I’ve been helping people find and follow their passion since 2009.
I’ve noticed the same questions come up over and over again.
And the answers always remain the same.
The truth of the matter is that you already have the answers; you’re just getting in your own way.
How? By thinking too much. Trying to figure things out. Forcing progress. The trying to force things to happen gets in the way of things happening.
If that doesn’t quite make sense, or you don’t quite believe it, keep reading.
This is article is an in-depth read, so make sure you bookmark it. Share it with your friends.
Put up your legs, grab some tea or coffee, and take it in one word at a time.
Here’s what you’re about to learn:
- What does passion mean?
- The benefits of doing what you love
- Is following your passion bad advice?
- How to find your passion in 5 steps
- What if you’re not passionate about anything?
- What if you have too many ideas?
- What if you’re exhausted after your day job?
- What if you don’t know where to start?
- What if you’re afraid to fail?
- What if you get bored quickly?
- What if you don’t have anything to offer?
- The secret of secrets
- How I found my passion
- Mistake: Forgetting your wisdom
- Mistake: Standing still
- Mistake: Letting moods rule you
- Mistake: Being in a hurry
- If all else fails, watch this video
- If you remember nothing else, remember this
Let’s start at the beginning.
What Does Passion Mean?
We’ve made passion into an object, something that if we can get our hands on we can be happy. If we can just acquire enough passion, purpose, money, or whatever it is, then we can be happy.
But passion is just a word. And like all words, it points to something beyond itself. To me, the beyond is joy and fulfillment right here, right now.
In this very moment.
Being in touch with my own inner wisdom, and my own heart. I’m connected to something greater. We all are. We are made of star dust. We are made of the dust, air, earth, and water we see all around us.
Following your passion doesn’t necessarily mean quitting your job, or leaving your family. It doesn’t require you to do anything radical.
It means starting with what you have, and beginning to listen to your heart, one step at a time, one day at a time.
It means being grateful for what you have, but also being willing to follow the nudges of your heart.
The Benefits of Doing What You Love
When I started following my passion, I didn’t know about the word passion. All I knew was that it felt good to follow what I was interested in.
It felt good to follow my heart.
As I’ve kept following this magnetic pull, kept letting life live through me, I’ve noticed a myriad of benefits and changes in my life. A few examples are:
- More joy
- More happiness
- A feeling of mystery and magic in life
- More synchronicities and coincidences
- More success (both inner and outer)
- Better relationships
- Less fear (but not fearless)
- Less worry
- Less stress
- Being more okay with the ups and downs of life
And the list goes on and on. If following my passion could be bottled, it would be worth mountains of chocolate chip cookies.
Not everyone agrees with me though. Some people say that following your passion is the last thing you should do.
Is Following Your Passion Bad Advice?
Plenty of people say that following your passion doesn’t work.
But when we break passion down and see that it’s really about doing what you’re interested in, we begin to see the truth.
Those against passion seem to be against people who say that following your passion will make everything okay.
And sometimes it does that.
Often it doesn’t.
To me this isn’t about throwing out passion. It’s about embracing both practicality and passion. This is where we’re heading as a species.
We’re learning to listen to ourselves more.
Instead of looking outside of ourselves for answers, we are beginning to look to the only source that ever had any answers–the wisdom inside.
Any piece of advice can be made bad. It depends on the person. A knife can be used to heal, or to kill. The user determines the purpose of the tool.
But passion is already within each of us. Our feelings tell us if we’re on the right track or not. This doesn’t mean you should quit your job and ‘just do what you love.’
It means you take things one step at a time.
You’re practical, while listening to your heart, and what makes you come alive.
You work with what you have.
I talk about this in-depth in my book, Do What You Love: Essays on Uncovering Your Path in Life.
How to Find Your Passion – 5 Steps
As Nietzsche put it:
A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.
Look at finding your passion as an experiment.
You have interests (questions).
Follow them and see what happens.
