R eady for a depressing statistic? Good! Me too. Here it is: The average worker spends somewhere between 10 and 14 years over the course of their lifetime at work. 1 Basically, around 20 to 25% of your waking adult life is spent working.
Spending so much time at our jobs, you would think that we’d try to pick careers that are at least somewhat fulfilling, or hell, even just bearable most of the time. But the sad reality is that over 80% of people hate their jobs, meaning that 80% of people hate a significant chunk of their lives pretty much all the time.
I know not everyone can just drop everything and go find their dream job right this second. And I’m definitely not saying that a fulfilling career is all fun and games 100% of the time. I’m doing what I love and I hate parts of it at times. That’s just a fact of life.
But given that we spend so much of our waking lives working, we should strive to make the most of it and find a career that, at the very least, doesn’t make us miserable most of the time.
Don’t Make Money Your Primary Consideration
If money were no object, what would you do? Would you travel? Spend all of your time with your children? If you’re looking to spend your life doing something you love, the best way to start is to treat financial concerns as secondary. Of course, money can’t be ignored, but don’t let financial pressures dictate your choices if you can help it. Your career should ultimately lead to financial security, but if financial security is the defining motivator, it’s unlikely you’ll end up doing what you love. If you allow yourself to pursue your curiosity, you will eventually earn money on your terms.
Even though you may not have a clear vision for your career, you are probably curious about things that may or may not be obvious to you. It’s important to follow your curiosity and uncover your less obvious interests.
Carefully think about your own goals for your career. Consider what you value as an individual and a professional, and use these to guide your decision-making process. For example, if being of service to your community is important to you, you can remember that value when you are researching career paths. Try using an organizer such as a spreadsheet or to generate ideas and visualize your thinking.
According to The Reasons We Work by Shane Parrish, direct motivators—motives that tie directly to the work itself—typically bring out our best performance. The closer our reason for working is to our actual job, the more engaged we’ll be.
Pursuing your interests and motivators sets you on the right path to unlocking who you want to be. Frequently, these will be things that do not appear pragmatic and sometimes may seem downright frivolous. A classic example is Steve Jobs’ curiosity for typefaces which led him to attend what seemed to be a useless class on typography. Later, this class became an essential part of Apple computers in the marketplace.
How to Find Your Passion in 13 Steps (and Why It Matters)
One common piece of advice you may hear when looking for jobs is to “follow your passion.” To do that, it’s important to define what you’re passionate about. Evaluating the work, ideas, and projects that make you feel fulfilled and motivated can help lead you to jobs you can be successful in and enjoy. In this article, we discuss why finding your passion matters and how to find your passion in 13 steps.
Finding your passion is valuable because it can lead to a more enjoyable and fulfilling career. Whether you’re just thinking about your career or looking to change fields, it’s never too late or too early to discover your passions.
Identifying things in your life that make you feel satisfied, excited, motivated, or fulfilled is key to finding your passion. Translating that passion into a career happens by searching for opportunities and finding roles that appeal to your interests. Some people choose to pursue their passions during their free time outside of work, while others prefer to dedicate their day-to-day work life to their passions. The choice you make may depend on many factors, including:
How to find your passion
1. Look for highlights in your day
There might be a certain day of the week or time of the day you look forward to more than others. For example, it may be a specific meeting, task, or time you’ve set aside. You might also notice certain surprises or unexpected times that end up being the best part of your day. Pay attention to both seemingly significant and insignificant things that you consider as the peak of your day.
While many of these high points may happen during work, you may notice them occurring in the time you have for yourself, friends, or family. Noting where and with whom your best moments take place may bring you one step closer to knowing whether your passions relate to your career or other parts of your life.
2. Pay attention to what you spend your time and money on
People often focus their resources on things that are meaningful to them, including time and money. Look at your credit card bill or bank statements and see if there are any themes. Evaluate the topics of books, magazines, films, or podcasts you consume. Notice how you’re spending your free time and what activities bring you joy. In addition, recognize if there’s a particular genre, subject, or theme that your hobbies and interests have in common. The interests that have remained with you through the years may relate more to a passion rather than a newly emerged interest.
3. Think about topics you like to discuss with or teach others
Consider your interactions with others. Think about the types of conversations you enjoy or engage with the most. It might also be helpful to consider if there are any tasks or topics you often teach others about. These are often the things you find most important to you.
4. Examine the details
As you explore the things that naturally draw your attention in day-to-day life, consider what exactly about those things you’re passionate about. For example, you might find that the highlight of your day is volunteering as a teacher for adult night classes. Ask yourself, “What about doing this activity makes me happy?” Some of your answers might include:
Deeply exploring these factors may help you identify exactly what motivates you. When you understand what inspires you, you may find more specific job opportunities that involve your interests.
5. Think about your strengths
Consider your best abilities and personality traits. Identifying both your soft and hard skills can help determine things you’re not only good at, but things you may also find interesting. You may also have a natural skill that makes you feel confident and motivated when completing certain tasks.
6. Talk to others
Talk to other people about how they found their passion. If you know friends, family members, coworkers, or others in your network who’ve found their passion, ask them about what strategies or steps led them to find it. If you know this person well, you can also ask them what they perceive as your strengths, interests, or best qualities.
7. Explore career options
Explore various career options. Read through job descriptions or articles about how to pursue various careers. If you find a task or role that sounds interesting, research that position and related jobs further. With so many types of job positions available, it’s possible that you haven’t discovered the right one for you. Reviewing job descriptions might help you find roles best suited to your interests and skills. Reading about a certain task or responsibility that sounds interesting may also help you research related roles that might be an even better fit.
Consider talking to your current supervisor or manager about career options, too. If you enjoy some aspects of your current role or company but want to discover a better fit, your manager may help you learn about other career opportunities within your company. Your manager may also give you additional responsibilities that align more with your interests or strengths.
8. Examine your perspective
Consider your perspective toward finding your passion. Make sure that you have realistic expectations about what it means to find a fulfilling career. Additionally, be open and accepting of the idea that it’s possible to find your passion, even if it takes longer than expected.
9. Reflect on your childhood
Think about what activities or interests you enjoyed as a child. While you might have different interests or activities now, rediscovering the things that made you enthusiastic as a child can help you find joy in your new career. For example, if you enjoyed playing with model trains during your childhood, you might look into careers that involve the railroad, construction, or engineering.
10. Ask yourself hypotheticals
Ask yourself different hypothetical questions or scenarios. These can help you determine your most important values or interests. Consider asking yourself hypothetical questions such as:
Look at what you love
Look at your bookshelf, favorite movies or the last play you saw – is there a common theme? Think about your favorite summer job or the last time you got so caught up in a project, you completely lost track of time. Think about what you loved to do as a child – drawing, writing, dancing. So often, we give up our passions when we become adults because we think we have to grow into something we aren’t. This isn’t true. Tap into the activities and topics that used to fill you up when you were younger. Ask yourself: What could you talk about for 30 minutes with no prep time? What topics make other people think of you? What do you love teaching others? These are all hints about how to find your passion in life.
Your hobbies aren’t necessarily the same as your true passion, but they can provide a hint. If you spend a lot of your free time reading, your passion could involve writing, teaching or research – anything that feeds your mind the way reading does. If you enjoy fixing things around the house, your passion likely involves creating and building. If you enjoy dancing or exercising , you are probably drawn to movement and expression. Think deeper about your extracurriculars and you could uncover your passion.