5 Ways to Quit the Confusion & Find Your Passion

What are you passionate about?

I asked this question in my last post about life, death and passion.

Amidst the responses here and in my inbox from people who knew what they loved and wanted, were some who didn’t.

I don’t believe there’s a single person on Earth who ISN’T passionate, who didn’t have a dream growing up.

But somewhere along the line, you lost sight.

Except, you didn’t really.

Something happened.

Something that scared you into hiding your dreams deep inside, safe from the world, from anyone who might crush them before they’ve had a chance to come true.

  • Maybe you got laughed at or told to grow up
  • Maybe you went after something you wanted and failed, so gave up
  • Maybe you do know what you want but are too afraid to say it out loud
  • Or they seem too small / big / silly / outrageous / normal
  • Maybe you hide them because you want something you think you shouldn’t

A major reason you can get stuck answering this question is thinking that you need to have one answer for this.

Find that one overriding passion you can dedicate your life to, to find your ‘purpose’ in life.

Being a multipassionate person, it’s no wonder you struggle with this!

Because you’re looking for THE passion.

Which mostly doesn’t exist.

Life isn’t always about finding the ‘ultimate’ passion, it could be about living out all of them in varying degrees. Choosing what feels good, what feels resonant with you. Deciding what you want to experience next.

Like I said in that post about passion – the happiest people in the world are those who have a goal/dream and are making progress towards it.

Why is this so important?

Because a life without dreams, a life without passion is half a life. It leads to regrets and sadness. And btw, when I say passion I don’t just mean things like social activism or jumping out of planes – it could be something as ‘simple’ as reading or walking!

Your passions are very personal and unique to you, even if others share the same passions cos how you interpret them and bring them into your life is something only you can do.

Oh and your dreams, your desires are 10000% valid JUST because you have them. You do NOT have to defend them to anyone, or feel guilty about wanting what you want, k?

There’s no time like the present to get started. So here are 5 ways to help you find, own and live your passionate life out loud.

1) Ask the right questions:

  • What makes you smile?
  • What makes you lose time?
  • What comes naturally to you?
  • What can’t you stop talking about?
  • What are you really awesome at doing?
  • If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?
  • What would you do for free because you love it so much?
  • If you had 12 months to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now?

Yeah but … thoughts are starting to pop up, aren’t they? Listen, just for now, ignore the voice that says ‘this is impractical’ or ‘this will never happen’. Send it out for a walk.

Then grab a journal or piece of paper and start answering these questions. Give yourself a chunk of time or a few minutes of ‘fantasy’ time a day to do this. That’s how you let go of the practicalities for the moment. No BUTS allowed.

2) Think about a time when you felt the happiest & most alive!

Describe the scene. What was happening? Who were you with? What were you doing? What was being said about / to you? How were you feeling? What did you love about that moment?

Eg: A time I felt really alive was when I was in Delhi with my friends and we all jumped into a car in the middle of the night and drove into the city to get ice-cream at India Gate. We’d been hanging out at a friend’s place laughing and talking and someone suggested we go for a joyride. It was so spontaneous and fun, we laughed ALL the way, sang songs in the car and ribbed each other. I felt completely fulfilled, joyous, connected.

From this I get that I am passionate about fun, community and connection and any work that I do has to have these elements in them for me to feel truly alive and living my dream.

I’m also really happy when I am sipping hot chocolate and reading a book by the window as it rains and thunders outside. What I love about that is how mysterious and beautiful it seems from my cosy warm home.

This shows me that learning, nature and alone time is also important to me. So my  ideal life must somehow incorporate these as well.

3) Go into your childhood

As a child you knew exactly what you wanted. Those weren’t just flights of fancy, they are real clues to finding your passion. If you don’t remember, ask your mom.

If you wanted to be an astronaut, what about it fascinated you? What did you love the most about the idea? Was it the adventure? The unknown? The enormity? The glory? The exclusivity? Start mining for these little pieces of gold.