Even though I’ve found my passion, my passion keeps changing.
Life is like a river, constantly changing, and ever flowing, with new things coming through.
This is not a problem.
It only becomes a problem when you think it should be otherwise.
Now, let’s look at the five steps. And remember, these are things that have worked for me. They are not rules. So try them out. Make them your own. Notice what works.
The most important part for me in finding and following my passion is to listen to myself.
You could call this listening to your wisdom, your heart, your calling, or even God. The label is unimportant.
To me it’s like I’m noticing where I’m being nudged.
I follow the positive pulls of life.
I follow the good feeling.
This isn’t living through impulse. I don’t make rash decisions. I use my practical mind. I take time when making decisions, but I do what I love as best as I can.
The best time to listen is when I’m in a clear mood. When I’m in a low mood, everything looks dull and gray. The world seems to be against me. During those times, I know I’m not thinking straight, so I wait. A clearer mood comes along soon enough.
I don’t try to change my low moods, because getting in there and doing something only makes it worse.
(You can read more about the listening process in my follow your heart articles.)
It comes down to learning to navigate independently. Learning to make your own decisions. Here’s a video on this topic:
2. Start Small
While I’m in a good state of mind, I ask myself: What’s the next tiny step I can take in the direction I feel pulled?
When I began writing books, my next step was to join a course, and follow that course as best I could.
You simply have to do what you can with what you have.
Following my passion is about staying grounded in the present moment. When I notice that I’m feeling bad, I’ve already lost it.
When that happens, I take a break.
I don’t berate myself for feeling bad. I just let it be.
So if thinking big isn’t working for you, think small instead. Follow the breadcrumbs of life. Be practical. Have a goal if you want to. But live life one second at a time.
Here’s a video on following those breadcrumbs:
3. Start Now
When I start anything new, I start before I feel ready (James Clear wrote a good piece on this here).
Now, just a moment ago, I told you to wait for a clearer mood. So why am I now saying to start anyway? Waiting helps clarify in what general direction you want to go. It saves energy, because you aren’t getting caught up in momentary spikes of excitement.
In order to start moving forward, you often have to start before you feel ready, because we have a habit of always thinking we need to learn more.
I know that I’ll never know everything. I may always feel like there’s more I need to learn. Luckily, I also know that I don’t have to take my thoughts seriously.
Just because I think I need to learn more doesn’t make it so.
I know that I’m always feeling my thinking, so when my thoughts change, my feelings change. I might feel confident one moment, and scared the next.
As I take action, I’ll notice what’s true and what’s not.
It is only through challenging my assumptions–because that’s what thoughts are–that I see if something will work or not.
And if you don’t know where to start, start anywhere. If you don’t know what your passion is, start experimenting.
Like a kid in a candy store, you won’t know what your favorite piece of candy is until you start licking stuff.
Here’s a video on having no direction, or feeling lost:
4. Stop Trying to Figure It Out
As human begins, we want to figure things out.
It seems logical to figure things out. But the truth is that figuring things out gets in the way of figuring things out.
As Jack Pransky writes in Somebody Should Have Told Us:
Figuring it out, no matter how hard we try, gets in the way of an answer, which is why we’re trying to figure it out in the first place.
So you may want to get crystal clear on what your passion is. You may want to figure it out. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to.
All you have to do is to notice the positive pulls of life, and take each moment as it comes.
I don’t know where I’m going.
I don’t know what’s coming.
And neither do you.
We don’t know if something bad today is a blessing in disguise, so why try to figure it out? Simply do what you can with what you have.
Rumi, the great poet, knew what he was talking about when he said:
Don’t worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?
Sometimes what seems like your life falling apart is your life falling into place.
Here’s a video on overthinking things:
5. Keep Adjusting
Living a passionate life is about realizing that life is not fixed. Passion is not an object you can find and put in your pocket.
Life is constantly changing, and so are you.
You can handle whatever life throws at you, but only if you do it in the present moment.
