Looking back, I was pretty fortunate.
I was fortunate enough to stumble upon my high school law club and to take classes that I enjoyed, which introduced me to the idea of becoming a lawyer.
Not everyone gets that, nor is there a clear-cut way to find out. So consider this as a blueprint to help you on your hunt for what excites you.
Determine what passion means to you
The word "passion" gets thrown around a lot, and like many words, there’s room for interpretation. Therefore, by knowing what it means to you, you’ll be able to better understand what you’re looking for.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines passion as “a very powerful feeling, for example of sexual attraction, love, hate, anger or other emotion." The feelings you experience when you do something you’re genuinely passionate about are like no other because they make you feel like nothing else exists while you’re doing them.
When I was deciding whether I wanted to pursue law, one indicator that I was on the right track was a trip I took to the Statue of Liberty. I distinctly remember that I had stood on the pedestal level and it was as if everything just stopped for some time. Everything was silent but alive in my sight and hearing. It felt like I was glowing.
Bottom line: Your passion should make you feel like you’re alive within the world you'll work in.
Start with what you’re good at
The good news is you don’t always have to look far. Many times what you’re good at is also going to make you happy. You might need to take the time to practice what you know or try new things to discover skills that you might not know you have. Still, we all have something to bring to the table, and your talents are a good place to start looking for what makes you glow.
But even this has a caveat, which brings me to …
Know the difference between what you’re best suited for and what you want to do
The biggest, most human mistake you can make when trying to figure out your passions is misunderstanding where your joy is coming from.
Being good at something can bring you validation, which can make us feel happy. Say you’re good at math, and people always come to you for guidance. There's pride you can and should feel. But is that happiness coming from an inner sense of “wow, I love math” or “wow, I love this feeling of being good enough at math for others”?
When you excel or are happy while doing something, others notice. Talent and joy are incredibly eye-catching, but you won’t be pursuing a real passion if you’re just doing it for other people’s affection.
Life is admittedly … boring. Whether you have a passion or you don't, life gets redundant — a fact that has become more apparent with the pandemic.
There are days when you’re not going to want to do anything, even if your situation sounds like a dream. That’s where opportunities come in for every part of your journey.
When you’re unsure of your passion, take any and every opportunity. As I mentioned earlier, talents aren’t always everything, but seizing opportunities to try new things, especially when you’re apprehensive, will broaden your horizons.
When you reach a place where you know about what you want from life, take opportunities to grow. Passion doesn’t equate to prodigy. You need to try new things and flourish even in fields you like. Otherwise, you’re going to get stuck, and the progress and joy that first brought you in will fade.
It’s worth keeping in mind that these opportunities aren’t always hard to find. There are tons of career tools and resources that will help you learn about what you need to. But the best opportunities are the ones less seen because they’re usually just for you. They’re what your mind sees and makes of them, giving you a very unique perspective that can shape how you use your passion to transform the world.
Get out of your head
Making lists, vision boards and daydreaming about your ideal life — there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking time to figure out this incredibly complex mission. But, you can't just stop there. You must put out consistent action out in the real world instead of simply hoping and planning for the best.
There’s a fear of rejection that comes with putting your dreams out into the world with good cause. Things don’t always go as planned or hoped, but when facing questions like “What if I fail or lose” consider asking, “What if I win or succeed?” Your life can change in more ways than you’d like to think, so don’t let your fears excuse you from adventure.
Remember, there’s no timeline!
Yes, these steps are listed. But you don’t have to follow them or any other coaching in order. We’re often told that by 23, we should graduate. By 30, we should marry. By 60, we should retire. We’re always putting dates on when we should achieve something because, for some reason, we expect life to be organized.
Life is messy, with deadlines that are pushed up or delayed, assignments with changed due dates and tests with no submission criteria. There’s no end date for when you need to find your passion and no exact way to do it. Take a look at this woman on TikTok, for example. She’s 46 years old and learning to skateboard in a saree.
You can look up tons of other notable people who find passions in old age to remind you that you can start today, tomorrow or in the years to come. There’s no end date to living a life you want, so enjoy the journey.