Why Are You Here: Passions
Welcome to the third installment of the Why Are You Here series. If you’ve read the first two articles in the series then you already know that my goal is to encourage you to identify your purpose in life and to motivate you to aggressively pursue it. In the first article I introduced the topic and tried to generate a sense of need and urgency. In the second article we talked about the baggage that is weighing you down and pushing beyond it. The tone of the next two articles will be slightly different from the first two. While the first two were mainly concerned with generating a call to action the next two are more introspective and are geared towards helping you identify your passions and talents.
I’m afraid I don’t have any choice but to oversimplify things as a result of this medium. But in a nutshell we’re going to attempt to go through a 3 step process.
Step 1: Discover your passions
Step 2: Discover your talents
Step 3: Discover God’s will
After the first step we should have a relatively long list of things that you enjoy doing. In step two we’ll be filtering that list down by eliminating things that you enjoy but do not have a real talent for. That means that we’ll be starting step three with a good list of things that we like and that’s we’re good at. From that point we’ll be working to identify how they fit in with God’s will for your life. I might as well throw a disclaimer out here at this point for those that I’ve just alienated. The answer to your internal question is no. I do not have any idea what God’s specific will is for your life, and I’m not trying to pretend otherwise. However, the Bible gives us a pretty good idea of God’s will for humanity at a micro and macro level. That’s the filter that we’ll be using in step three.
I think that’s enough of an intro, let’s dig in to step one: discovering your passions. This is an unusual topic. It is one of the rare things that is extremely difficult even when there are so many ways to do it. I’m not going to pretend that it’s easy or fast. The process that I’m laying out will take weeks if you’re lucky and months if you are like the rest of us. Don’t fret. During that time you might find yourself moving slightly closer every day, or you may feel very little progress until BOOM, you have an epiphany and it hits you with such clarity that you wonder why you didn’t see it before. Either way, don’t let time dissuade you. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.
Over time I’ve come to the conclusion that your self-awareness is the key to discovering your passions. If you are able to be real with yourself and understand how events and situations impact you then you have a huge advantage when it comes to identifying your passions. I think that is why many methods for discovering your passion revolve around getting in touch with yourself.
That is your starting point for this endeavor. You want to develop a daily routine that helps you to clear your mind from the stress of the day and allows you to look at your day and life objectively. You’ll probably need to take a little “me” time to accomplish this. Maybe you prefer meditation, prayer, long walks, etc. It doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that you’ve de-stressed from your day and that you are talking with yourself in a healthy way on a regular basis. You may feel silly at first, but that’s ok. You’ve developing a framework for future success. You are learning to shed negativity and opening yourself up to a world where things are possible. From this starting point it is easier to see your life objectively and spot opportunities that might be hidden right underneath your nose.
Now that you’ve developed a good foundation it’s time to start a list. Pull out a sheet of paper or open a Word document and write down the things that you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be a specific job, in fact, it’s probably better that it isn’t. Also, don’t limit yourself to what is possible. I don’t care if you answer telephones for a living; if you are passionate about astronomy then it needs to be on the list. Lastly, it doesn’t have to be things that you are good at. Ok, get started.
It’s ok, I’ll wait….
Now, you may have a nice sized list, or there might only be one or two things on it. It’s ok. That’s why I said start a list. It is highly unlikely that you’ll be able to build a complete list on your first try. Let’s take a look at my own list as an example. In no particular order:
1. Rays Baseball
2. Understanding/figuring out why people do the things they do
3. Helping people by listening and/or giving advice
4. Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God
5. Leading people
6. Knowing things / Trivia
7. Improving myself
8. Being honorable/having integrity
10. Playing video games
11. Knowing myself
Are some of those things duplicative? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. You aren’t trying to do anything perfect here, all you want to do is begin a list that you’ll be adding passions to as you realize them, remember them or discover them. Keep your list somewhere accessible, you’ll want to update it in the coming days. In fact, I’ll bet you can come back to it in 5 minutes and think of 2 or three more things just like that. Remember, don’t limit yourself. If you love keeping a clean house, exercising, listening to music, talking to people, etc… then put it on the list.
But Jonathan isn’t this list going to get pretty big if I add everything?
