What processes can you use to determine those things that drive you each and every day? The best tool I’ve found to help discover your passion is to ask (and answer!) questions. Before we get to the questions, let’s define what your passion is (and isn’t!)
Passion(s) are Internal
Contrary to many websites, I define passions as your internal values. Passions won’t ever be external.Passions are things that you intrinsically value. Examples of passions:
- Helping Others
- Solving Problems
- Having Fun
- Getting it “Just Right”
- Getting things Done
Passions ≠ Interests
NASCAR, Technology, the Future, Cooking, Japanese, Reading, Guitar, Knowledge, Travelling … these are examples of interests and are external.
Passion is Motivation
A while ago, my wife and I tried to figure out how to motivate one of my sons. He needed a good ‘kick in the pants’ to get him to do things. At first, we thought money would be a great motivator. After further discussion, we realized it wasn’t money, but rather what money could do for him: help him have fun! His passion was about having fun. When we began to couch tasks, chores, and activities in terms of ‘having fun’ we began to see a huge uptick in his motivation.
One of the tools I’ve found to help define your passions divides people into 6 different groups:
- R = Realistic people are DOERS. Realistic people like to work with their hands, either with plants and animals or tools. They like to fix things.
- I = Investigative people are THINKERS. Investigative people like to analyze data and solve problems. They usually prefer to work independently.
- A = Artistic people are CREATORS. Artistic people often enjoy making things or performing in front of other people. They like flexibility in their lives.
- S = Social people are HELPERS. Social people like to work with other people, often on teams. They enjoy counseling or caring for others.
- E = Enterprising people are PERSUADERS. Enterprising people like to start projects and make decisions. They often enjoy selling things or managing other people.
- C = Conventional people are ORGANIZERS. Conventional people like structured jobs. They enjoy working with numbers and instructions. They often organize data and write reports.
Find your RIASEC scores
This free assessment (courtesy of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education) will quickly help you determine your RIASEC score. Do it. It’ll be a quick 3 minute assessment and will also point you towards careers that use those passions.
Four Questions to Get You Started
I’ve found four questions that can help you discover your interests. Each question is one that requires a bit of thinking and introspection. Don’t expect to have the answer to each right away! However, if you take some time and begin to answer these questions, I believe you’ll quickly be able to determine those externalities that motivate you each day.
What things are you most proud of when you’re done?
The next time you feel energized and strong and like the best version of yourself — the you that you wish you could be all the time — pay attention to what you’re doing in that moment. Write it down. Do this for as long as it takes until you see a pattern emerging. It won’t necessarily be the activities themselves — but they will have something in common. Look into them and behind them until you find what dramatists call a throughline: the essence of what you’re good at and what drives you.
What do you love to do?
Revisit your childhood. What did you love to do?
“It’s amazing how disconnected we become to the things that brought us the most joy in favor of what’s practical,” says Rob Levit, an Annapolis, Md.-based creativity expert, speaker and business consultant.
Levit suggests making a list of all the things you remember enjoying as a child. Would you enjoy that activity now? For example, Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s greatest architect, played with wooden blocks all through childhood and perhaps well past it.
“Research shows that there is much to be discovered in play, even as adults,” Levit says.
What is it that you’d still do, even if you weren’t getting paid?
Follow Your Excitement
With all of the self improvement and new age rhetoric you hear out there about “following your passion”, what most people don’t talk about are the actual mechanics of how this all works. Rather than thinking of some big project or career (which in actuality is jumping too far ahead), you need to focus on small steps that you can immediately take that will set up a scenario for one of the X-Factors that I teach: synchronicity.
It’s through synchronicity that will allow the pieces of the puzzle to all start to come together. When you look at the story of any successful person, you will see that it was some small tinkering, a book, a class, or something that seemed “insignificant” that led to their ultimate success.
What ignites your curiosity?
It’s important to follow your curiosity and uncover your less obvious interests. The reason it’s important is that those interests tap into your unique motivations that separate you from others. Pursuing them sets you on the path of unlocking who you are and your creativity. Frequently, these will be things that do not appear pragmatic and sometimes may seem downright frivolous.
Discovering your passions won’t be something you accomplish in one hour of introspection. Hopefully, the tools and resources listed will start giving you pointers in the right direction. This is a process that will take months and be refined over time. You need to begin now.
Leave a comment! What are some of your passions?