I don’t have a passion.
I work as an auditor. I chose a safe major in school which led to a safe career path. I’m good at what I do, but it doesn’t make me feel alive.
Every day I feel a little more anxious because I haven’t found my passion. Four or five nights a week I wake up, without fail, apprehensive and scared.
I worry that I’ll never find my calling. I want to follow my passion, but I don’t know what that is.
What am I doing wrong?
Teachers, leaders, mentors, and family members encourage us to do what we love. The message is everywhere. On television. At Harvard commencement speeches. In Ted Talks. “Do what makes you come alive,” they say.
What if nothing comes to mind?
I don’t have a passion. There isn’t one thing that make me come alive. At least not in the way those public speakers make it sound.
I have a wide variety of interests. I love sports. I enjoy learning and helping others. I find psychology and entrepreneurship fascinating. But I wouldn’t say I’m passionate about any one of those things.
The problem with finding your passions
The educational system
The education system don’t foster students’ passions.
The educational model is the same system that popped up during the industrial revolution. Kids spend the six or seven hours per day in a class room, performing academic drills in math, science, and English.
As a result of this model, we don’t foster children’s natural creativity.
Sir Ken Robinson talked about this in his popular Ted Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” Robinson believes that we are all born with “immense, natural, creative abilities” which “slip away as we get older.”
Instead of nurturing creative abilities, we devote equal time to specific academic areas every day.
Robinson believes that the educational system is too standardized. He’s right. Everyone learns differently, but school doesn’t foster to these individual differences.
Standardized testing overrules creative activities. Teachers are evaluated based on how many students they can get to pass a test.
Administrators don’t nurture creativity. You can’t measure creativity. You can’t put a number on it. You can’t rank students and pay teachers based on the creative ability of their students.
Students are steered away from their passions
According to Robinson, students are steered away from their passions and interests in the current educational system.
The educational system is a factory learning environment. You plug students into the system, teach them up, and send them on their way. This one size fits all system kills passions.
If an 8 year old kid loves science, they aren’t encouraged to spend more time on science. Instead, they have to take the same classes in equal parts for over a decade of their life.
Then they go to college and focus on what their passionate about (if they haven’t developed a distain for education yet). But they still have to go through 2 years of prerequisites so that they are “well-rounded” citizens.
As a result, children and driven away from their passions by taking a decade and a half of the same classes instead of focusing on what they love.
Dreams Crushed at a Young Age
“You can’t make a living doing that.”
“No one will pay you to paint or play music.”
“There’s too much competition.”
Parents who do this stunt, and even destroy, a child’s growth. It discourages natural curiosity and tells people not to follow their passions because they’re not realistic.
This leads to the wrong focus. Get a safe job so that you can pay the bills. Get a job that is well-paying and well-respected. Parents push their kids to go to medical or law school so that they can have a successful life.
That’s what happened to Eric Reed. Eric was a successful lawyer who had everything you could imagine. He had a fancy house, nice car, and could buy almost anything you could imagine.
But Eric was working crazy hours. I’m talking 12 to 14 hours a day. When Eric wasn’t sleeping he was working. He hardly saw his family and was unfulfilled with life.
Eric did everything that you’re supposed to do. He got a respected job. He could buy anything he wanted. But he still wasn’t happy.
Eric isn’t alone. Many people face this same struggle. I know because I’m facing that struggle. I picked a job that was safe and pays well. But I don’t love it.
Eric broke free from his shackles. He followed his passion and became a travel writer. Now if only I could do that…
Misconception of Passion
Passion is a strong term. For me, starting with passion isn’t a good place to begin. I don’t feel passionate about anything in particular.
I think maybe the word itself is the cause for a lot of anxiety.
So what do I do since I don’t feel like I have a passion?
Pick One Thing and Move in That Direction
What interests you today? For me, it’s writing, entrepreneurship, and psychology. These are areas that I pursue a little every day.
I don’t expect to make money from these interests right now, and that’s okay. Because I enjoy these things already, I don’t need to make money.
Dive Deep in What You Like
What area do you really like? What are you interested in at the moment? Dive deep into that area.
Discover everything you can about that area. Read about it. Talk to people who work in it. Study it. And finally, become that area.
Take music for example. If I become really passionate about music, I would first start to play an instrument and understand music theory.
I would talk to other musicians and get their advice. I would hire a coach or teacher to help me become better. And I would practice every single day.
What if I lose interest?
I talk to other musicians and take lessons for six months. But don’t feel as interested in music as I did before. Now what?
Naturally, I would move on. It’s a simple as that! It’s okay to quit something that you thought you were more interested in at one point in time.
You are searching for your passion (or something like it). Don’t pursue something that you don’t want to do anymore. It isn’t a life sentence. Don’t be afraid to quit.
Move on to the next thing
Move on to whatever interests you next. Pursue this thing until you lose interest. Or continue to pursue it as long as you enjoy it.
It’s okay to quit what you are doing and move on to the next thing. One of two things will happen: you will find what brings you to life or you will add tools to the toolbox for the future.
When you pursue diverse interests, you become proficient in different areas.
Let’s say I’m interested in music for a few months but eventually get bored. I become interested in psychology and marketing. Then I become extremely interested in computers.
After becoming proficient in those areas, I could take all of this knowledge and combine it into one new idea. After all, that’s how many of the great careers or products began.
Doing many things before finding “the one”
One person who’s done a number of things before finding his true calling is Robert Greene.
Greene said that he worked 80 jobs before becoming a best-selling author. He previously worked as a construction worker, screenwriter, and hotel receptionist.
He learned a lot from those jobs. He worked many crappy jobs with crappy people and was able to take everything he learned and make something out of it. This ultimately led to him writing The 48 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction.
That’s what I strive to do
I follow my interests in my free time, working on them a little bit here and there as I can. I pick a path and go down that path as far I want. There will be detours along the way. There already have been. And that’s okay with me.
I don’t get paid for what I’m pursuing right now, and that’s fine.
I don’t make money from writing, but I do it because I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of researching and writing and expressing my thoughts.
I don’t have a passion. But lately I haven’t been waking up in the middle of the week worrying.
I pursue what interests me in my free time. If these interests amount to something down the road, great! If not, at least I’m doing something I enjoy in my free time and staying productive.
What do you think? Have you found your passion? What did your journey look like?