One common piece of advice you might hear when looking for jobs is to “follow your passion.” Following the work, ideas and projects that make you feel fulfilled and motivated can help lead you to jobs you will enjoy and succeed in. While the idea is simple, it can be difficult to define and follow what exactly you are passionate about.
Finding your passion is an ongoing, sometimes lifelong journey. It takes many moments of thoughtful self-reflection, attention and action to find the topics, tasks and industries that make you feel excited. How you might integrate your passions into your life vary significantly from person to person.
Some people choose to pursue their passions during free time outside of work, while others prefer to dedicate their day-to-day work life to their passions. The choice you make will depend on what your passion is, whether or not it is easily transferred into a sustainable living and whether or not you want your paycheck to be tied to your passion.
There are six steps you can follow to identify your passion:
- Look for high points in your day
- Pay attention to what you spend your time and money on
- Consider topics you love to teach or talk about with others
- Think about your strengths
- Take the elements apart
- Explore career paths
Finding your career passion
The best way to identify what you’re passionate about is by paying attention. Each day you are likely excited, interested or satisfied by certain topics, tasks or activities. Let’s take a closer look at what you should look for in your day-to-day life that might bring a passion to light:
1. Look for high points in your day
There might be a certain day of the week or time of the day you look forward to for some reason. Maybe it’s a specific meeting, task or time you have set aside. You might also notice certain surprises or unexpected times that end up being the best part of your day. Pay attention to both seemingly significant and insignificant things that you would consider to be the peak of your day.
While many of these high points may happen during work, you may notice that your high points occur outside the workplace in the time you have for yourself, friends and family. Taking note of where and with whom your high points take place will bring you one step closer to knowing whether your passions are related to career or other parts of life.
2. Pay attention to what you spend your time and money on
We tend to focus our resources on things that are meaningful to us, including time and money. Look at your credit card bill or bank statements and see if there are any themes. Look at the topics of books, magazines, films or podcasts you consume. Is there a particular genre, subject or theme that stands out?
3. Consider topics you love to teach or talk about with others
Consider your interactions with others. What types of conversations do you enjoy the most? Do you find yourself particularly interested in talking about a specific subject? It might also be helpful to consider if there are any tasks or topics you tend to teach others about. These are often the things we find most important to us.
4. Think about your strengths
Taking time to identify both your soft and hard skills can help you understand things you’ve spent enough time and resources with to develop a talent. Alternatively, you might have a natural skill that makes you feel confident and motivated when completing certain tasks.
5. Examine the details
As you explore the things that naturally draw your attention in day-to-day life, you might also take time to consider what exactly about those things you are passionate about. For example, you might find that the peak of your day is volunteering by teaching adult night classes. What about doing this activity makes you happy? It could be:
- Spending time with a certain subject
- Being a leader in a community
- Helping others
Deeply exploring these factors can take time, but will help you identify exactly what motivates you. Doing this can help you find specific job opportunities that cater to your interests.
6. Explore career paths
Once you have identified a few areas of interest, spend time exploring different jobs. You can do this by browsing job titles on the Internet. You might also browse open opportunities. Reading job descriptions might help you find roles that you tend to be drawn to. Reading about a certain task or responsibility that sounds interesting might also help you research other, related roles that might be an even better fit.
If you’ve discovered that your passion is not something you want to pursue as a career, you can still use what you’ve learned to guide your job search. For example, if you’ve noticed that you’re passionate about spending time at home with your family, you can search for jobs with schedules that allow for that. Discovering your passions may also help you determine what salary level, benefits or other job attributes you require to support your lifestyle.
Taking time to identify things in your life that make you feel satisfied, excited, motivated or fulfilled is key to finding your passion. Translating that passion into a career happens by searching for opportunities and finding roles that appeal to your interests.