When I was a senior in college, I asked myself this question and couldn’t come up with an answer. So I applied to 5 different type of jobs and chose the one that gave me the most skills to do whatever I want afterwards – a McKinsey Analyst. I have since asked myself this question every 2 years and only now, 15 years later, do I have a clearer picture of one of my passion – helping people with their careers through my career advice blog.
In this article, I want to share with you what 3 common mental obstacles we encounter when trying to find our passion, one exercise you can do to overcome these mental obstacles, and 3 questions you can ask yourself to find your passion.
How to Find Your Passion – 3 Common Mental Obstacles
- Feeling too Responsible – Usually this comes in terms of financial responsibilities to pay rent/mortgage, car, kids’ education. Sometime, pursuing our passion requires some financial sacrifice initially and many of us can’t even acknowledge what our passion is without considering the financial responsibilities we have on our shoulders.
- Fear – what if I can’t do it? We dismiss passions we may have for painting, or starting a new business immediately because we are worried about failure.
- What Others Think – Whether we admit or not, what others people think of our career move matter way too much in our lives.
How to Find Your Passion – Do This Exercise
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
- I wish I didn’t work so hard
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
- I wish that I had let myself be happier
Reading this prompted me to come up with this exercise on how to find your passion. In our 20s, 30s, 40, even 50s, we rarely think about dying. It’s morbid and depressing. However, knowing you will die soon also give you clarity and can quickly help you break down the mental obstacles (crap) you hold in your logical mind. So to do this exercise, allocate an hour somewhere in your house or a cafe and imagine what if you are told you have just one more year or one more month to live, then ask yourself these 3 questions in order to find your passion.
- As you face death, what is your biggest REGRET of what you didn’t do in life? This question overcome the fear mental obstacle. There is no bigger fear than death, so assuming you will die soon, what do you wish you would have tried to do in your life regardless of success or failure? This will give you some ideas about the passion you have been too afraid to try.
- If you had financial security already, what would you do for free? It doesn’t matter how much money you have and what fancy cars you drive, you cannot take any of it with you when you die. What you can take with you, as the article indicates, is the feeling that you allow yourself to be happy in your life and you were true to yourself. So setting aside financial responsibilities, what would make you happy? What do you want your legacy to be when you die? This question overcomes the responsibility mental obstacle and also gives you an indication of your passion
- As you face death, what one thing you wish you had done that you know others may disapprove of? By asking the question this way, you overcome the what other people think mental obstacle. Death makes us face reality about what we really want in life and how we really feel about things. The truth is people are usually too worried about their own lives to disapprove of any of your decision.
I leave you with the final sentence from “Five Regrets of the Dying” article – “Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”