How to discover your passions
Ever felt like your life had no purpose or movement? Have you ever asked yourself these questions: What on earth am I here for? What am I supposed to be doing with my time here? What’s my calling? What’s that one thing that’s going to fulfill me and allow me to feel like I’m making a difference?
If you’re human, these questions are natural. In Viktor E. Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he posits that people need a purpose that guides them like a compass in order to derive meaning and fulfillment from their life. No one wants to feel like they’re here by accident or happenstance or that life is just a series of inconsequential events between birth and death. No, we want purpose! We crave it.
But our life’s purpose, or calling, differs from person to person. I might be called to write novels that touch people’s lives. You might be called to make documentaries about world hunger. Another person might be called to teach music to children, or to add beauty to the world with their paintings or music.
I can’t try on someone else’s calling and expect it to fit me because we all have a unique design. You can think of it as the relationship between keys and locks. We’re all keys, crafted in a one-of-a-kind way, and in this case, we can’t be duplicated. We each pair brilliantly with a particular lock (purpose, calling). When lock and key come together, a new future is opened up before us brimming with excitement, adventure, and tons of joy.
So we clearly need purpose. Now how do we find it?
There is a proverb that says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” In this case, we can equate heart with passion. This proverb is basically telling us to guard [look after, protect, keep, regard] your passion because it will be your source of life [energy, enthusiasm, growth, liveliness, zest].
To illustrate this, think of a bottomless well that’s full of everything that you want to feel in life: meaning, fulfillment, purpose, excitement, vivacity, etc. Now think of your passion as the bucket that you lower into the well each day for a new filling of those things. It’s that simple! Your passion is the vehicle you’re going to use to start pursuing your purpose-filled life!
How to discover your passions? This is the fun part.
I have a story character named Noah Capet, an 18-year-old who has a tendency to feel like his life’s nothing worth bragging about. Can you relate? When he compares himself to others who are doing stellar things, he comes up short. He beats himself up over not achieving as much as his all-star siblings and he’s convinced that maybe he’s just not good at anything at all! He also has no clue where his ideal place would be in the world. In fact, he couldn’t tell you what he’s passionate about if his own life depended on it. The poor boy just doesn’t know what he likes or what he’s good at.
Fortunately for Noah, his best friend Gabriel came up with a solution, and it’s a solution I present to you with the fullest enthusiasm. Gabriel enlisted himself as Noah’s drill sergeant in all things hobby-related. Noah may not know what he’s good at but Gabriel’s determined to help him figure it out. How? Good ol’ trial and error.
Introducing: The List. If you’re like Noah and you just don’t know what revs up your engine, don’t sweat it. Go to your favorite search engine and type in “list of hobbies”. Then have fun printing some out. Next, break out the calendar and start adding hobbies to your free hours. Now with the rise of online coupon sites, you can find incredible deals for all kinds of activities/hobbies so be sure to check those out, too.
After you strategize and plan, it’s time to have fun! I’ve used this method several times with wonderful results. I’ve tried things I otherwise wouldn’t give a second glance to only to find out that I not only enjoyed the activity but that I was good at it as well (from dance classes to trying my hand at online cooking tutorials, it’s been a blast)! You may very well find some new hobbies that you can turn to for stress relief or to unwind after a long day.
The thing to remember is to not get bummed out if something on your list doesn’t work out. That’s just the beauty of trial and error. Some things you’ll love. Some things you’ll be able to live without. Just check it off if it’s something you’d like to consider again in the future or cross it out if it didn’t float your boat (you can even color code your list: green highlighter for things that are a ‘go’ for the future and a red highlighter for STOP! NEVER AGAIN!).
I periodically teach a class based on the book SHAPE by Erik Rees. It’s all about finding and fulfilling your unique purpose in life. In the chapter about discovering your passion, Erik offers some insightful questions you can begin asking yourself in order to hone in on that one thing (or two or three or more things) that’s going to be central to your life’s purpose: What needs in people or in the world do you want to meet? What lessons do you have to share with others? What causes do you want to conquer? What issues make your heart race? If time and money weren’t an issue, what dream would you spend the rest of your life trying to fulfill?
Make your List of new activities/hobbies to try and then do some soul searching with the above questions to begin discovering what your passions are. Remember, when you do, you’ve got the tool you need to get more out of life than you thought possible!
In the comments below, tell me about any insight you received from this article. Have you made a list similar to Gabriel’s before? If so, what were some new passions you discovered? If not, what are some new activities you’re excited to try out? What dream do you so want to fulfill? Make a commitment to finding out by putting it in writing in the comments below!