They hold the keys to what makes you tick.

If you wanted to be a singer or teacher but didn’t have the voice or lost the passion for it, don’t give up hope! Maybe you won’t be a rockstar but you can still have singing in your life in other ways. You could teach singing, join a karaoke club, sing for fun, go to concerts etc. Get creative!

Btw, not every passion has to turn into a living. Thinking that is a big mistake.

Something or someone killed your dreams when you were a child. You are now responsible for bringing them back to life in ways that work for you.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t do something. Not even you. 

4) Mine for Values

How you do one thing is how you do everything. You may not have realised it but everything you do in life has to do with your values and belief systems.

value is your moral and personal guide and compass to life.
A belief i
s a premise that you hold as truth, whether it is or not.

Together, these 2 are what determine how you live your life, respond, react, communicate, think and act. Eg: having a value of say, adventure, would tell you that you’re passionate about new experiences, learning and using certain skills.

Knowing this comes in handy when it comes to the kind of life and career you choose.

Don’t know what your values are? Start here with this list of values by Steve Pavlina and write down the ones that speak to you. Another way to do it is to create your own.

After all, this is your life – you get to live it your way and that includes deciding what values you want to prioritise. If everything you say and do is based on your values and beliefs, wouldn’t YOU rather be in charge of creating empowering ones instead of subconsciously being run by them?

5) Look into the Future 

Imagine your life 10 years down the line. If you kept doing what you’re doing today, believing what you believe today, would you be happy where you end up? Or is there something you need to change?

The things you want to do today that scare you – if you never did them, would you regret them in 10 years? 5? 1?

If so, I want you to read this:

There are the top 5 regrets of terminally ill patients: 

I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
I wish I didn’t work so hard
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
I wish that I had let myself be happier

(source: Inspiration and Chai)

Which one of these regrets sounds like you?

It’s not too late to start living the life you want, not the life you think you should have. It never is.

If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” – Alan Armstrong.

I want to know: What’s your dream? How did you find your passion? Please leave a comment, thanks!

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    • says

      LOVE the list, DM! I love how clear and passionate your answers are. Can you share some of them here so others can have the pleasure of reading them too? Thanks so much for playing this full out – you rock!

      • says

        Sure! Didn’t want to clutter up your comments, but since you asked, I’d be delighted to!

        1. What makes you smile?

        Birds. Time travel.

        2. What makes you lose time?

        Web design. Writing. Creating games. Having a good conversation with a friend.

        3. What comes naturally to you?

        Writing. Spirituality/Philosophy. Interpersonal communication skills.

        4. What can’t you stop talking about?

        Maui. Religion/Spirituality/Philosophy. Making movies. Personal growth and development. The importance of following your dreams, living with unconditional love, relationships, personal growth, the meaning of life, doing what you’re passionate about, etc.

        5. What are you really awesome at doing?

        Writing. Facing fears. Quickly, cheaply, and easily moving to another part of the country. Managing money and sticking to a budget. Talking with, connecting to, and getting people to open up. Natural insight into motivations, emotions, psychology, etc — often when even the person him/herself isn’t yet aware. I learn new things very quickly, am always learning, and retain most of it in the future. I have a very good conceptual/abstract thinking/understanding. And I’m told I’m very good at simplifying difficult and/or abstract concepts and explaining them in easy-to-understand ways for everyone else; i.e., I’m a great teacher.

        6. If you knew you could not fail, what would you do?

        Build a time machine. Build my own entertainment production studio. Meet my soulmate and spend a whirlwind life romantic adventure with her. Invest in startups companies, stocks/options, real estate, and other things — growing a large portfolio, and using that wealth not only to better my own life, but make the world a better place too.

        7. What would you do for free because you love it so much?

        Anything creative, especially if I’m part of a creative team, working on a larger multimedia entertainment project (movie, game, etc). Working with other creative people, in person, is really important. But I love working creatively independently too. I just strongly prefer working with others too.

