Finding your passion is no easy task for many people and in my own life experience. Many of us want to find work that we love and enjoy, and most of us want to feel passionate about our work or about something in life. We all want to be happy, and having something in our lives that we are passionate about makes us feel more joyful, fulfilled, alive, excited and like life has purpose and meaning. However, often times it’s not easy to find a life purpose or a life’s passion. I will tell you my personal story of finding a passion with the hope that it may help you.
My Quest to Find Passion in My Career
When I first started out in my career, I wanted nothing more than to find work that I loved, felt passionate about and which reflected my personal values and beliefs. So after college, I sought my first job, and many thereafter, with that goal in mind.
I had many different career interests and had trouble deciding which to pursue first or even lifelong. I was very conflicted, but I began in mental health since I had grown up with a family member who worked in the field, and I also already had some experience. When I started to burn out in my job after two years, I switched directions and pursued another interest I had, study/travel abroad, since I had lived and studied abroad several times myself. However, I worked in an unsatisfactory, rather lowly position, so I moved on to explore other interests. In fact, I returned to mental health and entered graduate school for social work at that time. Something did not quite click for me though, so after that I switched to Human Resources. After a couple more years, I was still not satisfied with my career choice, and somewhat accidentally from there, I ended up working in higher education as an Administrative Assistant.
Next, something quite magical, completely unplanned and life changing occurred which formed my future career direction from which I finally found a passion. In my role as an Administrative Assistant, I made suggestions for how to improve customer service delivery through the website since I received the majority of customer inquiries and complaints. As a result, I ended up managing the website content and then an entire website redesign which incorporated my own design ideas.
Through this experience, I learned that I had a creative flare, an eye for design and an intuitive sense for user experience. These were skills that I naturally had. I did not have to work at them, in other words, but rather these things came very naturally to me. So from there, I ended up pursuing website management positions.
Website management was not quite my passion, however. It became dull and boring to me. I was not utilizing my favorite and natural skills, which I learned included creative and strategic thinking and writing. Within one of my website management roles, I worked within the digital marketing department. At one point it occurred to me that digital marketing involved using my favorite and natural skills. So next, I moved into digital marketing, where I still remain today.
During this long period of career exploration, I poured over self-help books having to do with careers and finding your true life’s passion and calling. I read What Color is Your Parachute, The Artist’s Way and Journey to You: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Who You Were Born to Be. I even took the Myers Briggs personality test, connecting the results with specific personality-matched career paths. I also hired a career coach who administered different values, skills and interests tests. From each of these pursuits, I learned that I had been on the right path all along in terms of matching my values, interests and personality profile to careers I had chosen.
What I learned the most from my pursuit to find a passion in my career is that when we use our natural and most favorite skills, we are in fact, much happier and more fulfilled. When we are forced to use skills that do not come naturally to us, or which are much more difficult for us, our work becomes harder, more arduous and more painful. Work then feels like real work because it does not come naturally or easily. On the opposite end, when we use skills that we naturally own and which come easily for us, work is much easier and much more enjoyable. As a result, we feel happier, more fulfilled and more satisfied.
So through my career hopping period of self-exploration, I accidentally yet somewhat purposely ended up in a career that utilizes what I do best and most naturally. I am passionate about it because I enjoy using my natural skill set, I am happier than if I were using skills that were difficult for me, and it is very fulfilling for me as a result.
Finding a Passion Does Not Have to Involve Your Career
Secondly, I learned that while I enjoy my current career and am passionate about it, I have another, even greater passion that I pursue outside of work. I’ve learned through my own career exploration that our passions do not have to necessarily involve our careers; they can involve a hobby or a personal interest. My greatest passion above and beyond my career involves helping people. I have always had a passion for mental health and psychology, however, at different points in my career, I decided against becoming a therapist. In fact, I entered graduate school twice to become a therapist, yet determined both times that it was not quite the right fit for me.
Instead, I now help people on a mental health forum during my spare time. Doing so is very fulfilling and rewarding for me when I know I am making a positive difference in others’ lives. In addition to helping on the forum, I decided to create this blog to help people become happier in their lives. I am very passionate about this endeavor and am embracing it fully. Both of these hobbies give my life meaning, purpose and direction, and I am much happier for having them. So I have found a passion outside of my career to pursue and throw all of my energy into.
Pursuing a passion outside of work can also include gaining a new skill you do not currently own. I have a friend who had a passion for and interest in sailing, yet he had never sailed before in his life. He took sailing lessons, gained a captain’s license and bought a sailboat! He even sailed southward along the east coast from Boston to Florida by himself! So anything is possible. If there is a new skill you wish to gain that you are passionate about, go for it!
So from my own personal story that I’ve shared, finding your passion can be a process of exploration as well as trial and error. It can take time to figure out, but it is an endeavor well worth pursuing because finding something you are passionate about contributes to your overall happiness and well-being in life.
The wisdom I can also pass along includes discovering what you are naturally best at doing and enjoy doing the most within your job or career, and pursuing positions/careers that involve those skills. It can also involve simply finding a personal interest you are passionate about to pursue as a hobby.
Without purpose and meaning in life and without passion, we are rudderless and flap in the wind aimlessly. With purpose, meaning and passion, we walk taller, we stand taller, we walk with purpose and we feel happier and more complete.
So my advice is to explore and pursue your interests to find what will be most fulfilling for you. Follow your heart’s desires, let passion guide you and you will find your bliss! I also recommend the aforementioned books to help you in the process. Those three books helped me tremendously and provide a unique step-by-step process to learn what you are most passionate about.
Finding a passion in life is a process of self-discovery and self-exploration that can be fun, exciting, exhilarating and fulfilling all on its own, so enjoy the journey! And remember, it’s never too late! People late in life can still find a passion to pursue.
Here’s to finding your passion and to your happiness!