What is Your Passion? Read this article for guidance on how to find it!
Life is about choices. It is about making decisions that help you connect with your passion and your purpose. It is about helping others through which you ultimately help yourself and find real contentment. It’s about living – feeling alive every day. It is about Experiencing your Life as you go through your time on this planet.
The challenge is most of us struggle to find our passion and purpose.
We go through life in a cyclical set of steps, especially in our working lives, in what becomes a robotic lifestyle in a few years. We forget we are on this planet for a reason. We lose touch of the things that put a smile on our faces. We become the ‘second or third best’ version of ourselves and hence are not as much fun to be around. Our ever positive energy starts to show that hint of negativity that we so stayed away from all our lives. At that junction, there are two choices (1) Stay the status quo (which quite frankly doesn’t end up that great!) or (2) DIG IN and find your passion whether it is in your work, travel, volunteering or another dimension of life.
I went through all of the steps above to find my passion which quite simply put is to “empower people to change lives”. It is to start a chain reaction that is bigger than me or any one person. It is put smiles on peoples faces by connecting them with employment that matters to them, or connect them with travel experiences that are real. It is to be the shoulder that people can stand on to see farther then they ever thought possible. Over the last decade, I have worked with many incredible people to help them connect with their passion – here are some points that talk about the ‘process’ of finding your passion rather then the end destination. It may help you on your journey as it helped me in finding mine.
- Trust yourself. Your Role Model is YOU! Often when we seek inspiration, it is external. We go to YouTube! We talk to people. We read books. While all of those are good channels – the biggest channel we miss is inward reflection to appreciate all the obstacles we have already overcome. To appreciate the battles, we have won. The strength it took to persevere when life threw a curve ball in the past. The sheer determination it took to overcome obstacles to stand where you stand today. You my friends are awesome – believe it! Be proud of your PAST accomplishments and you will find inspiration and courage to go through the next ones. Baba Bhulle Shah (A philosopher and thinker from the sub continent) summarized this point eloquently in “You have sought knowledge in a thousand books but have not yet found the treasure that lies within you”
- Positive Thoughts and People. Every time I have had this conversation, it takes several sessions with the person to really come close to understanding their real passion. As you get closer to the topic, the self-doubts increase. All the caveats around ‘Oh – I could never do this but in a perfect I would like to … “ the caveats takes away from the positive momentum. You are doubting yourself. Silence the inner voice that never let’s dreams escape from deep inside so they could convert into action. Surround yourself with those that believe in you. That will encourage you. Discuss this with only those that instead of shooting your ideas down will support you with ‘executing them’. The best friend is one who is committed to your success, will give you both the pros AND the cons of your ideas but will be there to help you to execute them.
- Time is your only constraint. People go through years struggling through finding their passion and each day they continue their cyclic set of steps that they no longer enjoy. They give this question a few minutes of thoughts maybe in a week or a month but suffer the effects of not connecting with their passion every day. Well – my friends – time is your only real constraint. You have less of it today then you did yesterday and you have more of it today then you will tomorrow. By not deciding, you are deciding to continue status quo. This perspective, this way of thinking, helped me to start looking deeper for that passion I knew was out there somewhere.
- Take Action! This is by far, the most important point. Act. Many dream. Few act. The difference between a dream and success is action. As I wrote recently when I made a huge life decision to commit fully to my project to empower people (Experience Your Life), the last thought in my mind before the decision was “The biggest risk in life is not giving your dreams a shot. There is never a perfect time to follow your dreams but today is ‘perfect enough’ to start”.
- Find Work that Empowers. This is probably one of the biggest lesson in my life and one that I have always encouraged my mentees. How are you going to PAY for following your passion? I met at lot of people on the road in my journey across 65 countries and they are amazing free spirits but are struggling for every dollar. They are embracing the freedom of travel but are putting themselves in a position that is unsustainable. I want good people to join incredible organizations or create social entrepreneurship business that empower themselves, their workplaces and other people. In my 17 year consulting career, I reviewed over 2500 resumes personally and was involved in hiring over 400 people – I can assure it is possible. If you have a passion for technology and for empowering student, have your considered a career as a technology consultant at a large technology firm? If you love the outdoors, have you considered a career with Ministry of Natural Resources Forest Fire? If you love travel, have your considered a career as a consultant for a global organization? The point is to really plan how you will make money doing something you love! There are tons of careers available that will help you strike that balance and you always have social entrepreneurship as an option.
- Silence the FEAR Monster. Fear is the rust of the soul. It prevents you from acting. The instinct is to fear the worst-case scenario. Well – the worst-case scenario is not acting on your dreams. There – we settled that one! In my management consultant life, you learn how to remove risk from a project by having a risk mitigation strategy. If you are going for a major transition in life, plan the reserves for several months so you can survive if it doesn’t work out. Put a mitigation strategy in place and it will help you. The important point through is that after all is said and done – it will be a risk but by not acting, you lose already
- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Plan to transition into a career of your passion. Like any good project plan, you put milestone in your transition plan, attach a risk mitigation strategy but ultimately think through how you want to execute. All may not go as planned. By having a plan, with objectives and milestones, you break this huge decision into a set of manageable tasks and it will certainly help with the nervous butterflies in the stomach
- Don’t internalize failure. Set backs are a part of following your dreams. Things will not go as planned. I had my fair share as I started to transform life into something that was closer to my passion. Don’t internalize failure as it will create a chain reaction in your mind that will prevent you from moving forward. Take a moment, assess the situation and look at the real impact of that setback. Often it is much less then what your mind has made it to be. Plan a alternate step/course of action and no matter what you do.. keep moving forward as that is how winning is done. On court, in battle and in life!
- Find your passion. Often advice like this pushes people towards a certain version of success. My take is that only you can determine success for yourself. The steps above will help you execute it. Make it real. To find out what your passion is, I recommend internal reflection. What put’s a smile on your face. What really matters to you after all the other stuff has come and gone. If you look back on your last year, what are the moments that shine like brilliant stars in your life. Usually – they are a great clue !
- Make a DECISION. This is the most important point. DECIDE. I meet a lot of incredible people, in the millennial generation especially, that are perfectly comfortable saying I have no idea what my passion or career path is. The challenge is that when I meet them a few years later, they are in the same state. By not deciding, you are making a decision already. You are moving forward in some direction as time goes by – it makes sense to make that direction intentional and your own. Connect with your passion through reflection – you may change as a person in the future and your passion may chance too. That is OK. But figure out your direction to today so you are working towards something that is cumulative. Do not be complacent. Do not sell your life short by not deciding. You are meant to do great thing and the first step of having an impact is committing to your objective. Only you can do that and no one else.
All the best in your journey. Life is after all a continuous journey of self improvement. You get one shot at LIFE – make it count by following your dreams and making a difference. I wish you the best!
P.s. On a side note, I am doing a little project to capture a 30 second clip of awesome people I am meeting during my world travels. I ask them two questions (1) “What is your passion” (2) “How do you say Experience Your Life in your language”. The results are incredible so far. Hopefully the project will be complete by the Experience Your Life Expo on 17th September. You can follow it at www.sultanakif.com and the attached social handlers