        8. If you had 12 months to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now?

        Yeah, I think so. I’d maybe travel more, to see and be with more of my friends, which are currently scattered all over the country and world. But other than that — I’m living on Maui, and grateful every day. I’m paid to be a writer. I have free time. My connection and relationship with God is improving. I’m healthy and enjoy all the nature and beauty around me. I have lots of room to grow in my chosen career path. The only thing I want to change right now is being around people more. (I work from home and live by myself.) I need to be connecting, in person, with people more. That’s it. Really.

        • says

          I freakin love your answers! It’s never cluttering, it might just inspire someone else to do theirs :) We learn by example and it can be life changing to answer these questions. Thanks so much David!

        • Nicole says

          This is such a fantastic piece! It has helped me and inspired me so much! I am very grateful to have come across this article today as well as your responses to the life questions. Very inspiring!

  1. says

    I really liked your point about not having just *one* thing you’re passionate about. I think we get that message a lot in this world — that you have to be really specific, or have a niche, etc. My interests have always been wide and varied — they’ve shifted throughout my life as well. (And as an introvert, there’s always a lot going on inside my head!)

    Just a couple of weeks ago I stumbled on to the fact that I’m passionate about two things: social media and museums. And now I’m figuring out how to make a business out of it. I can lose hours quite happily doing this; it’s worthwhile, especially for small museums that don’t understand social media yet; and since social media is still in some respects in its infancy, I can always be learning new things even while I’m helping others.

    Very inspiring post!

    • says

      Susan, did you read the Scanner post? I think you’ll find the comments really useful http://www.yourlifeyourway.net/2011/04/21/a-scanners-resume-how-to-tell-if-youre-one/!

      Kudos on that clarity, and yes there’s a lot you can do with those two. Hey are you open to a suggestion? How about a brainstorming session – get some friends together for an hour or so, let them bring their ideas, you bring the cupcakes.

      Tell them your dream, the obstacles surrounding it and let them throw out ideas and solutions, no matter how improbable they seem. Have one person writing down the ideas. Don’t discard any, look for the gold in them!

      This will get you thinking about different ways to bring the two together with an open mind while having tons of fun. If you do this, I would love to hear what comes up for you. Thanks so much for sharing!

      ps: Got the idea from one of Barbara Sher’s books “I could do anything if I only knew what it was” Excellent book, I highly recommend it along with Wishcraft and Refuse to Choose.

  2. says

    The trouble I seem to have is that I have too many passions. But maybe that’s my passion in itself. The pursuit of knowledge, bettering myself, reaching for more and touching lives! It’s an “inclusive” passion of sorts. Sub-passions of mine would have to be music, business, writing, tennis, family & traveling. So many more, but those are just a few.

  3. says

    TIA!! Amazing post, love! I am always saying that I think one of the worst emotions we can experience in life is the feeling of regret. I am always encouraging everyone I know/work with (inluding myself!) to live in a way that you will have no regrets. I know that if I am always proud of the woman I am and how I’ve “shown up” in all situations, I’m golden! Thanks for such a great read! Party on, friend.

    • says

      Thanks Amy! Yeah, on regrets .. I read somewhere once that the % of google searches for “I should have kissed her/him” vs “I shouldn’t have” was about 90%:10%. Go figure.

  4. says

    Inspiring article. When I was young my passion was art – and apparently I was pretty good. Unfortunately I was also extremely introverted on top of a troubled family situation, and even though I was awarded an art scholarship I opted to get a ‘real’ job to escape home. I still find ways to indulge my creative muscle, but I am determined to revisit my original passion sooner rather than later.

    • says

      Marquita – I’m heartened to hear that the dream didn’t die completely and you’re still finding ways to have art/creativity in your life. The sooner the better my friend, the sooner the better. LOVE your avatar btw – creative and fun :) Thanks for keeping the passion alive.

