Thousands of articles online talk about "five easy ways to find your passion today" or "three simple questions to finding your passion" or any other clickbait title about passion.
While such articles are pleasant to read, they misguide their readers by giving them the false impression that there's an easy way to find your passion, that simply asking yourself what came naturally to you as a kid will quell the existential doubts inside your mind.
It won't. Deep down, we know there's no easy fix to finding your passion. As such, this article is an attempt to set the record straight and offer a more nuanced view on passion, which I hope will be encouraging in its own right.
The word passion is overused and misunderstood. What many people describe as a passion is all too often something they just like to do. But it's not because you enjoy gardening or singing or drawing that you're passionate about it.
Something that's a passion to you should look like an obsession to others. It's what you're drawn to, what you cannot or don't want to stop doing. To some, a passion might feel as if there's an external force pushing them to do something, an urge so strong it feels alien even to the person experiencing it.
That's how the word passion should be used. We shouldn't water the meaning of the word down to something you simply like or enjoy, because that's not what passion is.
This being said...
Because passion is such a common subject online, it's easy for people to think there's something wrong with you if you don't have a passion. This is also why passion is such a misused word, because it's considered a good thing to have a passion in life.
But it should be okay not to have a passion too.
You shouldn't feel guilty if you don't have a single thing that you love more than anything else. There's nothing wrong with having a variety of things that you're mildly curious about. Ultimately, it's about whether you feel fulfilled in life, and you can be perfectly fulfilled without a passion too.
However, if you do feel dissatisfied with some aspect of your life, and want to find something where you feel you're making a contribution, where you feel important, where you feel valued, then try this...
Instead of torturing yourself with the what do I want to do for the rest of my life question, find out what you're already reasonably good at, and try to get better at it.
If you're a good C# developer, you have two options: you can double down on C# and become a phenomenal C# developer or you can branch out and find out which programming languages and skills are complementary to C#, and learn those.
Either way, something interesting will happen when you commit to getting better. You will start enjoying it more. This seems obvious, but it also implies something that's often overlooked: if you're starting out with something new, it's normal not to enjoy it.
With most new skills and hobbies, you'll go through a period of time where you'll suck, and it won't be fun. The I need to find something I'm passionate about thought is dangerous, because it can serve as justification for quitting too early. You don't like doing it, so it can't be a passion.
But it's important to push through for a while.
I know this from personal experience. I used to be a runner: 100 and 200 meters. I didn't like running at all for about eight years, until I was sixteen years old. I trained twice a week, but it was perfunctory, done simply because I didn't know what else to do.
Then, however, I started getting better. I won a few races and earned some recognition. This led me to train harder, which improved my performance, which in turn increased my motivation. Eventually, I was in a virtuous cycle where the initial external motivators of recognition and some money led to the internal motivation of wanting to get better and better.
Although I've quit sprinting many years ago, I still count it as my first passion. But I didn't start out liking it. I fell into it because I became better over time.
Here's the most actionable piece of advice in this article: if you're not feeling motivated, if you're bored or uncertain about the direction of your life and you don't want to get better at what you're currently doing, then it's time to experiment.
There's little use trying to find out what you like if you haven't tried out a variety of new things. After all, you need data to work with. So experiment. It's vital to continuously try out new things in life.
Make a choice and stick to it for a while. If you don't like it, move on! There's no problem with that. Eventually, you'll find something that will seem to click, something that's a net contribution to your life. Don't try and force it into a passion. Instead, simply get better at it.
Who knows where you'll end up?
What do you think? Do you agree with the points made? Why? Let me know in the comments below 👇.
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