Worried about finding your passion?
These days you hear a lot about ‘finding your passion’. It tends to go hand in hand with life affirming statements like ‘chase your dreams’ and ‘JUST DO IT!’ (see previous blog post for more on this last one).
But what does it actually involve, all this searching for your passion? I don’t know about you but it sounds to me like hard work and a big chunk of self-reflection, neither of which I have much time for between work and life in general. Which is why I was very happy to find this article on the website of Mark Manson, a self-proclaimed dispenser of ‘personal development that doesn’t suck’. Mark’s basic argument in the article is that you’ve probably already found your passion. As he says in the article;
“You already found your passion, you’re just ignoring it. Seriously, you’re awake 16 hours a day, what the f*** do you do with your time? You’re doing something, obviously. You’re talking about something. There’s some topic or activity or idea that dominates a significant amount of your free time, your conversations, your web browsing, and it dominates them without you consciously pursuing it or looking for it.”
In a way this shouldn’t be a revelation. It’s one of those things which is obvious when somebody says. And it’s great news as it means all I have to do is think about what I think about all day. Which is easy. I’m always thinking about the books I’ve read, documentaries I’ve seen, art I like and loads and loads of other stuff which is really just nonsense and noise next to all the highbrow stuff I chose to mention because it made me sound good.
But can you make it work for you? OK, I like comics and think about those from time to time. But I can’t make money that way! Surely. Mark mentions comics as an example in his article and what he has to say about the likelihood of making a career out of it is a really deep, thought provoking answer;
“F*** you, have you even tried?”
Well… no, I haven’t. And in fact there are loads of things that I enjoy and think about that I’ve never thought about actively pursuing and which therefore, I suppose, aren’t really my passion so much as my interest.
So what do I think about all the time that I then do follow-up on and which therefore must surely be my passion? It took me a few moments mulling this over before I had the answer (I got stuck on ‘playing computer games’ and ‘eating food’ for several minutes). What I like to think about doing, plan doing, and then actually do is helping people. I love helping people and trying to make life a little easier each day for the people around me. And the fact that I work for a charity helping people to get into employment means that it turns out that I’m already following my passion, doing what I want to do with my life. It sometimes doesn’t feel like it because this job isn’t always the easiest job in world but then that’s part of the joy of it. How happy would I be if I’m never challenged to do more, get better, learn new skills and feel like I earned something. It’s much easier to enjoy your free time and money when you feel like you earned it.
Again, as Mark says in his blog;
“Look, here’s another slap in the face for you: every job sucks sometimes. There’s no such thing as some passionate activity that you will never get tired of, never get stressed over, never complain about. It doesn’t exist. I am living my dream job (which happened by accident, by the way. I never in a million years planned on this happening; like a kid on a playground I just went and tried it), and I still hate about 30% of it. Some days more.”
So if finding your passion is something you’re worried about then stop, take a moment to think about what you’re doing, what you like, what you watch on TV or read in a book, and ask yourself ‘have I already found it?’
For more (somewhat sweary) articles, check out Mark’s blog on markmanson.net