If you’re anything like me, finding your passion & purpose in life and then living in line with it is important to you. You want what you do to be meaningful, to have an impact, and to reflect your best self. And you believe that bringing your passion to life will bring you happiness and fulfillment.
But for many of us, it can be hard to really identify what our passions are. Are they are hobbies? The aspects of our jobs we like the most? How do we even articulate them? Should we have more than one? How do we actually figure out what they are?
I’ve given a lot of thought to this topic, and actually recorded the video below on my YouTube channel a few years ago. It shares my top tips for discovering your passions including key questions to ask yourself to uncover them. If you’d rather read my advice, then keep scrolling!
Finding Your Passion & Purpose in Life Video
My video about discovering your passion and incorporating it into your daily life.
Identify Key Moments
This first tip may sound pretty obvious, but it’s to identify when you’ve felt the most alive, engaged, and the most like your best self. What are some of your “highlights”? When have you been happiest? What factors were at play?
Here are some of mine:
- Volunteering at the Ontario Universities Fair when I was in university. I was there as an ambassador for my school and program and tasked with sharing my experience with prospective students and answering their questions. I remember leaving each day feeling completely invigorated and so energized from helping students and sharing my story.
- Speaking at my former university to a group of Marketing students. I talked to them about my career path, the choices I made, and shared my advice as they wrap up school and begin to prepare to start their careers. It was deeply fulfilling and I loved being able to provide guidance and coaching to the students at an important time in their lives.
Focus on the “How” and the “Why” versus the “What”
This next tip is all about digging deeper. Instead of focusing on the “what”, focus on the “how” and “why”.
For example, looking at the Ontario Universities Fair as a “what”, it’s an event for high school students to provide guidance and insight on universities. And if you took that at face value, you may say that my passions should drive me to work in HR or talent acquisition or as a professor or something of that nature.
But if you dig deeper and ask yourself why the experience was powerful and how you felt, you can glean more insight about yourself.
For example, for the “how”, I learned that I enjoyed it because I was:
- Interacting and engaging with motivated people.
- Talking to students about their goals and aspirations.
- Giving them advice on a personal level.
- Drawing on and sharing my experience to give them insight into my university and how I chose to go there.
And then looking at the “why”, I enjoyed it because it made me feel:
- Helpful, and like I was able to play a role in a big decision for students.
- Connected to those I was speaking to.
- Empowered and proud of my experience since I could see how relevant it was for the students.
Really understanding what aspects of it made the experience so powerful gives you a better sense about what about where your passions might lie.
Broaden Your Definition of “Interests”
For many of us, we think of our interests as our hobbies. So for example, we play on a recreational hockey team or we really like playing video games or we’re a member of a book club.
But try to look beyond that and look at what your interests are based on your behaviour. For example, when you go to the bookstore (or Amazon!), what sections do you really gravitate towards? When you’re having conversations with people, what types of conversations and people do you most gravitate towards? And what conversations make you feel the most engaged and tap into your true self in areas that are really meaningful to you?
Ask Yourself Some Key Questions
Spur your thinking by asking yourself some important questions.
Here are some thought starters:
What would I do if I had a billion dollars? Or if money was no object?
I think we often let the thought of money and earnings stand in the way. We may have an area of passion, but we don’t really pursue it because we would either have to take a pay cut, go back to school, or take a financial risk.
Use the answer to this question to better understand what it is that’s important to you.
If you only had six months left to live, what would you want to do?
Now this is beyond obviously wanting to spend time with friends and family. This is more getting at if you had a limited time left what activities would you like to do and what impact would you like to make?
For me, it was asking this question that really got me thinking about starting my YouTube channel because I wanted to make sure that every day I was living in a way that I was proud of and in a way that was just making a bigger impact on those around me.
Ask yourself those questions you might be surprised by the answers. And just really use that information to better your understanding of yourself. When it comes to these questions you can also ask people around you, like close friends, family, and colleagues. You can ask them things like:
- When have you seen me most in my element?
- Are there any particular aspects of my personality or strengths that you think really shine through at certain times? And what are those aspects?
We often have a very different perspective of ourselves than others may have of us and you might uncover some really interesting insight by asking other people those questions.
Test and Learn
My last piece of advice is to test and learn. Look at ways to incorporate aspects of your passion into your existing life and create room for them to flourish. Not only will this give you more insight into what aspects you like and which ones you don’t, but you can also then further refine what you see your passions as and how you move forward.
I’ll give you an example from my own life. I recognized that I’m passionate about making a difference and a positive impact especially when it comes to career advice and personal development. To really foster those interests, I chose to volunteer with the Entrepreneurial Adventure program (run by The Learning Partnership). Through this program, I acted as a business mentor in an elementary school class to help students start and run their own business. This involved giving them coaching and guidance along the way, and acting as a sounding board. This was a fantastic way to incorporate my passion into my weekly life in a way that complements my full-time job.
Let me know in the comments below: after going through this exercise, where do your passions lie? And what additional advice do you have around this topic?