Not Sure How to "Follow Your Passion?" Try This Instead.
If you’ve spent any time in the personal growth sphere over the last few years, you’ve probably heard the rallying cry to follow your passion. While this advice comes from a well-meaning place, as a coach, I’ve also spoken to plenty of people who have heard this call, want to heed it, but are left with the big question: but what if I don’t know what my passion is?For some people, picking something to be “your passion” can feel like a lot of pressure.First of all, passion is a big word and, while you might have several things you're interested in pursuing further, it might not ring true to say you’re passionate about them. You might also be aware that the thing you’re passionate about right now will probably change. You are constantly evolving (as we all are) and therefore so will your interests and priorities. Perhaps it doesn’t feel right to pick the one thing of things right now and close the door on everything else.And what if you pursue your passion only to discover it's not your passion after all? If you don't have any plan B passions to fall back on, this pressure to find your "one thing" can leave some people afraid to even try. As uncomfortable as procrastination and resistance can feel, these patterns continue because they dangle the carrot of future hope: a time in which you follow your passion and everything is amazing as a result. In this situation, dealing with the discomfort of procrastination and resistance feels less risky than trying and discovering the thing you thought was your "one thing" isn't after all and seeing that carrot of future hope disappear in a puff of smoke.If these concerns resonate with you, I want to share a piece of brilliant advice from author Elizabeth Gilbert. She addresses this issue in her (also brilliant) book Big Magic:
“I am a big advocate for the pursuit of curiosity. You’ve maybe heard me talk about this before? We are constantly being told to pursue our passions in life, but there are times when passion is a TALL ORDER, and really hard to reach. In seasons of confusion, of loss, of boredom, of insecurity, of distraction, the idea of “passion” can feel completely inaccessible and impossible. In such times, you are lucky to be able to get your laundry done (that sometimes feels as high as you can aim) and when someone tells you to follow your passion, you want to give them the middle finger. (Go ahead and do it, by the way. But wait till their back is turned, out of civility.)But curiosity, I have found, is always within reach.”
So if you’re not sure what it looks like to follow your passion?Follow your curiosity instead.Look for the things that speak to you in the everyday. Pursue your interests. Explore the threads that tie seemingly disparate interests and ideas together. Forget conventional wisdom and go where your attention draws you.There is no “right” way to do your most important work and, beyond certain non-negotiable moral aspects, there isn't one "right" way to do life either, so follow your curiosity, have the courage to forge your own path and enjoy seeing where it leads… Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash