“My biggest barrier to following my passion is that I don’t know what my passion is!”
Sound familiar? If you are reading this then I imagine you can relate to this thought. It feels big and important and, for some people, it is a very real barrier to them moving towards creating a life that they really want. If you’re someone who is not inspired by what you’re doing at the moment, and you are not doing anything to change that because you don’t know what you really want, then this article is for you.
I write this from a place of having got clear on this for myself and started making it happen, and from working with others to help them get clear and start taking action. When you don’t know what it feels like to know what you want to do it can be overwhelming. It feels so big and so formless that we tend to store it away in that “too big to think about right now” part of our mind. The “what I’m doing now isn’t that bad so I’ll stick with it and see what happens” mentality wins over and we continue on. Uninspired and bored but not feeling the pain enough to do something about it. Until it rears it’s head again, maybe in a particularly low moment after a bad day or in a sudden realisation that a future doing more of this for 10 years looks pretty bleak. Are you really resigned to continuing to do something you don’t care about?
My intention in this article is to share some of the thinking that has made a big difference to me and to others I’ve worked with, and to provide you with some actionable steps if you want to do something about it. Here goes:
1. Who says there is one thing that is “the” thing?
The presupposition in my original statement is that there is one thing to find. “When I find my passion, then I’ll be happy! I just need to find my passion though.” The fact that we come at it as if there is one thing means it can feel much harder to find. It’s the metaphorical needle in the haystack problem.
Some people know exactly what they want and good on them. Most don’t. I was 32 before I had the faintest idea of what I wanted to do and even then it was just a glimpse. The fact is, there are a million and one ways to live and to make money in this world. The possibilities are almost endless and it has never been easier to start something. The days of 40 year careers in a single company are over. Many people change career multiple times during their lives and lots of people have multiple projects on the go at any one time. Many, many people are making a living doing something they love right now, and it all started with the belief that it was possible.
When you start from the perspective that there are numerous ways that you could be making this happen for yourself, then you already have options.
This was a game-changer for me. When I stopped focussing on my limitations and started getting curious about how things could be, things started to get really interesting. I went from having no ideas to having loads of ideas, and I began to spot opportunities. This gave me something to work towards and start taking action.
Action: Open to the possibility that there many ways that you can make a living doing something you love. The fact that you haven’t found what they are yet does not mean it’s not possible for you to find them. Accept the fact that it’s possible for you, and watch the ideas start to come to you.
2. Getting clear on your values makes taking action much easier.
This is a separate article in itself and I will write more on this. My experience is that many people are coasting along without being clear on what is important to them. This results in getting stuck in careers that they don’t care about but are getting too well paid to consider leaving. Business owners who followed their dreams get sucked into working in their businesses rather than on their businesses and neglect to spend time doing what they really want to do. Often this is the very reason they got into business for themselves in the first place but it gets lost in the never ending to do list. Burnout and frustration aren’t far behind.
Why does being clear on what is important to you make such a massive difference? Well, when you have opened to the possibility that there are lots of options for you, then you will start to see lots of possibilities. And that in itself can be overwhelming. Where to focus your energies? Should I focus on starting a career in writing or focus on the internet business idea I’ve got?
Getting clear on what is important to you takes things off the table.
For example, if you know that working for a manufacturer that produces plastic waste, working in an office or spending 8+ hours a day in front of a computer are things you will not do then you don’t even have to consider them. Likewise, if you know that making a positive impact, working with kids or working in a team environment are things that are important to you, then being clear on this helps you to rule out some of the countless opportunities that will cross your path without a second thought. The list of options just got smaller, and that makes it easier to focus.
Someone I was working with a while back spent some time focussing on these questions. They realised that lifestyle was more important than income, and that working in an industry they were genuinely interested in was more important than working in something they didn’t really care about. As a result they left a 20+ year career, to work in something they are passionate about, and they moved city to a warmer climate so they could spend more time doing the things they loved outdoors and have a better work-life balance. Are they happy? You bet they are.
Action: Write down things that are a definite NO for you: things you would never spend your time doing, companies or industries you would never even consider working in, practices or problems you would never want to be involved in or contribute to. Then forget about them. Take them off the list.
Do the same for things that are a definite YES: things that you really enjoy doing or would like to do more of. What would you love to spend more time doing? What’s the best thing about what you’re doing at the moment? What would you love to learn more about? This is where to focus.
3. Waiting for inspiration to appear is not a great strategy for generating new ideas.
Many people know they aren’t happy with what they are doing but hope that they will one day wake up and just know. They think that by continuing on the way they are, at some point they will experience a blinding flash of light and know, “Aha!, that’s it!” My experience is that it doesn’t work like that for most people. If you do the same as you always have done then you’re going to have the same patterns of thinking and get the same results.
Putting yourself out there and getting some new inputs will expose you to new ideas, new relationships, new possibilities, none of which will come to you when you’re spending time in the privacy of your own thoughts.
This was massive for me. I had been learning about the way the mind works for over a year before I had the idea to start helping other people with what I’d learnt. What started as a personal interest evolved over time and I began to see how I could use what I’d learnt to create value and make a positive impact in the world. I couldn’t have known that when I started the training course, the inspiration came much later on.
Action: Read a book, go to a meet-up group, do a course that you’re interested in, connect with someone who is already doing what you are interested in doing, do something that you haven’t done before. When you feed your mind you will begin to see new possibilities and places where you can add value.
Not knowing what you really want to do can feel like a massive barrier. But knowing you have options, being clear on what’s in and what’s out, and feeding your mind with inputs will help you to move past this. We live in a world full of possibility and there are people making it happen for themselves right now. If you’re serious about being one of those people then following these steps will help you to get unstuck and start making it happen. Go for it, what is there to lose?
Getting clear on what you want is insanely powerful, and can really help you to move forward. I work with people to help them get clear, make a plan and then take action. If you’re ready to take action then reach out to me, because if you want to make big changes, a little help can make a big difference. If you know someone who would benefit from reading this, please share.