURSELF.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”Anon (Often wrongfully
Figure out if you’re a fish or a horse. Embrace who you are and own it. Don’t measure yourself by other people’s dreams.