Career Q&A: How do I find my passion?

Q: What if I don’t have a passion? What do you recommend I do to find one?

A: First of all, I encourage you to define passion any way you’d like. It’s romantic to believe that we should all “just know” what makes us feel passionately. I don’t believe that’s true for everyone. Passions can—and often do—appear and grow and change.

Finding a career-related passion can be particularly difficult for today’s young professionals. After spending almost your entire life so far in school, you’re now facing an entire world of possibilities—more options than any generation in history. It can be hard to find the passion amid the pressure.

Here are some tips to help:

Be greedy. Don’t just look for one passion. Explore and enjoy as many as you’d like.

Be proactive. I don’t believe that you can just sit in your dorm room or bedroom, think really, really hard and figure out the best plan for your future. Thinking and self-reflection are definitely part of the equation, but you’ll learn much more about yourself—and do it much more quickly—if you combine thinking with action. Say yes to invitations to try new things—trips, volunteer opportunities, games, concerts, art exhibits. Talk to lots of people about their careers and hobbies and interests. Think of yourself as an active explorer.

Be curious. Go to a newsstand or bookstore or video store and browse aimlessly. Pick up every article or magazine or book or movie that interests you in any way—even if you’re not sure why—and keep notes on your likes and dislikes. Trust your instincts to attract you to your natural passions.

Be immature. Think back to when you were a kid. What did you like to do? Sing, dance, read, play video games, wrestle, paint, write, care for animals? Ask your family and childhood friends what activities you were naturally drawn to as a child and try picking those up again. Even if your interests have changed, “playing” like a kid will bring you back to a natural, authentic state of mind and heart.

Finally, be patient with yourself and enjoy the process of finding all of your passions. This is the fun stuff! And I promise you that the journey of finding your passions is more than worth the effort.

Good luck!

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