Remember, you’re always feeling your thinking.
If you entertain fearful thoughts, you will feel fear. It doesn’t mean that the world is scary. It means that your thinking is “scary.”
It’s a sign to not take your thinking so seriously.
To find your passion, notice what you are interested in, take action, and keep adjusting.
That’s the secret formula.
But you may still not feel ready to start. If so, here’s a video:
Now let’s look at a few common questions.
What If You’re Not Passionate About Anything?
If you don’t think you’re passionate about anything, look at your definition of passion.
What expectations do you have?
What do you think passion should look like?
More often than not, your expectations are out of sync with reality. A passion may not set your heart on fire. And it doesn’t have to.
You may not even feel passionate about anything. You may feel interested in things. That interest is a seed, that when watered with your attention, becomes passion, or just more interesting.
So if you don’t think you’re passionate about anything, start with what you’re interested in. Let yourself have fun for once in your life and explore what you want to do.
This doesn’t mean you have to quit your job. You can explore your interests on the side, and see where they lead.
Remember: Tiny steps.
Here’s a more in-depth look at this:
What If You Have Too Many Ideas?
We’re all multi-passionate. We all have many interests. But the good news is that you don’t have to turn every single passion into a business, nor do you have to blend them all together.
The problem isn’t that you have too many ideas. The problem is that you’re unwilling to test them. Having too many ideas just shows that you have a wildly creative mind. And that’s a good thing.
Focus your creative super power on testing your ideas in the real world. Grab one idea that you find interesting, and test it.
Create a tiny product.
When you test an idea, you get more information, and you learn more about yourself.
Here’s a short video on having too many ideas and interests:
What If You’re Exhausted After Work?
Let me put it this way: If you truly want to follow your passion, you will find a way.
If you think finding your passion is a thing you should do, I suggest you drop it. Try living your life for a few weeks. Pretend that the concept of passion doesn’t exist.
You don’t have to do anything.
For me, passion comes down to enjoying this moment.
So play with that. See what happens.
As you stop trying to figure things out, as your mind calms down, answers come.
What If You Don’t Know Where to Start?
When people say “I don’t know where to start,” what I hear is “I don’t know what path to take in order to be successful.”
They’re thinking about how they can get to their final destination.
But it isn’t your job to know where you’re going.
It isn’t your job to figure this out, remember?
If you know what you’re interested in, focus on tiny steps. Forget about results.
Forget about big steps.
We’ve been taught to make something big happen.
Eliminate the made-up pressure. Pressure and stress is a thought that we believe in. In reality, there’s no rush.
You cannot control outcomes. If you try, you’ll end up exhausting yourself.
As is written in the Bhagavad Gita:
Desire for the fruits of one’s actions brings worry about possible failure. When you are preoccupied with end results you pull yourself from the present into an imagined, usually fearful future. Then your anxiety robs your energy and, making matters worse, you lapse into inaction and laziness.
Interesting how that works, isn’t it?
We’re taught that we should control, set goals, and strive. But in reality, doing that gets in the way of what we’re trying to do.
You don’t have to know where to start.
You just have to start.
Notice that it’s not not knowing that stops you, but the thought that you should know. It’s a thought. You can take it seriously, or you can smile at it, and do your best.
Here’s a video on saying bye bye to all of it:
What If You’re Afraid to Fail?
While we’re on the topic of thought, it’s not failure you’re afraid of, but the image of failure in your head.
You always experience your thinking.
We don’t feel the world. Our thoughts give us our experience of the world.
So if you’re afraid to fail, you’re feeling fear because of a thought you’re giving attention to. Most people don’t know they’re doing this, but when they realize what’s going on, they see what they’ve been doing all these years.
In the end, you might fail, or you might not. You can’t know what failure looks like. Going bankrupt might be the best thing that ever happened to you. Building a 7-figure business might be the worst thing.
We just can’t know. And that brings us to back to the present moment. You can only do what you can with what you have.
