Every day I try to learn something from experiences and people that have what I want, and I often hear similar topics being discussed by thought leaders. This is about one in particular:
"How does someone find their passion?"
It's an age old question that has no definitive answer. But a recent conversation between James Altucher and Chip Conley inspired me to answer for myself in regards to work and life, in general.
Because being passionate about your work and where you invest large amounts of time is key to doing and feeling good about your life. Passion is also, perhaps, the X-factor in being consistently happy day in and and day out. Because if you're passionate about what you're doing, work doesn't feel like work at all, right?
So how do people find their passion?
First of all, I am a firm believer that the more we look for passion in our lives, the harder it is to find. Think of finding your passion like trying to find a girl/boyfriend- when you want one most, you don't find one. It's only until you stop looking that someone special happens to come along.
Instead of looking for passion, allow passion to find you. Understand that you, as a human, are passionate. Start by being open to the idea that passion is all around you. Don't look for it, but trust that it's within you.
For me, a slight change in framing lead to an epiphany that helped me better understand my passion. I was listening to James Altucher's interview with Chip Conley when it happened. Chip, currently Head of Hospitality at AirBnB, was sharing the story of how he found his calling in the world of hospitality. He explained that finding his calling began with taking a look back on his childhood and life as a young adult. He thought back to when he was young to recall what he enjoyed doing most as a child.
Childhood. That magical time in our lives when playing was our job. Chip explained that if we look back on our childhood and recall what we were doing when time seemed endless, we may realize what our calling is. What did you most enjoy doing as a child? Even in high school or college. What did you enjoy doing so much that made you feel like an incredible version of yourself? What excited you? What would you do for free? What made you feel free?
That thing you enjoyed doing most, that you would do for free, that made you feel free, is your calling.
Back to the idea of opening yourself up and allowing your passion to find you, instead of you finding your passion. Passion and calling are one in the same. This is the reframe that lead me to realizing my passion.
And this is the secret to finding your passion:
Passion = Your Calling. And because they are one in the same, your passion will call to you. Be patient, be open to the call, and your passion will manifest itself.
I'm passionate about entrepreneurship, always have been. And for a very long time I was in denial about that. Instead of accepting that I'm most passionate about something so high-level as "entrepreneurship," I blocked it.
Everyone is always talking about the importance of finding a niche and focusing on your biggest strengths. Well, one of my biggest strengths is my adaptability. And I'm a generalist. A, "Jack of all trades," if you will. So being knowledgeable and passionate about a broad activity like "entrepreneurship" actually makes sense for me.
But at it's core, entrepreneurship is about creating value where value didn't exist before. It's a person taking an idea and turning that idea into something valuable. It's a concept that keeps me curious and its excites me more than anything ever has. I am so incredibly passionate about entrepreneurship that it calls to me every day of my life.
Now it's your turn.
Take a moment and think about your childhood and the moments you were happiest. Think about the moments when time stood still, or the moment when time didn't seem to exist at all. What were you doing in those moments? This is the first step to your passion finding you.
There are exercises that will help you envision those special moments. For example, if thinking about your past and what you enjoyed as a child doesn't work immediately, answer these five questions about the present:
What excites me most during my days?
What do I look forward to doing most often?
Outside of working, what do I spend most of my time doing?
If money didn't matter, what would I do with my days?
What do I day dream about often?
Writing the answers to these is a great start and it will get your brain churning in the right direction.
Finally, a reiteration that patience is really most important. Because if you're patient you'll stop looking for passion, and instead, your passion will call to you.
Make sure you're there when your passion calls.