“Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate.” — Jon Bon Jovi
You’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve read or heard that passion is the answer to all your problems. If you could just find what you are passionate about nothing else would matter because you would wake up every day, jump out of bed and work on what you love. You would never question your life because ultimately if you are working on what you love to do, there is nothing to question.
You’ve nailed life you can find what you are passionate about. Yet there is very little advice on actually finding what you are passionate about. How do you go about finding what you love to do? How do you know if you love it or you're just telling yourself you love it? How do you know if you’ve explored enough? Well, those are all valid questions that we’re about to explore.
1. You understand that sea of opportunity is as deep as the real thing
There are a million careers out there. There are, of course, the obvious ones. Teacher, banker, lawyer, doctor, social worker, the ones that if you stick to the path carved out for you, you’ll make it too. Most typically that’s university, work experience and an entry-level job followed by years of working up the ladder.
There are though, a plethora of jobs out there that your teachers perhaps didn’t tell you about, that might well be the perfect fit for you:
- Data Scientist
- Customer Specialist
- Strategy and Regulatory Advisor
- User Researcher
- Data Engineer
- Product and Service Designer
They all exist, if we only knew where to look. Then you also have the luxury of being the right age for the era of the internet. There are endless amount of opportunities online. Those include, but are not limited to:
- Freelance Writer
- Freelance Designer
- Affiliate Marketer
- Amazon Reseller
- eBay Reseller
There was a story recently of a couple who’d left their corporate jobs and bought a sailboat. They had no experience sailing when they left, yet they documented their whole journey and they have been sailing around the world for the last ten years. They make a full-time living from filming themselves and putting their videos on YouTube.
I mean, come on!
In a nutshell:
The world we live in today is just screaming with opportunities. You have entered the world of endless possibilities if you choose to see them. So yes, if you want to be a teacher, lawyer, doctor that’s amazing. However, if you don’t, you don’t need to squeeze yourself into those boxes, there are so many options out there.
2. You realise that the reality is that no one has a clue what they are doing
The likelihood is, you won’t know what you want to with your life yet, how would you? There is so much of the world that you have never seen. The first thing to say about that is, it’s totally normal. There is this odd and false perception that everyone on LinkedIn, Instagram and all your friends have this master plan that they are totally on track for.
News flash: no one has got it figured out, we’re all just going with the flow.
You are used to structure from your schooling days, so when you are flushed into the big wide world and everything is completely up to you, you get a little overwhelmed. I know I did. All of a sudden everything is up to you. If you want to go sailing for a year, you can. If you want to go travel the globe, you can. If you want to get a corporate job and work 9–5, you can. There is no one looking after your performance anymore, no teachers telling you your homework isn’t in on time or to the right standard.
In a nutshell:
You are now setting the pace which is a brilliant thing but you need to choose to embrace it. Don’t believe that everyone has any idea what they are doing, they don’t, we’re all just learning as we go.
3. You are clear on who is in control — yourself
So with that in mind, the first thing you need to do is accept that you are in control. You are in control of your life. You are steering the ship (seen as we’ve got the sailing analogy we may as well continue on with it).
There are some things, obviously, not in your control. I’m not saying you are in control of the market if your boss has woken up on the wrong side of the bed or the weather. However, you are in control of so much.
Once you realise this is your life and your job is to fulfil it with as much as you can, well then the world is your oyster.
A while ago I was wallowing that I hadn’t found what I wanted to do with my life. That I’d done everything right in my life (so I thought). I’d got good grades at school, I went to a good University, I tried hard, I got a graduate scheme in a good company. Yet, here I was, not fulfilled. I’d have days where I wouldn’t know what to do, I’d worry that this was my life forever and I didn’t know what to do about it.
Somewhere between the 6th breakdown and nearly applying to be a Barista I realised that this was all within my power to change. However, that change needed to start with my mindset.
In a nutshell:
No one is coming to save you. If you are not happy with where you are only you have the power to change that.
4. You know your life is more like the matrix than you might think
If there is one thing that has stuck with me about the important of mindset, it’s about your grip on reality. It’s the fact that we experience our own reality. There is no one version of the truth because everyone sees things differently. Once I realised that we create our own reality and we tell ourselves a story about the present, then I knew I could take control of that.
Let me explain.
You are in a meeting. Boardroom type, 7–8 people in suits all focused on the task at hand. They are asking questions about the plan of action and what’s next. You explain and they ask another round of questions. You have lunch and have some conversation about the state of the world and then it’s off to your next meeting.
You got a grilling, it was obvious you had no clue what was going on, they know you are crap at your job.
