What’s Your Passion?

PassionSo, in My Confession, I talked a bit about what it is I was born to do.  While I never said it specifically, it’s writing this blog.  That may seem like a small thing (and it is, in the Grand Scheme), but it fires me up.  Even thought I’ve only been doing it for a couple of months, I’ve been getting some great feedback, numbers are climbing as far as subscribers and visits go, and I’m more excited about what’s going on here than I’ve been in quite a long time about anything.  It’s becoming a passion of mine.

Anyway, in the comments of that post, John’s comment stood out.  I’ve felt the same way as he does in the past, and I know how frustrating and hopeless it leaves a person to not know what your passion is.  I’d been thinking I needed to write a post about how I went about finding my passion, because it was a tough process.  John’s comment was just confirmation that there was a need out there that I could chime in and meet (with what worked for me, anyway).

I’m a little bit hesitant to share, though.  It’s not that the process itself is like the Colonel’s Secret Recipe or anything; it’s just that finding a passion isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.  I don’t know if what worked for me will work for you.  I guess we’ll find out.

The first thing you need to do is get some time to yourself, where you can just be, without any interruptions.  This in itself is tough.  Do this somewhere you’re not going to have access to the internet, or Twitter, or a ringing cell phone, or anything else that will vie for your attention.  You’ll need to be totally focused on this task.  All you need is a pen or pencil, and something to write on.  I did it in my journal, because I wanted to keep it with me.  You can do that as well, or use a legal pad, or whatever is available to you.  It is, however, crucial that you have something to write on.  You can’t do this in your head.

You’re going to be making two lists on these pieces of paper.  The first will be all the things you like.  Not necessarily love, or can’t live without (those will go on the list, of course), but just stuff you like.  Topics can range from “my wife” to “baseball” to “pizza” to “Siamese cats” to whatever else you like (note: I like three of these four things.  A fun game is trying to guess which one I don’t like).  Seriously, everything goes on the list.

Secondly, you make a list of things that you’re good at.  This can include things that you don’t necessarily enjoy.  For example, I’m a pretty good financial analyst.  I’ve been doing it as a job for awhile, and the feedback that I’ve received on my work has always been positive to the point where I’ve been embarassed at times.  Do I like being a financial analyst?  Nope.  It bores me to tears.  However, I’m good at it, so it went on the list.

The next part of the process can be graphically represented by a Venn diagram, seen below:

Sorry for the bad MS Paint...

You take the two lists you have and put them side-by-side.  Take the first item from your “What You Like” list, and start applying it to each item on your “What You’re Good At” list.  Think about the various ways you can combine “pizza” and “financial analysis”, for example.  Really let your mind wander and start throwing out all kinds of ideas (write these down, too).  Once you’ve exhausted all the entries on your ‘What You’re Good At” list with the first entry on the “What You Like” list, go back to the top and do the same process with the second entry.  Keep going through this until you’ve made it all the way through your “What You Like” list.

At this juncture, you should have a significant number of (potentially crazy) ideas that you need to start testing out.  In my case, I matched up “reading about personal development and leadership” on my “What You Like” list with “writing” from my “What You’re Good At” list.  I’d tried to write blogs before, and had even thought about writing about personal development and leadership before.  I’d never given it much of a shot, however, because I thought the personal development blog arena was already too crowded.

What really caused the breakthrough this time was I got over what I thought would “fit in the marketplace” and started doing what I wanted to do just because it was what I wanted to do.  A passion should be done for its own sake, and not because you think someone else will like it.

In my opinion, tweaking your passion in order to make it more palatable to other people is like changing who you are to make an image fit for public consumption.  That’s not going to work.  You will find your right people if you keep on being who you are, genuinely deep down inside.  If you change who you are or what you like to fit what you think others want, you’ll have one of two problems.  Either you’ll come off as phony and no one will like it anyway, or you’ll get people to fall in love with something that isn’t genuine, and you’ll never be able to keep up the pretense forever.  Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster as far as doing your passion is concerned.

So, it’s entirely possible that there will never be enough people who like me to get me ranked in the Technorati top 100.  That’s fine, quite honestly.  I’m not interested in having a self-development blog where all I do is write posts about the top 20 ways to do this, or the top 50 hacks for being whatever, in order to get on Digg’s frontpage.  That’s really not something that I’m interested in.  I’m just going to keep on with my passion, dumping exactly who I am on this page, and seeing who’s interested in reading it.  If I’m true to myself in at least one arena, I can put up with doing something else to earn money.  I’d encourage all of you to reach the same level of comfort with who you are, too.

