You want to get up in the morning and feel fired up about what you do. But what if you don’t know what, exactly, that is?
Finding your passion isn’t always an easy road—at least for me, and many people I know, it wasn’t. You’re working in a hectic day job that takes up a lot of your time and energy, and while you know it’s not what you love, you can’t even manage cooking your own dinner most nights, let alone discovering your passions.
Our lives are constantly operating at a frenetic pace, and so it’s easy to get caught up in all of the noise and distractions. But if you’re itching to discover your passion, then it’s time to clear your schedule and commit to making it your number one priority.
And here are five ways to start doing that today.
1. Slow Down
This may sound counterintuitive, but you need to slow down and get off the treadmill in order to find your passion. There may be clues all around you that are telling you what you should be doing, but when you’re too busy, it’s hard to see them. It’s in those moments of silence that you’re able to really become more aware of what inspires you.
I know it’s not always easy to slow down, but even a couple of lifestyle changes—things like getting plenty of rest, moving your body, and even practicing a mindfulness technique like meditation—can make all the difference in connecting with your passion. When you take time to nurture your mind and body, you’ll feel more energized and creatively inspired.
2. Be Your Own Life Detective
So you’ve started to slow down and take some time for yourself. Now what?
Take some time to notice the things in your life that bring you the most joy. What activities energize you when you do them? Is it writing? Talking to people? Working on a design project? Being with kids? Over the next week, grab a journal and record how you feel as you’re going through your day-to-day activities, as these activities can be big clues into what your passions are. And don’t dismiss any activities—if you get jazzed up when you color coordinate your closet or design one-of-a-kind pet accessories, that counts.
Another great exercise is to walk into a bookstore and see where you end up. Do you gravitate to the cooking section? Self-help? Sports? Find topics that interest you and go dig deeper into the subject.
3. Give Yourself Permission to Explore
Now that you’ve started to pay attention to which activities and interests make you feel most energized, keep doing more of them and stay away from those that drain you.
When I was figuring out what my passions were, I realized that I enjoyed yoga, dance, writing, and studying holistic health and personal growth. And as I started integrating more of those activities into my life, I was amazed at the amount of inspiration that followed.
Eventually, as you give yourself permission to go down these roads, you’ll start to narrow down your passions more and more, just by doing what feels best to you. For example, while exploring my interests, I enrolled in a Basic Photoshop class at a local design school—then quickly realized sitting behind a computer and designing was not for me. Later on I pursued my interest for holistic health by enrolling at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and that road led me to my calling.
Some interests will lead you to your passion while others won’t, but know that that nothing you do is a mistake because your actions are informing you of where you’re meant to go. The more you take action on your areas of interest, the more you’ll begin to discover your passions.
4. Reach Out to People
As you’re going through these exercises, be sure to connect with people who are doing something you’re interested in—maybe it’s the nutritionist at your gym or the owner of the art gallery you stop by every day after work—and talk to them about their experience. I consulted with four different people who had graduated from my holistic health program before I took the plunge and enrolled. Another woman I know worked on the floor of a wine shop and reached out to several founders of wine shops before starting her own.
Ask them questions like, “What is your day-to-day like?” “What steps can I take to transition from where I am now to doing this full-time?” or “What are the things I need to consider before working in this industry?”—anything that might help you learn more about the field.
In addition, doing an internship or apprenticeship, even a few hours a week, is a great way to learn if you enjoy working in a particular field before committing to it. It will also give you a foot in the door when you’re looking for new jobs down the line.
5. Stay Open and Flexible
Finally, know that when you follow your interests, they could lead you on a different path than you ever expected. So, it’s important to stay open and flexible without any attachment to where you’ll end up. A woman I know left her stable financial analyst job to become a journalist at a financial publication and follow her passion for writing. Two years later, she left there to start her own online publication after gaining chops as a journalist.
You have no idea where your interests will lead you if you keep moving toward what feels good to you—but you can be sure you’ll be guided to where you need to be.
And once you’ve found what you love? Well, then you can begin to figure out how to turn it into your reality.
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Photo of woman thinking courtesy of Shutterstock.