Your life is a routine of mindless repetition.
Most of your days are spent working long hours just so you can “get by,” and by the end of each day, you always seem to end up slouched in front of the TV as you binge watch Netflix.
The whole time, you wish you could devote your efforts toward something that you feel truly passionate about.
You’ve read common advice such as “follow your passion” or “do what makes you happy” but have never got any real value from it. And that’s not surprising since advice like this is vague and does very little to help you actually find what it is that you’re most passionate about.
Instead, you’re left with this bored and empty feeling holding you down like an anchor.
And it hurts.
You want your life to be full of excitement because you’ve found something that you love to do so much that you’ll wake up at 5AM, spend most of your waking hours doing it and most importantly, persist through any challenges along the way.
That’s what I want for you.
Today, I’d like to share with you three questions that have helped me uncover the things that I’m most passionate about in my life so that you can do the same.
But first, let’s quickly talk about the common advice around finding your passion and why it’s not too helpful.
Why “follow your passion” is bad advice
One of the biggest problems with advice like this, is that it suggests that your passion is something that’s already within you and has been there since birth and all you have to do is follow it.
Yet, we’ve all experienced first hand how difficult it can be to make a decision as big as what you want to dedicate your life to. If all one had to do was follow something that’s already within them, then very few people would struggle finding their passion.
We create our own lives. And while it is possible to be naturally good at something, nobody is ever born to do anything. Every path a person takes in life, is a path they take because they decided to do so.
Sometimes this decision is made consciously with intention, other times it is made unconsciously out of habit. But whatever the thought process and whatever the circumstances, we always have an opportunity to make a choice.
Forget the idea of your passion being something that’s already inside you waiting for you to follow it.
Instead, commit to exploring the things you love and make the decision to pursue it.
Why “do what makes you happy” is bad advice
In certain circumstances, this can be good advice. However, when used to help you find your passion, it’s not always as helpful as you might think.
The things you’re passionate about will almost certainly bring you immense amounts of joy.
However, almost everything that’s worth doing in life also comes with a great deal of pain and suffering.
If you’re passionate about a certain sport, you also deal with the frustration of defeat, the drudgery of hard work and constant fear that you’re not good enough. Still, you carry on because you love that sport more than anything else.
If you’re passionate about a certain art form, you also deal the frustration of rejection, the drudgery of trying to be heard through the noise of the world and the constant fear that nobody will like what you create. Still, you carry on because you love that art form more than anything else.
Sadly, it’s because of this reality that so few people ever actually pursue their passion. They want to experience the joys their passion can bring but are unwilling to go through the difficult but necessary hardships along the way.
When you make the decision to pursue your passion, you also commit to both the good and bad things that come with it.
So think deeply as you explore the things you’re passionate about and ask yourself; do I love this so much that I’d endure whatever pain and suffering I have to, just to do it again?
With that out of the way, let’s talk about how you can find what it is that you’re passionate about.
Who do you want to be surrounded by?
Like it or not, we humans are a tribal race. This means we all have a deep need to help and belong to others as part of their tribe. This is also why loneliness and rejection are among the most painful of things you can experience in life.
Very few people on this planet can live passionate and fulfilled lives by themselves.
Instead of focusing so much on what it is you want to do with your life, give more attention to who you want to surround yourself with.
I’m not so much talking about your friends and family here (although they are important if you want to live meaningfully). I’m talking about other people who are passionate about the same things that you are who you can truly share that passion with.
Would you feel happy to spend the rest of your life around people who have nothing in common with you except for the company you work? I’m gonna guess not.
Even if you’re the most unique and eccentric person you know, there are always people who can empathise with you and show you that you are not alone in this world.
Would you feel happy to spend the rest of your life around people who value you as an important part of something greater than yourself?
What do you fear doing the most?
So often, we’re encouraged to avoid things that bring about fear and by doing so, fail to recognise its true value.
Whether or not something strikes fear within you is one of the best ways I know to determine how meaningful it truly is to you.
As you explore what it is that you’re passionate about, be sure to distinguish fear from indifference.
Indifference is the feeling you get when doing something drains your energy until you feel too fatigued to do anything. Fear on the other hand charges your body with energy that can be used to do things you may not have even believed you could do.
When you pursue something as your passion, the chances that you’ll experience fear are almost guaranteed. It’s simply unavoidable. We’re only human after all. So the best thing you can do is learn how to use fear to your advantage.
Recognise what it is that you fear most in life and let that be your compass.
If there’s something you feel you want to do but can’t because you’re too afraid, then you NEED to do that thing. @DigitalMinimal (Click to Tweet!)
What do you regret NOT doing the most?
Like fear, regret is also something that people believe should be avoided or let go of.
People tell you to never have regrets, that what’s done is done, that you should forget about the past and focus on your life right now. But also like fear, the things you regret not doing in your life can reveal a great deal of insights into what you are most passionate about.
And some of the most painful regrets you’ll ever experience in life come not from the things you’ve done, but from the things you didn’t do. To not even try even when the opportunity is well within your grasp can actually hurt more than total failure.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn how to do but never took the time to study it? Is there something you’ve always loved to do but can’t because you’re too busy doing other things instead?
Or have you followed a well worn path that someone else chose for you as opposed to following your own heart? No matter how old or how young you are, it’s never too late to make the decision to do what you’re most passionate about.
Explore your deepest regrets from your life. Are there any that you truly want to set right during your time in this world?
One final word, is that your passion is not something that is set in stone. Whatever you decide to pursue as your passion, will grow and evolve constantly over time.
You don’t have to have all of the answers before you pursue your passion.
Once you have an idea of what might fill you with everlasting joy, make a commitment to it. Try not to worry too much about what you do not making you as happy as you thought it might.
Sometimes the only way to tell for sure that something will make you happy, is to try it for yourself. If things don’t work out you can always go back to the drawing board and explore yourself once again.
As long as you persist with this, you WILL find things that you are truly passionate about. And that life of mindless repetition that you’re all too familiar with will change to a life of adventure, joy and meaning.
Craig Link is a minimalist and technology enthusiast with a passion for helping people live simpler, more focused lives. Follow his blog for tips on how you can simplify your life and overcome some of the challenges that come with modern day living.
Image courtesy of FreelyPhotos.