Post Updated on August 26, 2020
For as long as I can remember, I’ve never had a clear sense of what I want to do with my life. I’ve always thought you have to have one job or career until you retire because that’s what *successful* people seem to have.
The trouble is I’m passionate about a lot of things, so I’ve never liked the idea of sticking with the same job forever. It’s been a journey to figure out how my passions can actually translate into work (which they don’t have to, by the way), but it is possible if you’re clear on what your passions are.
I often get emails from readers telling me that they don’t have a clear sense of direction in their lives because they’re not passionate about anything. There are also people who tell me they have so many passions that they don’t know if they should pursue one or the other.
If you’re totally lost when it comes to identifying your passions or you can’t figure out how your different passions complement each other, this post is for you. I’m sharing a few tips to help you figure out what you’re truly passionate about so you have more clarity around your goals for the future.
Why is it so hard to identify your passions?
After I graduated from college, I was left feeling pretty confused about the type of job to pursue. I always loved writing, but I didn’t want to go into journalism. I was pretty tech-savvy, but I didn’t want to go into the tech field. I was fascinated with health and wellness, but I didn’t want to be a nutritionist.
I couldn’t figure out what to do with my passions, so I put them on hold while I worked at a job that I couldn’t say I was passionate about.
Often we find it difficult to identify or embrace our passions because of a few things:
You doubt that the things you’re passionate about will get you anywhere in life, so you bury your interests and passions deep inside.
2. The Wrong Mindset
You focus too much on how your passions can make you money, and that mindset only creates resistance towards embracing your passions.
You’re caught up trying to figure out exactly what you’re passionate about so you miss the obvious signs right in front of your face.
If you get honest with yourself and focus on what you love doing, what you’re good at, and what fascinates you, you might just find that your passions have been there all along.
“Your passion is right in front of your face. If you have to look for it, then you’re probably not passionate about it at all.”– Mark Manson
How to identify your passions
Figuring out what you’re passionate about shouldn’t be a stressful experience. After all, these are the things that bring you joy and fulfillment in life. Use the following questions and resources to help you identify your passions.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself:
Without putting too much pressure on your answers, think of how you would respond to the following questions:
If you’re still feeling stumped and want to explore this more, I recommend checking out these resources:
This exercise will help you figure out how you want to spend your one and only life by identifying the activities that make you light up—the things you love to do more than anything else.
This quiz by Sally Brown will help you identify what matters to you most and find your core values.
A list of ways to get you thinking about what you’re curious about, what you hate doing, and what your ideal life would look like – all to help you identify your passions.
How do I use my passions?
Once you’ve figured out what your passions really are, the challenge is knowing what to do with them. Do you cultivate them as hobbies? Do you try to turn one of them into your life’s work?
The Money Question
There’s a lot of pressure to feel like you need to make something out of your passions and that they should ultimately become your career, but your passions don’t need to be a money-making opportunity. They can just be a creative outlet for you.
In my opinion, you should cultivate your passions regardless of whether you make money from them or not. What you’re passionate about sets you apart from other people and makes you who you are. It’s important to cultivate your passions in order to live in alignment with what really fulfills and excites you.
“Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.”– Kristin Hannah
Reason for Being (Ikigai)
If you do want to make your passions into a career, Aileen from Lavendaire made a great video about “ikigai” which is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being”. It combines what you love doing, what you’re good at, what the world needs, and what you can get paid for. This is a great way to identify what your career sweet spot might look like.
My advice is to explore your passions as much as you can. The important thing is to not get stuck in your own head without ever taking action on what you truly love doing.
What if I’m multi-passionate?
Many of us are multi-passionate, and we’re constantly trying to find ways to mesh our interests and skills together. Often it doesn’t feel like we can ever do that because our passions are random and unrelated to one another.
If you are trying to make money from your passions, it can be pretty difficult to mesh them together into something cohesive. At the same time, it might be exactly what the world needs.
In my case, I started blogging in 2014 to explore my passion for writing. With blogging came the opportunity to put my tech and design skills to use. I later went to grad school to get my Master’s degree in Health & Wellness Coaching, which was in a totally different realm from my undergrad degree in Sociology.
Eventually, I left my 9-5 to pursue self-employment. Later down the road, I became a contractor for an email marketing company. All of these things have allowed me to use my different passions and skills in different ways. Somehow everything has come together in a way that I could never have anticipated for myself.
Sometimes you have to think outside of the box or simply stop trying to force your passions into work. Life often gives you just what you need in a way you could never have planned for at the exact time that you need it.
What Are Your Passions In Life?
I hope this shows you that there are so many ways to bring your passions together in a way that is fulfilling to you. It’s not always a straightforward process, but hopefully you have more clarity around your goals for the future after reading this post.