Finding your passion is not an easy goal. It’s also not something you’ll knock out in a weekend, or even necessarily keep for a lifetime. For many, it’s a process and can be ever-evolving, changing from one year to the next. Really a passion is nothing more than a deep-seeded focus on an interest. And, as I’m sure you know, our interests change and evolve over the course of our lives as much as we do. Whatever your situation, using the following techniques will save you time in identifying your interests and determining if they are in fact passions.
1. Mind mapping
Mind mapping is the process of creating a webbed diagram to collect your thoughts. It works well to understand the interconnectivity of ideas, and provides you with a reference map of sorts to better evaluate your topic. Best of all, once you get started, you’ll notice that it actually inspires you to think of things you may have never previously considered. To do this, you can use use software like Mind Meister or XMind. But you can just as easily use pencil and paper. The important thing to remember when mind mapping is to not filter yourself, just let the ideas flow.
The next technique is similar to the first in that it is another “unfiltered” exercise. Free-writing is the simple act of putting pen to paper or finger to keys and writing for a pre-determined amount of time. That’s the only rule: you can’t stop writing, no matter what, until the time is up. Ask yourself the simple question: What am I interested in? Then set a timer for 10 minutes and let the ideas fly. I’m guessing if you do this, you’ll be amazed at the things you put down. And, honestly, who doesn’t have 10 minutes to spare.
3. Taking inventory of your time
Another great way to unearth some passions you may have is to track your time. Print out a simple form that you can carry with you for one week. This technique requires very little engagement, and even less brain power: simply write down what you’re doing throughout the week. Play soccer, jot it down. Write novels in your spare time, jot it down. Volunteer at an animal shelter, jot it down. At the end of the week go over your list and highlight where you’ve spent most of your time. Also, be sure to look for activities that may share a common theme. Maybe you like outdoor activities, but don’t necessarily care what they are. Then you can start exploring outdoor activities and see which ones bring you the most joy.
4. Analyzing what you read, buy, and talk about
Similar to the technique mentioned above, this technique requires very little effort but can yield outstanding results. If you can review a bank statement, a bookshelf, and reminisce about the conversations you had throughout the week, you’ll be well-positioned to discovering your passion(s). As I said before, a passion is nothing more than what you’re interested in. So, chances are, whatever you’re interested in is reflected in your conversations, your purchases, and your books.
5. What makes your blood boil?
This is kind of an inverted technique, but effective nonetheless. What have you gotten fired up about in the past? What issues have you discussed—maybe with family or friends or a colleague—that you couldn’t seem to see eye-to-eye on. Ask yourself what stance you took and why. Why did you get so heated? It is safe to assume whatever the issue is, you’re passionate about it.
6. Try everything
This last technique may seem obvious. You can’t truly know if you’re passionate about something until you try it out. Scratching the surface of an activity or a hobby may be fun, but truly having a passion for something is willing to pursue an interest once the novelty has worn off. If you throw yourself into various activities, groups, sports, organizations, and events you’ll eventually find a community of people you gel with and an activity you are passionate about.
Remember, while finding your passion and pursuing it are important, your passion is looking for you too. You will find yourself naturally drawn to different activities and people. Don’t stress out if you feel like you don’t know what you should be doing, or that you haven’t found your passion yet. By using the techniques I’ve outlined, and having patience, I’m confident you’ll be pursuing your passion in no time.