You might fail, but so what? Do you want to let one thought keep you away from following your heart, and doing what you love?
The bottom line is, you can transcend the fear of failure, as I talk about in this short video:
What If You Get Bored Quickly?
Sometimes interests run dry.
Happens to me all the time. But sometimes the boredom is masking an underlying fear.
It’s easier to tell yourself you’re bored than to face up to the fact that you’re afraid of taking it further. Maybe you’re afraid of being vulnerable, of opening yourself up.
Explore the fear.
Grab a pen and a piece of paper and start writing about why you’re bored. What’s the thought that creates boredom? What would happen if you weren’t bored?
What if you kept going?
Sometimes jumping from thing to thing may be a fear of failure. Or it might not. It’s up to you to explore.
Below is a video on what if following your passion doesn’t work out.
What If You Don’t Have Anything to Offer?
The fact that you think that means that you care about what you put out there.
That’s a good sign.
No one on this planet is like you.
No one has the same experiences.
You don’t have to share something you don’t know. All you have to do is share what is true for you.
It’s in sharing your understanding that your message becomes magnetic.
When I get stuck in my thinking, my writing doesn’t flow. I start thinking about how so and so would write this. Should I do this, should I do that.
But when I notice that it’s my thinking, I let it be. I share what I have to say, and that’s that. You don’t have to be perfect when you share your truth, because you’re transmitting a feeling, an experience.
The words are on the surface. The feeling is below the surface.
When you read these words, you get a sense of something. There’s an aroma. A feeling that I transmit.
Can you feel it?
The Secret of Secrets
Sages and wise men have been saying for ages that you are what you seek.
The same holds true here; your passion is not something you have to find, but something you uncover.
You are already on your path. What’s holding you back from living your truth are the ideas you believe. Excuses, fears, worries, and reasons why you can’t do something.
They don’t mean that you can’t do something. They simply mean that you’re using the power of thought to stop yourself.
Now, you don’t have to change your thinking. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying take a step back and let your thinking do what it does, which is to always keep changing.
Remain in the now, in the present moment.
The problem isn’t your thinking, but your thinking about your thinking.
Like a radio, a new song will come on if you leave it alone. The fixing your thinking, and thinking you have to fix yourself gets in the way of the natural functioning of your being.
Leave it alone. Go do something else.
When you do, new thoughts will bubble to the surface.
And with new thought will come new feelings, and new possibilities.
How I Found My Passion
With all this said, finding your passion doesn’t mean your life will be easy. It hasn’t been for me.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be hard.
What makes anything hard is my thinking. Circumstances have nothing to do with what I feel.
I always feel what I think.
Now, you might say that someone who has cancer would disagree. But haven’t you heard of people who said that cancer was the best thing that happened to them?
Someone could be smiling while taking their last breath.
The difference lies in their thinking.
Finding my passion has been about following my interests. I didn’t know what passion was when I began following my interests in 2002.
I simply explored what made me curious.
That was enough for me.
I read books.
I visited forums.
I talked to people. It was as if life left breadcrumbs for me to follow.
Eventually I stumbled onto poker. Then I stopped playing poker. I began building websites. Then I started this blog. I listened to my audience. I listened to myself. A business grew out of a blog. And it’s still evolving.
It never stops.
And it’s not a problem. Uncertainty doesn’t hold me hostage because I know that I have an inner GPS within me.
In a way, I haven’t found my passion, because it keeps changing. I’m simply living life through my heart.
I notice the nudges of my heart. I listen to my inner wisdom.
Finding my passion for me has meant uncovering my heart. When I am navigating from that place of stillness, I am where I need to be.
There is nowhere else I can be.
That means I am on the right path. I am doing my best. That is all I can ever do.
Let’s have a look at some of the mistakes of finding and following your passion.
Mistake #1: Forgetting Your Wisdom
Finding your passion can feel like a hunt for something, but it’s simply the act of looking within.
In my work, I do my best to point you inward. To see that you already have an innate wisdom guiding you through life.
