Have you ever found yourself asking: What is my destiny? What do I want out of life? What will bring me the most happiness? If so, you’re already ahead of the game for finding your passion and purpose. You’re the type of person who wants to increase the quality of your life, live your dreams and make a significant difference in the world.
So many people are content to just go with the flow instead of taking action and expecting more out of life. They become complacent and accept a life of mediocrity. The difference between those people and ones who strive to live the best possible life, all comes down to standards. If you believe everyone has a special gift, talent or a bit of untapped genius waiting to be unleashed; you’ll do whatever it takes to discover yours and use it to its full potential. If you’re ready to live a more fulfilling, meaningful and happier life, this article will give you some guidance to help you find your passion and purpose.
1. Identify Your Interests
So many times we do things because of someone else’s expectations or because we’re doing whatever came along. This is how you lose sight of what you really want out of life. If you’ve ever had the experience of getting something you really wanted, only to be disappointed, underwhelmed or unhappy, then you understand what it’s like to work for something that isn’t a true passion. Instead of blindly going through life, find what really interests you.
Don’t go off old assumptions about what you like, instead begin with an open mind. Look at the books you’ve read, your hobbies and classes you’ve taken. Ask your closest friends what topics you bring up most during conversations. Also, take a look at your online activity, and take note of things you’ve bookmarked, shared or saved. For example, if you’ve saved several images of buildings from various cities, articles on architecture and video tutorials on taking the perfect picture; you clearly have an interest in urban photography and may not realize it.
After you’ve done a little detective work on yourself, think about what you would want if there were no obstacles in your way. If money, time, connections, education, age or any other obstacle were no longer an issue — what would you want? What career would you have? Where would you live? What kind of physical shape would you be in? What contributions would you make to the world? What kind of house? Relationship? Car? Don’t limit yourself. Remember, you have no obstacles. Make your dreams as big as you want them to be.
You will most likely find a connection between the things you spend the most time, energy and effort on are very similar to the things you would want if you had no obstacles. This is because our subconscious is drawn toward the things we desire most.
2. Create a Visual Aid
Once you have identified your interests, create a visual aid to organize your thoughts. This can be a group of pictures, videos or a list, whatever makes the most sense to you. Use this as a frame of reference. Remove the items that are lower in priority as you pinpoint your true passions.
3. Pinpoint Your Passion
Now that you have identified your interests, you need to pinpoint which ones you’re truly passionate about as opposed to the things you simply enjoy or think you should do. When you are truly passionate about something, you must do it no matter what. If something falls under the category of “want to do it” or “should do it”, it’s not a true passion.
Use your visual aid to help you pinpoint your passions. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you made a collage of pictures as your visual aid. Look at each picture. Visualize yourself doing whatever the picture represents. Really see yourself in the situation. How do you feel? What emotions does this invoke?
If you’re still unsure, do the following exercise to determine if you’re truly passionate about something or if it’s just an interest.
1. Think about a relationship where you have unbelievable love for a person as well as constantly craving each other intimately. Make the sound of what it feels like in your body when you have both love and passion. (This doesn’t have to be a When Harry Met Sally moment. A simple “yes” or “whoop” will do.)
2. Think about a relationship where there’s lots of love but not enough passion. Now make a sound to convey those emotions.
Although a relationship with love and not enough passion doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, a sound is a great way to calibrate what’s really going on in your nervous system. Now look at your visual aid again and make the sound of how you feel when you imagine yourself in each picture. If you’re truly passionate about something, the sound should be the same or similar to the first relationship example.
4. Check for Internal Conflicts
Everything you do is motivated by beliefs and values. Problems arise when our passions conflict with our beliefs and/or values. For example, you’re passionate about starting a business and turning it into a multimillion dollar corporation. However, you value spending lots of time with your family. That’s a major conflict. One of the biggest sacrifices powerful, wealthy, successful business people make is spending time with their families. You’ll have to make the decision to change your beliefs and values, or find a different passion and goal. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your energy focused on your internal mental battle and your passion will die.
5. Focus on Desired Results
Ask yourself what your desired outcome is. By targeting your focus on the results you desire, your purpose becomes easier to pinpoint. You will get rid of excuses and stop working toward things that don’t really matter. Most people mistake actions, movement and activities for achievement. Think about days when you are running around, busy and exhausted, but don’t accomplish very much. By placing more important on what you’re doing instead of your desired outcome, you forget your purpose.
For example, you’re passionate about helping needy children. So, you decide to start a foundation and raise money by hosting charity events. You put a great deal of energy and focus on organizing the most successful functions. It pays off and your foundation is a huge success. However, you begin to feel burn-out, resentful of your decision and guilty about your negative feelings.
What happened? You became more focused on what you were doing instead of why you were doing it. Your passion was to help needy children, not host charity events. Yet, the success of the events became your primary focus.
This is the time to make a decision to either quit or change your direction. You can delegate the job of running the events, pass the foundation to another person or find a new way to help the children. Perhaps you could travel to third-world countries and have a more hands-on approach. By remaining focused, or re-focusing, on your desired outcome you maintain your passion and purpose.
6. Know “Why”
It’s more important to know why you’re doing something than what you want or how you’re going to get it. Not only do you need to know why, but also have emotion behind it. When you forget why you’re doing something, you lose your motivation.
We all want our lives to have meaning, or to find our passion and purpose. Passion is what we want. Purpose is why we want it. Be honest with yourself about why you want something, and be specific about what you want the results to be. Change “ask and you shall receive” to — ask intelligently and you shall receive.