“Follow your passion.” You hear this advice echoed by self-help gurus, career counselors, and some of the most inspiring humans to ever exist. According to them, pursuing your passion will lead you to fulfillment. But what if you have yet to discover your passion in life?
Chances are, you know someone who stumbled upon their passion from a young age and pursued it persistently into adulthood until it eventually became their career. They’ve probably had their entire path figured out since they were a child. Unless you’re one of those lucky humans, finding your passion in life can be a frightening and frustrating task. If you’re struggling to discover the thing that makes you feel truly alive, you’re not alone.
The good news is that it’s never too late to realize your passion. In this article, I’ll explore what it means to live a passionate life, why discovering what sets your soul on fire is important, and how it can be possible for you to uncover yours.
- What does it mean to discover your passion?
- Harmonious vs. obsessive passion
- Why is discovering your passion important?
- Reasons you might be struggling to find your passion
- Tips on how to discover your passion in life
- Wrapping up
What does it mean to discover your passion?
As humans, we naturally crave a life full of passion. We watch other people pursue their own passions, find incredible success and happiness, and naturally wish the same for ourselves.
There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.Nelson Mandela
Passion is simply defined as something that makes life worth living. To discover your passion means to find a strong inclination towards a self-defining activity that you deem important. As a result, you eagerly invest your time and energy into that activity.
In a way, finding your passion is an essential part of becoming the most authentic version of yourself. A 2015 study on Australian workers revealed that an occupation considered to be a passion is closely linked to perceptions of authentic selfhood.
Harmonious vs. obsessive passion
Although passion is often correlated to success and fulfillment, there are some people who suffer because of their passion.
A Canadian psychologist, Dr. Robert Vallerand, posited that there are two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive. This dualistic model results in two very different experiences, one healthy and the other harmful, in the pursuit of passion.
Individuals with harmonious passion follow the passion of their own volition. This allows their authentic self to show up while they engage in their passion.
As a result, they are able to freely and fully immerse themselves in an activity they love without being a slave to it. People with harmonious passions experience improved well-being, greater life satisfaction, and personal growth.
Conversely, those with obsessive passion pursue it with reckless abandon. They feel compelled to pursue their passion and lose their sense of self-control. Although chasing your passion relentlessly is a romantic notion, it can be unhealthy and consuming.
Those with obsessive passion are prone to feelings of shame and loss of self-control. A 2010 study also found that obsessive passion frequently leads to burnout.
Therefore, it’s crucial to be mindful of your approach to discovering your passion and your relationship to your passion once you find it.
Why is discovering your passion important?
It turns out that being passionate about life is beneficial for your overall well-being.
A 2009 study found that individuals who harmoniously engage in an activity that they’re passionate about experience greater levels of hedonic and eudaimonic happiness. This means along with producing feelings of pleasure and enjoyment, following your passion can give you meaning and purpose.
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
These findings are reiterated by a 2017 study that concluded that individuals who pursue their passion harmoniously and with more self-control experience an improvement in well-being.
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Reasons you might be struggling to find your passion
If you’re having trouble figuring out your passion, it’s possible that your perception is hindering your quest.
Perceiving passion as something that is inherent can be extremely limiting, according to a 2018 study. The belief that passion is fixed as opposed to something that is developed can generate more reluctance to try new things and a tendency to easily give up when it becomes difficult. Therefore, it’s best to adopt the view that passion is something to be developed once you find it.
Another possible reason why your passion is eluding could be due to a narrow focus. The same study shows that those who believe they can only be passionate about one thing are more likely to focus on a single passion. This prevents them from exploring other interests in the event that they realize that particular passion is not for them.
In reality, you probably have multiple passions. It’s ultimately up to you to decide which passion or passions are worthy of your time and effort.
Tips on how to discover your passion in life
Discovering their passion is a daunting task for many people, but it doesn’t have to be for you. Here are a few tips to help you on this exciting quest for self-discovery.
