I was listening to a very interesting report on the radio the other day: I Know I’m Supposed To Follow My Passion. But What If I Don’t Have A Passion?
It’s a great question.
We’ve been conditioned for the last 20 years that “you can do anything you want.” How do people know what they want, especially early in life? Well, that’s where this concept of “passion” came to the forefront.
I think that my grandfather would be absolutely mystified by the concept that a living can be created out of what you enjoy. For him, work was not play, and play was not work. This is a modern invention, and it’s not proven that it works for everyone.
There’s some deep truth behind the idea of “passion.” When you get enjoyment from something, when you see a purpose for it, you’ll stick through the hard parts and keep your dedication up. If you hate your job and it’s just giving you a minimum of income, you’re not going to be dedicated. You’ll look for an escape route.
But if you’re going to get really really good at something, to the point where you find it deeply enjoyable, you have to keep going through the learning curve. That will take years or even decades.
So back to the great question. What do you do when you can’t find anything that seems to be a “passion” for you?
The method that worked for me was to create these lists:
- What I’m good at
- What I enjoy
- What makes me ineffective and frustrated
- What assets I have to work with
I decided to spend a month creating each list, because I had time to consider a career change. But I’ve worked with clients who were in a rush and did all this in a week. A very introspective week, of course.
The result of this isn’t a magically clear answer, although that does sometimes happen. Instead, it gives you a set of criteria against which to judge your choices.
Suppose that I have some experience doing manual labor, and I’m considering a career in social services. With my past work, I haven’t done much in serving others … but maybe I have. There’s that summer job 3 years ago – I hated the manager, but I really enjoyed the customer contact. I found it easy and natural to be helpful.
I don’t like supervisors who are overly demanding micro-managers. But that’s going to depend very much on which organization I’d work for. And I recognize that I have some work to do here, too, because I can be a bit of a complainer.
What assets do I have? Well, I did that volunteer work through my church. And my uncle worked for Peace Corps when he was younger, that sounded really cool. Maybe he could introduce me to someone so I could find out more?
So what do you do when you haven’t found your passion? Well, it’s a mixture between exploration and creation. Both of them require energy and investment, and a lot of work.
You can start with the above lists, which will get you further than just waiting for the spontaneous flash of insight.