We are all looking for our passion but most of us got the concept all wrong.
You are NOT born with passions
We are NOT born with passions. We are born with talents.
We do NOT find our passions. We find our talents which can give us a hint as to what might be worth trying out.
We are NOT given passions by nature. We construct them, hatch them and nurture them.
In search of your passion…
Maybe you already have passions. If you are in search of those existing sources of passion asking yourself: “What am I passionate about?” won’t help much.
Instead ask: “What thing do I feel immersed in when I do it?”, “What subject can I study and discuss about for hours?”.
This doesn’t have to be related to your career by the way. Weightlifting🏋️♂️, bird watching🦆, pottery making🏺, charity work💙, philosophy🏛️ can all be passions of yours. And though they could, these don’t have to become your career just because you are passionate about them. Though a career in something you are passionate is one of the biggest achievements one can accomplish.
If you are convinced there is nothing you are remotely passionate about, you are not broken by design, it is up to you to create it. If you want to create new passions, stop looking inside your soul. Instead lift your head up and look outside! Go out and try stuff!
The fact that passion is something that can be constructed and chosen and not something that we are born with, is as paralysing as empowering. Where in the world do we start? What do we pick? The options are vast…
Idea 1: Follow your curiosity
The seed of passion is curiosity. Curiosity can then lead to interest which can grow into love which can then flourish into passion.
Are you curious or remotely interested in something? Take a deep dreath and dive right in. Build a website🖥️, book a saxophone class🎷, signup for an online course in jewellery making💍, write a blog about sneakers👟, ask to be involved in that interesting design project at work🖌️, try baking some sourdough🥖, volunteer to go teach science in Cambodia👨🏫.
Idea 2: Follow your talents
“Most people get this backwards. They think we discover our passion, and that makes us good at something. It’s actually finding that you’re good which comes first.” — Oliver Emberton
Maybe you are good with data📊 or you are very charismatic💬 or you are good at debating🗣️. At the same time it would be smart to avoid things you will probably not excel at because of a disadvantage: maybe don’t try singing if your ears cannot understand tonality🎤, maybe don’t get into long distance running if your knees are weak🏃♀️, maybe don’t get into banking if you have a high moral compass.💰
What I am not advocating here is to stay away from anything that you are not ‘telented’ in. Talent is not a necessity to be passionate*. All talent does, is to increase the odds of that thing you are trying out, developing into a passion. Because you can become better faster. And it is that feel-good feeling of growth, of being good at something, that keeps the fire burning strong.
If you are very curious about something but not talented, heck; definitely try it out, don’t let that stop you.
*PS you don’t have to be passionate about eeeverything you are doing.
At the same time being talented in something does NOT mean that it will grow to become your passion for sure. You still have to go through hardship to grow it, but again; having that slight edge of talent increases the probability of that activity growing into a passion.
There will be no Eureka moment
It won’t be smooth sailing. You have to pass through hardship to grow that interest into a passion. It won’t happen in a day and there won’t be a light bulb moment in which you have the epiphany of finding your long lost passion. It is usually a long rollercoaster ride.
What we are passionate about changes over time.
Just like our interests change, the same thing happens with things we are passionate about because a passion is an interest but 1000 times stronger.
Some passions die out, some degrade to just being an interest and others pass the test of time. The fluidity of passions is a natural consiquence of us being fluid as humans. Just like we evolve, our passions evolve with us.
Passions are alive. We are NOT born with them.
You probably don’t have to have a single passion
Very few people do.
Having one passion is on the one hand great, because it allows us to focus all our energy and love on that one thing. We can then go on to become one of the top 5% at that one thing.
But on the other hand, having one passion is dangerous because you can hang your sense of identity on this one thing and you know what they say: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In fact having many passions and combining them leads to a result great the than the sum of the parts (1+1=3). Like writing🖊️ + knitting🧶, videography📹 + history📜, coding⌨️ + marketing✨.
Do we focus on depth(1 passion) or breadth(many passions)? We ought to use our curiosity as a compass and wherever it takes us, it takes us. But always we have to try to balance healthy detachment with electrifying attachment.
The line with addiction is very thin
To be passionate about something is the relentless pursuit of it no matter the consequences.
If the outcomes of that ‘something’ are overly negative, we tend to call that an addiction or obsession.
If the outcomes of that ‘something’ are overly positive, we call is a passion.
But fundamentally they are very similar behaviours.
Keep your finger on the pulse
You need to continuously be fine-tuning your passion.
Is this an unhealthy obsession or an enriching passion?
Are you burning yourself out or being too relaxed?
Are you doing it for the applause(extrinsic) or for your need of self expression(intrinsic)?
Are you letting this be the one and only thing consuming your thoughts or are you balancing it with other things? What are the ‘right’ balances?
You and only you are the one to judge. Not society, not your family, not your friends.
Intrinsic Motivation & Passion
A true passion is something that starts by being fuelled by intrinsic motivation. You do it for you, not for the applause, validation or acceptance of anybody else external.
Of course there is still pleasure with sharing ur passion with the world! This is often what makes it meaningful. Sharing your gift, your art and your knowledge. But one needs to make sure you balance that extrinsic motivation (for sharinig) with intrinsic drives.
You have to be doing it for the craft of it, the love of it. Otherwise when the applause, the likes and the recognition stop, your ‘passion’ might die down. And that is not true passion.
Hardship & Suffering
‘passion’: The word’s origins stem from πάθος which initally was used to describe suffering. Today ‘passion’ is a word with a positive connotation but its origins make absolute sense if you think about it... Our passions are things we love so much that we think they are worth suffering for.
[Man] is much more concerned to have enjoyable memories and expectations — especially the latter. With these assured, he can put up with an extremely miserable present. — Alan Watts
Hardship doesn’t end when you have passion; it is exactly when it starts ramping up. Having passion doesn’t imply that you will have a smooth ride. nor that you will be jumping out of bed every day.
You will fall and be tired, bored, disappointed and sometimes you will resent it. But if it really is a passion, the suffering is worth it.
Work is the fuel of passion
Success or failure. Highs or lows. Always get back to the work.
Passions need to be nourished to grow and flourish .You have to add fuel to keep the fire alive.
Fuel comes in the form of deliberate focused work. One might call this, being in flow. There can be no flow without challenge or risk of failure. It can be painful but if you can push through the negative feelings, there is nothing but positive ones on the other side of the pain.
Passion starts as a general theme and with time it matures into a more and more focused niche passion. For example a passion in cars could evolve into a passion for restoration of old vintage vehicles from the 60s🚗 or a passion for cooking could evolve into a passion for gourmet vegan doughnuts🍩 You never know where you curiosity might take you. And that is part of the fun!
Don’t overthink this. Don’t expect you will find your niche from day one. Start broad and drill down in the exact same approach that you found your passion in the first place: by trying things out; by being driven by curiosity.