You simply have to get out of the way, and allow it to help you. To get out of the way by not taking your thoughts too seriously.
Thoughts will still come. They never stop. The key is that you don’t have to think about your thoughts. You don’t have to interpret life.
You don’t have to fix yourself.
Let it be.
Your job is to live life.
Not to control it.
So a big mistake is to forget your wisdom. When you forget, you start looking to others for answers. You start thinking that you have to do something drastic to be happy.
You know you’re doing this because it feels confusing.
You’re looking for what you already are.
Mistake #2: Standing Still
Some people say: “Won’t I just sit on the couch doing nothing if I calm my mind? I need anxiety to take action, right?”
I’ve never seen that to be true.
Sure, people who are anxious get stuff done, but is it sustainable? Is it how you want to live life?
When I feel great, when I’m in touch with my wisdom, I can’t wait to experience the world. I can’t wait to write, create, and explore.
That is the energy of inspiration.
This doesn’t mean I don’t get work done when I feel bad. It just means that I prefer to feel inspired.
Mistake #3: Letting Moods Rule You
We all have bad days.
What you may not have been told is that when you feel bad, it’s merely a signal that you can’t trust your thinking.
When you have a bad day, you feel a sense of urgency to act. You feel like you need to fix your whole life. Everything seems wrong.
In reality, nothing is wrong.
What’s wrong is your thinking.
Your thinking gives you the feeling of urgency and insecurity.
When this happens, I don’t do anything (mentally). I get out of the way. I take a break. I take a walk. Whatever I feel like.
Now, sometimes I have to get work done. When that happens, I’m aware that my low mood is skewing my thinking. That in itself helps me take action, because I don’t take my thinking as personally.
I’m less likely to overreact.
If you feel like giving up, which we all do from time to time, watch this video:
Mistake #4: Being in a Hurry
Being in a hurry is a symptom of entertaining insecure thoughts.
Why would you be in a hurry if you already had everything you needed?
We want to accomplish goals, and get somewhere, so we can feel something. But remember, our feelings come from our thinking.
Not from the outside world.
Accomplishing more won’t make you feel something. Not in the long-term.
You have innate wellbeing within you, it’s just hidden behind all of those thoughts. All of the shoulds, musts, and have-to’s.
I’ve noticed that when I’m not in a hurry, I get more done. When I enjoy where I am, I’m happier.
Now you might say, “Well, I’m not happy where I am, so my situation is different.”
But it’s not.
Your thinking is what gives you your current experience. That doesn’t mean you suddenly love a job you don’t like.
It means you make the best of what you have. You do what you can. And you notice that you don’t have to make it harder than it is.
What I’m talking about is not a quick fix, but a different way of seeing the world. A more wholesome way of living.
It may take time to sink in.
You may notice changes right away. I don’t know.
I’m just here to plant the seed.
If All Else Fails, Watch This
If you’ve been trying to find your passion or purpose, and you’re stuck, stop looking.
You don’t have to find perfection, you just have to start tasting and enjoying life.
It is through experimenting and trying things that your passion will reveal itself to you.
Here’s a video on this:
If You Remember Nothing Else, Remember This
You have the answers within you.
It may not feel like you do, but they are there.
You have insights just like anyone else. You’ve had moments where everything makes sense. You’ve had a-ha moments.
Those are signs of you getting in touch with your inner wisdom. It’s trying to figure things out that gets in the way of figuring things out. When you let go of control, things flow.
You don’t have to force results, or answers.
Let the answers come when they come.
You just let go, and do your best. That is enough. Now, go out and test the ideas in this article. Don’t believe a word of what I’ve said.
Apply what you’ve learned, and listen to your wisdom.
This article has come from my wisdom, my inspiration, but I’m not living your life.
All the best,
P.S. If you’re interested in diving deeper into finding your passion, I invite you to check out my book Find Your Passion: 25 Questions You Must Ask Yourself