  5. says

    Hi Tia – just saw your link to this post pop up on Facebook – hope it’s still OK to answer your question.

    Me, I’m passionate about writing. Well, communication in general, really. I’ve always loved it, ever since I was little, and used to write stories for my parents (and my stuffed toys, and my friends, and my… well, you get the idea)

    I have a lot (and I mean a *LOT*) of other passions beyond that – I definitely identify with the “multipassionate” label you’ve created. But writing… writing has always been my big love

    • says

      It’s ALWAYS okay to respond to a post :D Thank you for doing so Tanja! I find it fascinating how we’re all so compelled to write .. or maybe it’s the awesomesauce people here. Even in multi-passionates, there are different types (but, of course!). Some have 1-2 major passions, some have changing passions, some are cyclical etc. Appreciate you sharing, love!

  6. says

    It sounds like a cliche because so many other people seem to say the same thing, but my passion is writing. As a child, I would spend hours on my bedroom floor, my head buried in a book. I loved fantasy, things that would make my imagination go into overdrive. I longed to be the next Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton.

    But I never thought my own writing could be good enough to publish. I used to try and write stories or songs, and end up feeling disappointed with the results. But without realising it, I’ve continued writing nonetheless. I’ve started numerous blogs over the years, and I spend an awful lot of time reading the writing of others in books, newspaper columns and blogs. I’m starting to think that maybe, if I try my hardest, writing could be something I get to do for a living after all…

    There’s nothing wrong with hoping, right? :)

    • says

      I reckon it’s cos we ALL have a story to tell, and writing is the easiest (not always though, ha!) form of self expression. And BECCA! You just took me back to MY childhood talking about Enid Blyton. I am so excited you mentioned her – NO ONE I know in Canada has heard of her and she was such a huge part of my life growing up. I like you already :D

      Not just if you try your hardest, but if you allow yourself to be guided by your muse and be lit up by your passion for expression and just … write whatever needs and wants to be written.

      When you’re on a mission, it’s irresistible. Be the artist!

      • says

        I loved Enid Blyton! The Famous Five made me long to go on wild adventures :)

        Thank you for the words of motivation. It’s so easy for me to be despondent and to pour cold water on my own dreams. Society tells us that work should be something to endure, not enjoy. I almost feel selfish and foolish for daring to dream of something bigger and better for myself.

        • says

          Don’tttttttt!! Don’t feel foolish! Think of the Wright brothers – if they had worried about that, who knows how much longer it would have taken us to fly! Be a maverick!

        • says

          Beca I know how you feel. I too have a deep seated desire to write BUT a fear that what I write won’t be good enough! However I take heart from Tia’s words that our passion doesn’t have to become a business and so I write because I want to – if anyone enjoys my words then that’s the icing on the cake. So write away and ENJOY yourself.

  7. Shriya says

    Wow..this is really inspiring! Thank you for taking the time to write it :) I honestly don’t have a lot of things I’m passionate about though.. I’m hoping someday I’ll be able to find some stuff I’m afraid it’ll be too late then though ! Argh!! So many fears lol

    • says

      Shriya, did you explore the questions for yourself? I highly recommend that! There is NO SOMEDAY – there is only today. Please don’t put it off and regret at the end of your days.

      • Shriya says

        Thank you for the motivation! you are so right, I guess I was putting off exploring the queestions thorougly because in a way I think I might not have a passion, but I’ll definitly do it so no regrets! thanks for replying!

        • says

          Errr.. I don’t for a SECOND believe that you don’t have a passion – thing is, we make entirely too much about passion .. it is whatever you love to do! Do it, and do it again a few weeks later. Feel free to come back and tell me what came up, or email me!

  8. Jesse Kyser says

    So, I started reading your blog because I found it on google. Im a police officer and I work the night shift. Frankly, I hate my job – BUT I’m in the process of going to school to change what I do! Just reading your stuff really brings a smile to my face and makes my day better! I’m only 23 (I think I’m an old man) and I really like how you say life is about pursing many passions vs. one big one. Have you written a book? I’m sure you’d make the top sellers if you did! Anyway, thanks for the words!

