Can't find your passion? Stop searching for it.
Your career is no longer fulfilling and you’re ready for something new. You’ve made the decision to leave your job (Yay!) Your excitement builds at the thought of making a change and finally doing something you really enjoy. Only, you begin to realize you’re not exactly sure what it is you want to do. You start to feel a little lost so you turn to the internet for answers. You’re met with a ton of advice telling you to “find your passion”.
The problem is that you don’t really know what you're passionate about.
The excitement you first felt starts to wane and then that pesky mind chatter begins.
“You will never figure out what your passion is”
“You don’t have a passion”
“Even if you try to find it, it’ll be a waste of your time”
Ugh. Sound familiar?
On the surface “find your passion” sounds like great advice but on closer inspection, it isn’t really that helpful.
Telling someone to find their passion leads them to believe there is one perfect career out there for them, they just have to go out and find it. But it’s hard to go and find something when you don’t know what you’re looking for. And, if you don’t find this one perfect career does that mean you’ll never be happy at work?
Putting pressure on yourself to go find your passion will only keep you stuck. So, what’s the alternative?
I’m glad you asked.
Nailing down which career path to pursue starts with getting to know yourself better. Here are a few ways to do that.
Your values are your compass
If you’ve been working in a job that’s not a good match with your career values, chances are you won’t be particularly happy.
Career values are what you believe to be desirable or even essential in your work. These can be things like flexibility of schedule, autonomy, travel, creativity, or stability.
When you focus on identifying what your career values are and what they mean to you, you can use these values as a reference point for your decision making about your career. You might find that there are a number of different careers that align with your values. That’s great! It means you’ll open yourself up to more career possibilities rather than trying to find that one needle in a haystack.
What are you interested in?
If it causes too much stress, drop the word passion altogether. Instead, focus on what you’re interested in. These are things that light you up. Don’t worry about whether they’ll turn into your next career or not. Just follow your curiosity and ask yourself why these things interest you. You might even find some patterns emerging. Try something new. You could discover there are things you enjoy that you didn’t even know you would, you might even become passionate about one or two of them.
Do you know your strengths?
Take some time to figure out what you’re good at but keep in mind that just because you’re good at something it doesn’t mean you like it. Try to focus on the things you’re good at and that make you feel energized (not drained). If you're feeling stuck you could ask for feedback from trusted friends or colleagues.
What’s holding you back?
A lack of confidence, letting others’ opinions infiltrate your thoughts, and negative self-talk can all play a role in holding you back from exploring your passion. Just being aware of the thoughts you’re having can be a valuable first step towards addressing them. You could even challenge your thoughts by asking yourself “Are these thoughts true?” “What’s the evidence?” “Is there a more positive thought that could replace the negative one?”
Lastly, keep in mind that your passion doesn’t need to be tied to a specific job title. There can be many different career paths that allow you to express your passion (or interests if you prefer). Getting to know yourself better will help you to reveal and develop your passion instead of having to search for it “out there.”