Again, not a typo. I purposely spelled out the title in a simple and incorrect way because knowing your passions should be self-evident and uncomplicated. If you’re like me, you let other stuff get in the way and bury the truth. I’ve always known I was made to create. Always. But I liked the way the country club membership, the BMW, and the nice paychecks made me feel and I let that define me. It’s been that way for the past several years, until I found out that I was going to have a son.
Suddenly, my obsession shifted from my image to my legacy. It was as if the armor and trappings of my built up self image could be taken off and laid down for good. I felt as though I had a fairly concrete understanding of who I was until the moment my wife told me, “John, it’s a boy!” I cried like a baby for a number of reasons, but the burning desire to be a passionate role model for Jack has consumed me ever since. I began asking myself things like, ‘Who are you? What makes you tick? What drives you? What do you want to be remembered for?” Coupled with my grandmother’s recent passing, my vision became crystalline for the first time ever. It is as though I had always known it was there, but was too afraid to declare it.
I’m going to share with you the process I have undergone to determine my passions, and I hope it helps you recover yours.
- Define the word “passion” for yourself – For me, it means my relationship to the things with which I am obsessed, the things I can’t stop thinking about in my spare time, the things that keep coming back to me no matter what. Obsession has a negative denotation but I refuse to accept that. The people who were obsessed with an idea truly changed the world, not the ones who had a hobby. Obviously, my entire pursuit on this blog is discover the passions of others and learn from them. I’m a naturally curious person and I want to know what makes people feel alive. My personal passions are my wife and family, my children, and creating things. Those are things that keep me up at night and that never leave my soul.
- Don’t overthink it – The paralysis of analysis is a real thing, folks. For the longest time, I tried to cram outcome into my reason for passion. The formula went something like this, “If X makes money, then it’s my passion,” or, “If this pays more than $100k a year, then it must be my passion.” Your passion is the thing that your subconscious continually returns to with no concern for monetization. If you’re honest, you know what it is without having to think for hours.
- Stop caring about what other people think – This one is the hardest by far. We are wired as human beings to connect to others and there’s nothing wrong with that. Where we go wrong is when we DEFINE ourselves by the opinions of other people. I could easily let myself feel embarrassed or ashamed of the fact that I’m 33 years old and love to listen to organ and choral music. I just choose not to give one scintilla of my emotional energy to the perceived thoughts of others in relation to my passion. Stop being scared of what other people think. You are not defined by their thoughts.
- Start doing, right now – This one crippled me for the longest time because I, like most people, like to have a plan before I jump into something. This approach doesn’t get you anywhere at all because the fear of failure stops you from taking action. Check out my blog Failure is an Illusion to see how you can overcome this assassin of passion. Simply doing something, regardless of how polished it is, will always leave you feeling better than planning and doing nothing. This blog is the result of massive action with very little planning. I’m not saying to do things without an end goal in mind, but you need to be plastic enough to let that change take place over time instead of being the guiding factor to the process. Progress over perfection is key here.
These are my 4 suggestions for rooting through the noise and finding your passion. I’d love to know – what are your passions? As you can see, it’s kind of an obsession of mine. I think if the world were filled with truly passionate people, we would come together and close the gulf drawn out by our differences. The irony is this – in our uniqueness, we bond together. Has this helped? Please drop a comment below to let me know. Have a passion-filled day!