They were inquisitive and interested in what you had to say. You answered well and they were pleased with what you had to say.
Well, that’s up to you. It’s a little bit like the blue and red pill in the matrix. You can choose your reality. It’s a little bit spooky when you look at it like that but you can really choose a version. You can choose to see the good or you can choose to see the bad. It’s up to you.
5. Applying that logic to your job
That leaves two choices:
- You can choose to think you are in a dead-end job, going nowhere, with no prospects, you’re doomed.
2. You can choose to see the good. You can choose to tell yourself that this is the first steps of many steps in your career.
You’re not lost you are just early and everyone feels a little overwhelmed at the start. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve got a million things to choose from and that choice will dictate how your life plays out. No pressure.
You can choose to see this as a challenge.
- Those skills you’ve not got? Well, there is an internet full of great teachers waiting to educate you.
- Those career prospects you’ve not got? There are plenty of people on this planet doing the job you want, go and chat to them and see what they did.
- That salary you’re not making yet? Google the top ten things you can do to increase your salary and get cracking.
There are, in my mind, two things you need to do before you embark on any kind of journey to find your dream job.
- Realise you are in total control of your life (and I mean really realise, feel it)
- Understand that you make your own reality, so you can choose to be positive or you can choose to be negative. You can choose to see opportunities or to see obstacles. The obstacle is the way in the words of Ryan Holliday.
So now what, in control, mind right, what next?
6. You realised that life is the art of experimentation which is a science
Experiments allow us to see the truth. They don’t leave anything up to the imagination. They give us results. Experimentation is the building blocks to advancements in science that have paved the way for the medicine we take and the care we get.
Experimentation can be applied to passions as well.
If you don’t know what you want to do, the best thing you can do is try on lots of different careers. Now, I’m not saying get a job, try it for a week, move on to the next. That’s not it at all. What I’m saying is, apply the same science you would to an experiment to your career.
For example, let’s say you’ve got an incline that you would like to teach in some capacity. You’re not sure you want to be an actual teacher, however, you do think that you would like to teach in some way, shape or form.
So, what would the experiment look like?
Test name: Teaching Experiment
Test Length: 1 month
Hypothesis: If I teach for a month I will increase my job satisfaction by 1 point.
1a) Benchmark measurement, I will need to measure my mood for the next 2 weeks to understand what my average mood is prior to my experiment taking place.
1b) Measure my mood at the start, middle and end of every day out of 10. 10 being very satisfied, 1 being very unsatisfied.
2) Take qualitative (words) findings in the form of journalling for 2 minutes at the end of my day, specifically aimed at understanding what elements I like about teaching and what elements I do not like.
The hypothesis is proven if my mood increases by 1 point overall on average after a month of teaching.
Now, this may seem overkill. However, if you want real results and you want to figure out what you enjoy and what you don’t, you’ll need to apply some science. There are some great mood apps you can download, Daylio is a favourite, it allows you to record your mood out of 5 and gives you a monthly summary.
By doing this for a few of your hypotheses you’ll realise quite quickly what peaks your mood and what doesn’t.
Only through testing do we learn.
7. You could spend the next 10 years doing nothing and still have a huge amount of time
When you’re young, you have the best gift in the world: time. You can spend the first ten years of our careers testing things. That doesn’t necessarily mean jumping careers every month, you can test different elements in the same job. To find what you love you need to taste as many different things as possible. You’ll quickly find themes that give you fulfilment. Themes are less specific but they are build of maybe several different elements. A theme could be anything, maybe you like building things and seeing results.
- Continuous improvement — you like improving 1% every day.
- BAU — business as usual, you like repeating the same thing over and over and that certain tasks need to get done in the week, every week.
- Step change — you enjoy working on things that eventually will bring about a big change.
- Change in general — you like working on one thing now but know in a few months you’ll be working on a different project and you like that.
- People — you like working with people, either collaboratively or in a managerial capacity.
- Data- you like working with numbers (and not people).
To figure this stuff out, the only way to really do it is to test.
Finding your passion is a vague statement. It’s hard to know where to start and how to go about it. Yet there are some practical steps that can help you get closer to finding what you love. It’s important to not get overwhelmed by the opportunities out there and take note of the story you are telling yourself. It’s also key to realise you are the only one that is able to change your future, don’t rely on someone else.
Fulfilment comes in knowing who you are. It’s hard at the start of your career to work out who you are and what you want but there are techniques you can use. One of the best and most trustworthy is using experimentation to learn what you like and what you dislike. If you experiment properly you will find you’ve got tangible results that you can use for years to come.
Above all else trust me, there is some light at the end of the seemingly very long, dark tunnel. You just need to find your torch.