Do what you love!
It’s something we hear people say all the time. But sometimes, unearthing our passions isn’t so easy. I wish I could say it was as simple as taking one of those career tests. Or as declaring a major in college. While those activities are certainly helpful, finding your passion is more complicated.
There’s no one secret, but there are a few key guidelines you can follow to help find yours:
Finding your passion isn’t a one-time event. Sure, some people remain on a single path for their whole career. But most people get started with one path, only to find it evolving into something else. This may seem ambiguous, but it’s also what brings spice to your professional life. So don’t be afraid to let your current passion grow and morph as you gain more experiences and learn about yourself.
Finding your passion is an active process. Can you ever really learn how to bake a cake if you never try to just bake one? The same thing applies when you’re learning about yourself. You can spend years reading articles. But until you actively pursue something you think you’d enjoy, you’ll never know for certain. If you love animals and think being a veterinarian is your passion, volunteer at the Humane Society or ask to shadow a veterinarian. You may discover it’s not for you, but that’s the point! At least you’ll know, and you’ll be one step closer to finding a better fit.
You can never have too many mentors. How can you learn what the day-to-day life of an artist is? Find one! Connect with someone who’s doing the work that interests you, and ask questions. You’ll get the inside-scoop and make a valuable connection that could help you gain some hands-on experience.
Pay attention to the little things. Is there a particular blog you check every day? What’s your favorite movie? What class do you look forward to? Don’t underestimate these everyday signs. There are clues and themes hidden in our hobbies. Do you watch the Food Network religiously? Think about why you love it, and let that be your guide. Maybe it’s the way the shows are edited. Maybe it’s the actual cooking. Just pay attention, and all of a sudden your obsession with Cupcake Wars can tell you more about yourself than anything written on a piece of paper.
There’s no rush. Perhaps you have a best friend that’s known that she wanted to be a doctor since the age of five. Good for her. Don’t let that rush you. Everyone has their own timeline, and the important thing is to listen to yourself and the people you trust. Let yourself get sidetracked. That’s how you learn.
You can have passions that never become a career or job. Being passionate is about more than choosing a career path. Most people are passionate about many things that never translate into a day-to-day job, and that’s okay! It’s certainly great to be passionate about your work, but engage in as many passions you want. It makes life all the richer.
Want to hear from someone who successfully found her passion? Check out this video of Marilyn Halperin, the director of education and communication at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, as she talks with college students about her passion. (She found it through volunteering!)
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