Take some time to do my exercise (or something like it) and let me know in the comments what you came up with.  If you’ve got more questions, or would like clarification, let me know about that, too.  Good luck!

If you’d like, you can run through this exercise and post some thoughts on it here in the comments.  What’s your passion?

Photo courtesy: PinkMoose

9 thoughts on “What’s Your Passion?”

  1. I’m one of the “lucky” ones to have a great job doing what I love. As with any opportunity, there are benefits and disadvantages but I think happiness comes from making peace with the situation. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. It seems to me that many people are unhappy because they look for the “perfect” job, mate, etc; or they strive without clear ideas of what success looks like and how much is enough.

    Thanks for the great blog!

    1. I heard a saying one time: “Wherever you go, there you are”. I’m not sure if I took the intended meaning from it, but I think it’s about exactly what you said in your comment, Victoria. Being at peace in your situation, whatever that situation is, is a key to a healthy life. And, you can even be that way if you’re trying to change the situation you’re in. Patience is a virtue for a reason. Thanks for commenting!

  2. I like how simply the Venn diagram works! My process was soooo random, probably why it took 25 years of undirected exploration to find it. Then I got fired, sorry, I resigned. I love how Life works.

    Peace.
    @vinylart

  3. Good job again Jason, and Daniel too. I love my job, the only problem with it is that there isn’t really enough work to support me this year. The funny part is I started going to auctions to try and buy stuff to resale at a profit. While figuring out how to market the items can often be frustrating, I discovered I love doing this! Sometimes I make a profit, at others I take a loss. The part I really like about it is my small contribution to shoppers. Everything I list on Amazon I ALWAYS make sure I have the lowest price. The funny part is I only have a few of whatever I’m selling and could care less about the profit (or even the loss…..lol) so I’m constantly getting these other sellers to lower their prices. And I enjoy discovering how in tune I am with what people might want. I laugh at myself when I buy things that NOBODY wants and refer to those times as, “paying the ignorance tax”. My take on it is that I’m having fun. If I break even or even make a profit so much the better! Better to be my own boss and lose my fanny, than punch a clock somewhere and be miserable doing it. Your point and mine is the same: as long as you earn enough to survive, it’s got to be better to be having as much fun as you can while doing it.

  4. Well…interesting discussion. Here's my take:

    If I have to find something that I like AND I'm also good at, I'll be awhile in the process. Not that that's all bad, but a person's only got so much time as you know. I've got plenty of things I like and maybe a few of those are things I'm good at. Finding the elements that make up passion PLUS making those elements marketable is key in my opinion. Very few of my likes are marketable to the point that the financial results are sufficient for me to pursue them with passion. What a sad commentary, you may say, to place a $ sign on your passion. Perhaps so, but for those who have others depending on them, there are higher priorities than just "finding your own star", having fun or not being miserable. Taking responsibility can be extremely rewarding even if the process is less than scintillating.

    Granted, there are those who can couple likes/loves & abilities/talents to equal marketable re$ult$. To them I sincerely say, "Good for You!" That is a truly awesome thing! However, until I find my way there (and yes, I'm still searching as well), I will be satisfied knowing that I'm doing what I'm called to do – being productive.

    1. It's interesting that you bring this up, DilBert. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting your comment (forgive me if I am), but I'm curious to know why you feel you can't pursue likes with a passion unless there's a financial incentive. This blog, for instance, is something that I do in my free time. I'm not compensated in any way, but it provides an outlet for aspects of my personality that can't be fully (or even remotely) expressed in my daily work as a financial analyst. It allows me to achieve a balance that I need.

      I will agree with your premise that there are higher priorities in life than simply not doing anything you don't find rewarding in and of itself. That's such a key thought that we need to focus on, and I've got a post scheduled that deals a little bit with that issue. Thanks for bringing that to the forefront!

      1. Sure, I can explain…at least I think I can.

        Pursuing my "likes" with passion requires ENERGY. And that energy cannot be exercised in short spurts. Sufficient TIME has to be mixed with that energy in order to bring power to the passion experience. "Free time" is not something that I have an abundance of, considering other obligations outside of my business life. Now the truth is, I could probably mange my time better than I do thereby producing some extra free time with which to pursue my likes passionately.

        Alas, I'm discovering more things that need improvement as I endeavor to Start Being My Best. Thanks for your input!

        1. Yeah, I had a ton of bad habits and time wasters (still do, actually). I'll agree with you 100% on that. Working with passion does take a lot of energy. Thanks for coming back and clarifying!

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