I sure hope so. The bigger your list is then more likely you are to find the passion that is the backbone of your true purpose. Remember all that talk about self-awareness, if you go through all of the suggestions below and are still disappointed with the size of your list then you’ll want to do a self-check. Are you being open with yourself, letting negativity get in the way, not taking time to reflect? Keep working at it. As you push past those barriers you should see your list growing.
Beyond that, there are numerous ways to discover additional passions and add to your list. I’m going to list out a few ways below but don’t feel limited to what I come up with. Do a Google search; find out what other people say. You’re looking for inspiration, don’t be shy about it.
Suggestions to help you identify your passions
What did you want to be when you grow up?
Sure, it’s rudimentary, but it’s still a great starting place. I remember that I thought for sure that I wanted to be a veterinarian. I absolutely love animals… Hey, I love animals. I need to add that to my list of passions! See what I mean? It’s simple, but effective. Did you want to be in a band? Maybe you have a passion for music. Did you want to be a scientist? Maybe you have a passion for experimentation. How about an inventor? Perhaps you like working with your hands.
What excited you in the past?
Ok, let’s extend the thought beyond childhood. What about college? Perhaps you had a season in your life when you felt really strongly about something unusual. When I was in college I remember really enjoying TV production classes and directing broadcasts. Maybe it’s not a passion, but by remembering it I can make a decision on it. Did you go through an artistic phase? Maybe you used to fix computers, or cars for a hobby. Do you have a passion for electronics, mechanics, fixing things that are broken?
What do you love about what you do today?
What you like about your job today can tell you a lot about your passion. I love that my job has an open ended feel to it. I’m not restricted by what was done before. I should add freedom to think for myself to my list of passions. Maybe you work in customer service and you love talking to people but hate documenting it. You might be a department store sales person who loves helping people pick out outfits, but hates selling to them. It’s possible that you have a passion for fashion or design.
How do you like to spend your time?
What are your hobbies? A lot of my hobbies make an appearance on my list. Reading, trivia and baseball are all hobbies for me. What about you? Do you like organizing things? Are you a social butterfly? Do you like meeting a lot of new people? Maybe you love boating, or amusement parks. Don’t worry about whether or not it makes sense from a career perspective. If you love doing things, then think about what makes you love them and write it down as a passion.
Seek out new experiences
Maybe the last few suggestions have been a struggle for you. Maybe you don’t feel that you enjoy things strongly enough to call it a passion. It’s very possible that you are actually missing out on your passion. That means you’ve got a huge opportunity. I would strongly recommend trying to get out and do new things. Sign up for a class. Go somewhere you’ve never been. By building up a broader base of experiences you are widening your net and are more likely to realize you have a passion for something that you were previously unaware of.
Do you talk about it with people regularly?
What do you love to talk to people about? That’s how I realized that I had a passion for figuring out why people do the things they do. It turns out that I was constantly pointing things out to my wife about people’s motivations. I just love thinking about it and putting the pieces together. Do you like talking about ways to make money? Maybe you have an entrepreneurial spirit. Do you like talking about problems that you see, or ways people could do things better? Maybe you have a passion for process improvement.
What kind of things would you consider doing if you didn’t have to work for a living?
Interesting question isn’t it? I know I would volunteer somewhere, probably at my church or at an animal shelter. What about you? Would you open a surf shop? Give piano lessons? Tend your garden?
What would make you proud?
Maybe you would like how you would feel as a public servant, a fireman, policeman, military or politician. Think about the root of that feeling. Do you have a passion for being respected? Maybe you should be a teacher.
Meditate, quiet nature/beach walks, peaceful time alone, escape
Don’t rush yourself. Relax. Take the time you need to come to your conclusions peacefully. Maybe you need to take extra time to discover yourself. That’s great. If you realize this about yourself then you’re already making steps in the right direction.
Most of all, don’t give up. You may realize a new passion 2 months from now. Pull your list out and jot it down. You never know when you will have an epiphany. It could be something you think of in the future that clicks into place with your other ideas and skills and reveals your purpose.
In the meantime, come back and visit me in a couple of days for an article on running your passions through the filter of talent.
Until then, be blessed.
Identify your Passions