Passion is a buzzword of the past decade.
For the past 10 years, I felt pressured to know exactly what my passion was, or even if I had one.
It was amplified by social media, where most people (myself included) share the highlight reel of their lives, making it look like they know exactly what they are doing, and have been passionate about it since they were born.
After chatting with a friend who shared a similar concern, I knew there are many people out there struggling with feeling passionless and, as a result, not intentional about their precious time. Here are some things we had in common:
>> We felt neither super creative, nor very analytical.
>> We considered ourselves generalists; while we could support any conversation, we didn’t see ourselves as experts in anything in particular.
>> We didn’t have any hobbies, while a lot of people around us seemed to have them.
>> We knew how to play a few sports on a basic level, but never mastered one.
>> We were filling our free time with useless tasks just to feel busy.
I decided to do some soul searching and deconstruct passion in a way that could take some pressure off, and discovered that, as big as it sounds, passion is just where our energy goes with ease. But because I was so immersed in my routine, I was missing the obvious clues coming from my curiosities.
Here are some low-pressure tools that I used to understand what I am curious about, with some discoveries I made along the way:
1. Childhood gold mine.
I went back to my childhood, looking at all the good stuff hidden in the times I was careless and had the ability to dream big.
Key learning: There is a reason our brain saves certain memories and episodes in its archive, and paying attention to those can reveal a lot about our natural talents and passions. Were you a master negotiator? Or someone who liked organizing other kids? Did you enjoy drawing? Or dancing? Or telling stories? Chances are, you are still enjoying the same things and have the potential to do them really well. These skills are just laying dormant, waiting to be awakened.
2. Asking friends.
I sent an email to seven friends, asking them what they think I am naturally good at.
Key learning: What is not a big deal to you will look like super-talents to your close friends. You will be blown away by your blind spots after seeing identical answers coming from different people. Below are some questions that I sent to my friends, taken from What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles:
>> What do you think I am most passionate about? Why? What in your opinion are two or three of my biggest passions?
>> What do you think are my biggest natural strengths and talents and why?
>> What have you always thought I’d be great at doing as a career, volunteer, or hobby?
>> Assuming you didn’t know me personally, what talent, skill, or passion would you pay me to teach or help you with? Why?
3. Following the clues.
I started paying attention to where most of my energy and time went outside of work and saw that I was spending at least four hours every single day listening to self-development podcasts, reading motivational books, and discussing my discoveries with friends. I didn’t force myself to do it; it was happening so naturally and with so much ease. Yet, I wasn’t recognizing it as something I was passionate about.
Key learning: Even aimless scrolling through Instagram can reveal a lot about your interests. Start by paying attention to your curiosities by noticing what content interests you. Do you like discovering new recipes? Fitness routines? Funny memes? Fashion trends? These are all great clues. You just need to be mindful and intentional about seeing them.
Once I admitted to myself that I was passionate about self-development and I decided to claim it, the real magic happened. I started seeking more clarity and taking action, which was the big missing piece of the puzzle. I took my curiosity to the next level by enrolling in a life coach training and practicing the tools I was learning with other women who felt stuck. I started experiencing a sense of purpose and meaning, and there is nothing more fulfilling to me today.
Passion-discovery is not a straightforward process and might feel intimidating. That’s why it’s best to reframe it as curiosity-seeking. I learned that patiently following curiosity is what results in life-changing findings.
I now know that there is a reason we gravitate toward certain things, and we have everything it takes within us to turn this internal pull into an exciting force that fuels us and gives meaning to our everyday life.