As you may know, over the past year and a half, I have been very focused on growing my consulting business, specifically as it relates to purposeful life coaching. I have recently completed several advanced trainings related to purpose, goal setting, and career aspirations, which have continued to help me support young adults in exploring career opportunities that align with their own values, purpose and talents. It has also made me realize that so many people are relying on discovering a personal 'passion' to help them decide where they want to go next or what they want to do with their life. Between my own experience and the training I have received from Dr. Rivera and the Transformation Academy, it has become very apparent to me that encouraging people to follow their passion is not actually all that helpful.
So why am I trying to resist the urge to tell people they should find a passion and follow it? In one word, I would say 'flawed'. Is it actually realistic for us to think that our passions are hidden and waiting for us to find them. How long might it take someone in their career to discover this mystic 'passion' that may change their life and the direction of their career? For some people, I'm sure it takes their whole life and they still don't find fulfillment. Instead, I like to think about it like this: You do not find your passion, you develop it over time. Passion is cultivated from hard work, fun, and skill development. Too many people judge themselves and become anxious that they don't have a "thing" or a niche that stands out to make them unique. Not only is that approach inauthentic and may not bring the person true fulfilment in their work, I don't think it is realistic because we are living in a world where jobs are constantly changing, as are trends. Jobs that were necessary 50 years ago, may not be in another 10 years, and in 30 years there will be jobs that we haven't even considered yet.
If we truly want to think about passion in a productive and meaningful way that can be cultivated, I think we need to consider it as a form of personal development. As with many personal development moments, passion can happen accidentally - an opportunity to do or try something that suddenly sparks intrigue and curiosity. It also takes encouragement and exposure because it is not just a one-time thing. Like with Kolb's cycle of experiential learning, a passion is often cultivated through multiple events or experiences that continue to trigger reflection, reinforcement and eventually an interest. Recognizing those opportunity for on-going reflection and growth can often be a catalyst to develop a passion and choose to pursue it. Notice I said 'choose'? That's because I believe that passion doesn't necessarily require a natural talent or skill, but that it is a willingness to choose to explore this topic for the sake of curiosity and learning.
Cultivating passion also takes practice and self-discipline, no different than trying to stick to a diet, or go to the gym every day (... can you tell I'm talking about how little self-discipline I have in these areas?). In order to reach levels of mastery or commitment to cultivating the passion, a lot of effort must be applied so knowledge is acquired and skills are constantly developing. This choice to be committed to improving often shows reward and results. It is these results, which could be anything from successfully completing a project to seeing growth in another person, that often spark that feeling of passion. When that passion starts to align with purpose, that feeling becomes stronger and helps guide our decision making.
With that said, it is also important to recognize that you need to let yourself off the hook if you haven't found your passion yet. Focusing so much time and energy on having a "thing" likely just makes you feel more overwhelmed and upset, especially if you are comparing yourself to others. It is very possible that your friends, siblings and/or colleagues have found a true passion, and that is great. But don't belittle yourself because you have yet to find yours; instead try to take opportunities that are presented to you to dabble in areas or topics that you feel align with your purpose (values and mission) and talents. See where it goes and continue to use reflection as a tool to determine if those opportunities are congruent with who you are as a person or not. When you find something that peaks your interest, continue to dedicate your time and effort into exploring that topic a little bit more. Instead of waiting for your passion to find you, make the choice to develop it yourself.
A creative educator striving to enhance the holistic student experience and committed to exploring personal fulfillment.