How to Find Your Passion?

If I were to ask Google the question of “how to find your passion“, I will receive around 29 million answers or pages, telling me more or less the same things. But how many of us can truly say that we have found our passion? Or rather, how many of us have been spending all of our time trying to find our passion, yet come up empty?

The world of positive thinking gives us a very optimistic delusion – They give examples of people being stuck in a rut, and after attending some high energy workshops or high cost consulting services, suddenly, wala! “I’ve found my passion!

The hard truth is this – they did not find their passion. They just discovered what they can do better to their capabilities – they expanded their vision; they leveraged their skills and network; they changed their mindset to a growth mindset from the previous limited one; they took control of what can be done and what should be done instead; they found where they can contribute, where they can give and they don’t give up.

And yes, it’s still onto ourselves, not others.

Sometimes we do find people who coined their success in life as having found their passion. But in the early phases of their life, they will not associate that to passion, simply because it is a very vague terminology or idea.

Many of us want to have a purposeful life, enough said. Yet a lot of us borrow that desire from the outside world instead of looking into ourselves. We believe the world out there is the one that holds the golden ticket to all of our happiness, our way to contribute, our way to living a purposeful life. This is visible in the current mindset trends of the millennials – Travel the world, don’t compromise for others, quit if it ain’t working, find the work you love so you won’t feel like working etc.

No doubt there is certain truth but those are not going to be the ones that will point you in the direction of finding your passion.

Passion First, Career Follows?

When I was in my early childhood days, I desire to be a lawyer. I enjoyed every attorney related shows. I love their witty comebacks, and I love how they manage to get justice served (Yes I love watching Suits). But I never became a lawyer, not even close. I can blame it on the education system, I can blame my financial capabilities from my family. But it was because I was never good at debating, and I never pushed myself to a point where I am great in debating.

Simply said, I gave up.

These days, the work-life balance is one of the most sourced requirements to determine if the company is a desired place to work. We all want that work-life balance. But now we demand it from the people who are giving us a job. If not, “sack your boss“, “greener pastures elsewhere“.

Cal Newport, in his book “//“>So Good They Can’t Ignore You” gave the 3 qualifiers that we should take note instead:

  1. Few opportunities to distinguish yourself, developing the skills that are rare and valuable
  2. Job focuses on something which is useless or perhaps bad for the world
  3. Job forces you to work with people you really dislike

I left my previous job because it satisfies all 3 of the above. What is your reason for leaving yours?

The delighting message is this: you can ignore all the 3 qualifiers if you have attained an unique or distinguished capability that very few people exhibit, or what Cal Newport calls it the “career capital“. This gives you the authority to demand for autonomy in pursuing more things in life that interest you, and that gives you something that you may have to encounter in future – the money talk.

The truth is, if you can’t fund your “passion“, it won’t be a passion after all. 

Tony Robbins, in his TedTalk in 2006 asked the crowd if they love surprises.

Yea!“, an uproaring reply.

Bullshit! You like the surprises you want!

We tend to like the things we enjoy doing. For those that are hard, for those that are not so cool or not desirable, “nay… next time.” But that’s the distinguishing factor to those who truly found their passion, those who can say they found the job they love. Because they embraced the undesirable, the constant hard work, the workouts that make them sore for days, the hard talks that no one wants to be involved with, the impression of being pushy, the dirty work, the days of being alone, the courage to be different.

Mark Manson mentioned in his blog that we tend to be really bad at predicting what will make us happy/miserable in the future. And this carries the same notion to finding your passion.

Instead, ask yourself these questions:

What are my strengths?

What can I best contribute in, and how can I do that?

What can I learn or what must I learn to improve my contributions?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs have evolved since it was first released. Self-actualisation, in terms of personal growth and fulfilment, was the previous highest attainment in the hierarchy. Now the idea of transcendence, helping others fulfil their actualisation, has sat at the top of the pyramid. I believe everyone wants to be in a position to be able to help others, because that’s our core. Those who were able to do that, find themselves much associated with the idea of having found their passion.

Kevin Spacey, one of my most admired actor, said this:

If you are lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down

And I believe that’s where most of us will find our passion, one that allows us to contribute and serve, one that makes us continuously improve ourselves, to grow with the intention to serve.

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