1. Try new things
Seems simple enough, right? To maximize your chances of encountering your passion, it’s a good idea to expose yourself to as many activities as possible. This means opening yourself to new experiences that may be outside of your comfort zone.
Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to try various potential passions. You could sign up for a lesson online or watch a few how-to YouTube videos for free on something that sparks your interest. Another good strategy is to try the passions of your friends or partner. If they take lessons, accompany them. If they offer lessons, graciously accept them.
Here's another article on our blog that discusses numerous new things to try if you're looking to spice things up.
2. Practice self-awareness
It’s crucial to be completely honest with yourself when trying to discover your passion in life. This can save you a lot of time and effort invested in a passion that was never meant for you in the first place.
One of the best tools for improving self-awareness is journaling. There are plenty of useful journal prompts to help you find your passion. Some possible prompts could be:
- What’s something that comes easier to me than it does for most people?
- What activities do I lose track of time doing?
- What’s the one thing I can do for the rest of my life and not get tired of?
Another strategy to boost self-awareness is to take some personality tests. If you haven’t already, figure out your Myers–Briggs Type Indicator or your Enneagram of Personality. Understanding yourself a bit better might paint a clearer picture of your passion, or at the very least, point you in the right direction to search.
3. Enlist your inner child’s help
If you’re familiar with inner child work, you know that it’s a powerful tool for addressing any unmet needs, dysfunctional patterns, and unresolved emotions we experienced as children. However, it can also be used to uncover your true passion.
As a child, you didn’t hold the same limiting beliefs you might possess as an adult. You were free to pursue your interests to your heart’s content. There’s a good chance you discovered your passion as a child and dismissed it as an adult for something more practical. By engaging your inner child in an honest and open conversation, you might be able to unlock some forgotten wisdom on how you can find fulfillment as an adult.
To enlist your inner child’s help in discovering what makes you feel truly alive, try asking yourself the following questions:
- When I was a child, what did I want to be when I grew up?
- What was I naturally drawn to as a child?
- What are my happiest childhood memories? What was I doing in them?
- Who was my role model growing up?
- What was my favorite subject in school?
4. Approach conversations with curiosity
There is an exhaustible variety of passions in this world, and probably, a rich variety within your own social circle. Ask your friends and family about their passions. Engage in conversations with your co-worker to learn more about their passions and potentially find yours.
In addition to paying attention to what others say during a conversation, observe yourself as well. Notice any topics that make you light up when it comes up in conversation. Pay heed to the subjects that you talk extensively and enthusiastically about. They might be trying to tell you something.
5. Take inventory of your skills, interests, and values
There’s a good chance you’ve already encountered your passion. It’s just waiting for you to realize it was there all along. To figure out whether or not your passion is hiding beneath your skills, interests, and values, take inventory.
To take inventory of your skills, consider the following questions:
- What skills do I naturally excel at?
- Do I have any underdeveloped talents? Is there a skill I’m frequently praised for despite my lack of practice?
- What compliments have I received in the past from teachers and employers?
Taking inventory of your interests seems straightforward, but in addition to jotting down a list of topics that interest you, consider:
- Looking for patterns in your book collection or your search history. What do you voluntarily spend a lot of time learning about?
- Review your spending habits. What do you spend most of your disposable income on?
When taking inventory of your values, consider these questions:
- Identify moments when you were most proud of yourself. What made you proud?
- Recognize moments when time flows in strange ways. What activities were you doing?
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Discovering your passion in life doesn’t have to be nearly as intimidating or complicated as many people make it out to be. With the right perspective and approach, it can be a rewarding journey into self-discovery. By stepping outside of your comfort zone, committing to understanding yourself better, and approaching life with curiosity, you’ll stumble upon at least one of your possibly many passions sooner than you think.
What do you think? Have you recently found your passion and want to share it with us? Or do you have an example of how your passion can develop into something different over time? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!