For years, decades actually, I tried to “find my passion”–that one BIG thing that would fulfill me, provide absolutely perfect direction and meaning to my life. So far, no luck, and I’ve read dozens of books, hired life coaches and accumulated years of experience, all promising the path to a purposeful life and finding that ONE BIG PASSION (OBP). Well, I’ll save you time and money on these books (which all have good information), but didn’t lead me to my ONE BIG PASSION. Oh, and that nonsense about “just follow your passion, the money will be come”–well, that’s simply just not true either. Let me explain.
Yes, for those lucky ones, there may be the ONE BIG PASSION. The clue is hearing them say, “since I was little, I always wanted to….” But I’m not one of those people. However, I’ve had many interests, enjoyed a successful career, loved being a mom of two terrific sons, and done some amazing things throughout my life so far. Just not that OBP that has defined my life! I’ve talked with hundreds of people who still are looking and haven’t found their OBP either. They’ve also experienced excitement, love, deep feelings, meaning, and the range of emotions found in a life well lived.
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
I believe we have many passions and interests that excite us, bring us happiness, challenge us in new ways to be our best selves, and/or make money. If you still haven’t found your ONE BIG PASSION, I suggest you take the following 4 steps and see what happens. You may be amazed at what you will find for your life.
- Be curious. Find something you enjoy doing, excites you, or you’re innately curious about learning. This may require some sleuthing around in your childhood, recall past experiences you tried and enjoyed, or something you remember saying years ago, “I’d love to do _______ if I ever get the time.” Well, now is the time! Make a list—there are probably several interests worth a deep dive for you.
- Pick one (or maybe two) things you are drawn to more than the others. For me, several years ago, I felt drawn to long-distance running. I wasn’t what you’d probably describe as “passionate” about it like I am for dark chocolate and it clearly wasn’t at the “change or save the world” level. But doing more running and going to racing events definitely intrigued me.
- Focus. Learn. Do. Focus on something and then explore and learn about it more deeply. I began improving my skills and took action by immersing myself in a community of runners, creating a training program and signing up for my first half marathon race. Skill building, running regularly, and being around runners, got me more excited and passionate about running. (Only runners understand why you’d get up at 5 am to train because its a perfect 45 degrees!) Learning, getting better, and doing it fuel the passion, which kept me out there year after year. Since then, I’ve run a couple dozen 1/2 marathons and a full marathon last year. And I love it! It’s a passion, however I wouldn’t call it my OBP.
- Define what success means to you. Could it be writing a best seller, creating a non-profit organization to serves the world, or building a business around your wisdom, service or products? Whatever your interest, you need to understand what success means to you. Is it external or is it for you only. If you define success externally, it is necessary you identify the needs of your audience. You can have a passion for a terrific business idea, develop great skills and then realize there is no need (or buyers) for your product. Actually this happens all the time! (This is where the idea “follow your passion and the money will follow” falls apart!) Currently, I am writing a book on a topic I’ve been passionate about for years. One of the first things my writing coach asked me was about my intention for the book and what needs of my readers I’m addressing. Obviously I love the topic, am doing research, and learning skills to become a better writer. But, I also need to clarify who my audience is and how I can reach them to ensure my book is read and appreciated by someone other than my dear friends! (For financial success if your passion is creating a business, developing essential skills like accounting and marketing is required–rarely a creative person’s forte.) More is needed, along with all the passion one can muster for the dream. Passion is the secret sauce that makes all the difference and what keep us going when we’re tired, scared, and thinking about giving up. Success may be defined as personal accomplishment. For my running, my measure of success was personal–to do my best and improve my PR (personal record) in my races. Personal accomplishment may be true for you if your passions include music, art, or other creative endeavors.
If the idea of “finding your ONE BIG PASSION” has not worked or feels overwhelming, I offer the alternative that you really have several passions that excite you. Doesn’t that feel less daunting and more approachable?
Isn’t it time to re-discover and explore one or more, especially in midlife where you have more time and resources freed up to do so. I contend my life has been much richer with several passions throughout my life, and I believe that’s true for most of us, so I suggest you just start now.
Please comment below and share your experiences with our community. We’d love to hear more.