    • says

      Ahhh Jesse! You’re a seeker, my friend. You’re welcome, glad you found YLYW! Haven’t written a book yet but it’s a childhood dream and I will in the next few years – watch out for it ;)! Listen, check out the book Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher – it’s amazing (all about multi-passionate people with too many passions to choose). I’m sure you’ll find it enlightening. Hope to see you around, take care!

  9. Shubhanjali says

    Hey!! you wrote a great post. I stumbled upon it just when i was needing it.
    I am so irritated and sad due to this continuous thought war in my head “what is my passion?” and i think it began just after i felt i am no kid anymore….while in my childhood, i used to do what i loved, and succeeded too. then life grew up faster than me….lot of family problems and ppl whom i love, made me stop thinking about my passion. i got a job, a prestigious one, paying high…..but right after the celebration of job was over and it became an old news, i realized that i have trapped myself. Now responsibilities have made permanent home in my life, can’t leave the job….have completed one year in this job, somehow, and dying to follow my passion. and the biggest urge inside my heart since the time I was able to understand things….is “to gift this world something that is timeless, and makes people love me even after my life”. OK now, the question comes…..i love writing, singing, painting, photography, crafts, dancing, meeting with new people, knowing about the unexplored truths of world, ancient methods and beliefs, magic, psychic knowledge (tarot reading – have initial knowledge), traveling……and phew!! now I see only one way and that is to follow all……..what say?

  10. Emma says

    OMG, thank you thank you THANK YOU!!! I have been stumbling through life wondering what the hell I should do for the last 15 years or so, since I gave up on all the things I loved to do because I was told that I should be doing this or that. Since becoming a mum I’ve finally started to feel passionate about stuff again, but now I just want to do everything! And have been really struggling to nail down what to focus my energy on. I’m so glad I came across your website. I now have a word for my dilemma – multipassionate – LOVE IT! And don’t feel so stupid and ADD any more, lol :-) And now I realise that I can have everything, and make my own rules, that I don’t have to make all my passions part of my career, I can just choose one little thing to focus on at a time, but don’t have to give anything up! Yippee!!! Maybe now I’ll start to sleep a little better at night. Thank you universe for somehow nudging me to Your Life Your Way! This is exactly what I need right now :-)

  11. Micah says

    My true and ultimate passion is music, but not just music its my ability to sing. When I sing its like the world is a mirror being hit by a sledge. All the pieces shatter and fall to my feet, and im left there all alone. Just me and the beautiful lyrics and sounds I create. Singing is not only my biggest passion, but also my biggest emotional release. It brings on a slew if emotions for me. Everything from Being happy to crying and everything in between. One thing I’ve noticed the most is it feels the absolute best when I cry while I sing.. I feel it places all of my out if whack emotions back into place…

    • Shubhanjali says

      Hi Micah,
      I m really pleased to know that music is your passion. I am also trying to find what my passion is…and i come to meet music on the path of this quest. What kind of music is your area of interest? May I listen some of your songs?

      • Micah says

        Well my favorite genres of music would have to be country and softer rock and of course you can listen to some of my music. Simply search Micah Saxton on youtube, I have a few songs posted.

  12. says

    I believe life can be easier than we often make it, but we ‘humans’ make it difficult. If everyone would pursue their dreams without asking people , especially family members, “What do you think about (fill in the blank)? Should I pursue this or that?” earth would be a much better place to live.

    Please stop asking others for permission and do what you want to do! Yes, you may face obstacles along the way, but you can ‘easily’ get around them with the right attitude. Life doesn’t have to be an uphill battle.

  13. says

    Bang on Tia!! I believe too that every soul on earth has passion…its just for us to find out.
    Each person should live their lives MiNuS the suppression, as each breath taken is a moment engraved or lost…!!

  14. cero says

    this really did help me. my passion lays between comedy and music. i really need to stop tellin myself i cant. i really can after reading all this. thank u

  15. Marguerite says

    I am very glad I stumble upon you. For I am 67 and I have no passion for anything. Reading this site made me cry and I don’t even know why. I love reading and studying the Bible going to church but I feeling so insecure.

  16. Tiffany says

    Thank you for sharing. I am sending this article to my 20 year old sister, and the 28 year old one! The point: It is NEVER to late to discover your passions. You have spelled the journey out perfectly! Namaste <3

  17. karan says

    Its really encouraging rather placating to find out that there are people like me who have interest in number of things……even i am suffering from this….im using a negative notation because in my case it has been more of shackles than mere colors of life.
    I mean to say that sometimes having such varied interests makes you become best at nothing.
    I have varied interest like writing, acting, film making, hospitality services and wait apart from this i sometimes feel like becoming a politician and may be develop some dream city/state/town for people.
    Sometimes i feel like becoming a bureaucrat and enjoy the powers..
    Sometimes i feel like pursuing further management studies as others look unattainable.

    All in all crux of the situation is that right now i am into an engineering job in which i was place after my grad… and now when iv done hell of a blunder at workplace, i do not know which one of my “interest” to follow.

    How would you suggest me what to choose out of them right now ?

    Now, if you tell me do what is most achievable and realistic, then aren’t you asking me compromise with the innocence and that divinity of the dreams ?

    e.g i want to get into NYFA and learn movie making from there and may be then ill start an adivertising company or simply direct movies………then another thought comes to my mind ” No Mr. you cannot afford the fees and more over you have no actual experience of the same, apart from those lonely bathroom acts in front of the mirror, or those freaking idea which you never faired.”

    I don’t know tia, ur words do seems to encouraging but how to make this “multi-interest” thing work for you… how to get fun out of it….how to just follow it fearlessly ….how to make bread out of it….what to call yourself..a free lancer …jack of all trades .OR .A STRUGGLER …?

  18. SARAB says

    i like music i like to party..i like new thing alot..i dont like to do same work again n again.i like creativity……wot shud i do ?

  19. Courtney says

    (before reading this, be warned I am a normal girl, but I do have a minor anxiety disorder.)

    I’m only 15. In my life right now, I know what I am supposed to do. I know how I am supposed to behave, but I don’t know how to dedicate my life to something I love. My parents are very strict, but they let me make my own decisions. I say what goes. Honestly, it intimidates me half to death. They buy cameras, gear, tools, books, and movies and more just to help me find my “fire” so I can really experience passion. It scares the crap out of me. I want to try for a scholarship (for sports), but I don’t know, I guess I just struggle with the idea. I sacrifice a lot for this “passion”. I just don’t know what to do next.

    I’m not looking for sympathy. I was just inspired by this article and felt the need to share myself.

  20. says

    Hi! I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and finally got the courage
    to go ahead and give you a shout out from Austin Texas!

    Just wanted to mention keep up the good work!

  21. rajesh says

    I was been in confusion of my career to choose what to do after 12th.I am interested in music in the mean while I want to do MBBS.Can I prefer both.Plz get me out from this confusion

  22. Suren says

    Great site.
    I just came to office and asked Google that I am confused and got hold of this site. I am really glad I read this. For more than 10 years I am trying to find ‘What is the one thing that I am really good at? People say whatever I do I do it perfect. But I am not happy. I like reading books, now its stopped. I spend a lot of time in the internet. I hate social networking sites but I like spending time with friends. Many have said that writing the things we seek in a paper and working towards it will eventually come to us. I am going to answer the questions and come out of lazy bed and live a happy successful and wealthy life. Thanks Tia

  23. Irene says

    Good day! This post coould not be written any better!

    Reading through this post reminds me of my good oold room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this page
    to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read.
    Thanks for sharing!

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