“I so want to pursue my passion,” my niece said one day, “but I don’t know what my passion is.”
I talk a lot in this blog about pursuing your passion and living your dream, but if you aren’t sure what that passion is in the first place, well… it’ll be tough to live it.
I can tell you first hand that you need to be absolutely, positively, 100% committed to your dream or you won’t follow through. There will be obstacles and detours in your path and, if you aren’t totally convinced it’s what you want, you’ll either give up or you’ll turn down another, most likely easier, path.
So how do you go about figuring out what your passion is? How can you find that one goal you’re willing to ride to the end of the world for? Here are some ideas to help guide you in figuring that out and then accomplishing what you set out to do.
Things to think about before setting your goal
What are you good at? We’re all good at something. Don’t be modest here – where do you shine? Think about your time at work or school or in clubs. What do you do exceptionally well? It could be something like art or music. It could be something like getting along with people or having the gift of conflict resolution. Chances are your passion will involve using your strengths.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Think about what you do in the evenings or weekends. When you aren’t working, how do you fill your time? It could be stamp collecting or bike riding or making gourmet meals. If you are willing to spend your time doing it for free, then maybe that’s where your passion lay.
Where do you enjoy being? Are you an indoor person or one who loves to be outside? A country gal or city boy? When you let your mind wander, where do you see yourself? Maybe that’s another clue to what your passion is.
What tools do you enjoy using? Think all kinds of tools here: hammer and nails, computer, calculator, paintbrush, needle and thread. What are you drawn to? Do you enjoy using your hands to actually build a physical product or does a virtual product created on the computer excite you more?
Steps to identify your passion and discover your dream
What are the five most important things to you? Sit down and make a list. What are the five most important things to you? These are those things that you absolutely will not compromise on. Making money? Time with your family? Expressing your creative side? Make that list.
Put those five important things in order. Look carefully at that list and figure out which one is number one. This is the thing that you absolutely will not compromise on. Ask yourself: If I had the opportunity to do Thing A but not Thing B, would I do it? Or would I choose Thing B? Whichever one you choose is your number one. Get them ordered 1 – 5.
Define your goal. By now you should have a pretty good idea of what you want to do. Now it’s time to narrow it down. State your goal in one clear, concise sentence. You should be able to say what you’re going to do in five words or less.
OK, so I know what I want to do. How do I do it?
Create a general plan. What are those itty bitty steps you’ll need to do to reach your goal? It’s OK if you leave some out. It’s OK if you leave a whole bunch out. Create a roadmap to your goal by breaking it into as many small steps as you can think of. It might help to start at the end goal and work backwards; it might not. What you’re creating here is an overall plan that may or may not be accurate – you’ll fine tune it as you go.
Decide on a general plan of action. You most likely discovered there were many ways to reach your goal as you created your plan. Now it’s time to decide which route will work best for you. Or maybe I should say, which route you think will work best for you. Be aware things will change once you’re on your way. That’s OK.
Learn from others. Contact others who are doing what you want to do. How did they get there? What obstacles did they have to overcome? What advice do they have? By seeking out others pursuing the same passion as you you’ll accomplish two things: you’ll learn about what you need to do, and you’ll be affirmed that your dream is possible. If others are doing it, you can too.
Surround yourself with others who support your dream. There’s not much worse than hearing how ridiculous your dream is. There will be those who’ll tell you you’re foolish or selfish or ignorant or stupid. Hold tight to your dream and don’t let them drag you away. If you can’t find actual real, living, breathing human beings who support you, find some online. Facebook and Twitter are great places to meet up with people passionate about all kinds of things!
Stay true to your dream. Pursue your passion. Do everything in your power to stay motivated. Put a post-it on your bathroom mirror reminding you of your dream so you see it first thing every morning. Put notes in your lunch bag. Hang a sign on your door or your rearview mirror in your car. Pictures, motivational quotes, or small items to remind you of your dream are all useful tools to help you focus on what you want.
Set a date. When your dream is a “someday” dream, it’s hard to take actual steps to make it happen. Once you’ve got an actual date you’ll do it, things become more real. Set a date and go for it. If it turns out you need to delay it a bit, cross that bridge when you get there, but now commit to a timeline.
Go public. One of the best tools for staying true to the dream is to go public with it. Tell everyone you know what you’re doing and when. I know of many a bike tour that happened because somebody announced to the world they were doing it and then didn’t have the courage to back out. Shout it from the rooftops.
Believe in yourself and in your dream. If you don’t truly believe you can pursue your passion, you’ll be sidetracked by all those little detours you’ll find in your way. Rather than seeking a way around them, you’ll be convinced it’s the end of the line. Know you can accomplish what you set out to do and believe in it.
Keep your goal front and center. Now that you know what you’re going to do, keep that goal at the forefront of your mind. Focus on it. Know that it’ll happen and walk directly toward it. All those other things you would kinda, sorta like to do someday take back burner for now; concentrate fully on achieving your one goal.
Go back to the drawing board. If you somehow manage to hit on the perfect plan the first time, count your lucky stars. For most of us, we’re heading back to the drawing board on a regular basis to tweak and adjust our goal and our plan. It’s all part of the process.
Take baby steps every day. A friend once said that living the dream is taking a million tiny steps all in the same direction. It may seem like the final goal will never happen, but if you’re walking in the right direction, it will. Keep plugging away at it.
Don’t give up. You are most likely closer to success than you think you are. It may seem like you’ll never, ever get where you want to be, but you will. If your dream is big enough, it’ll take many, many tiny baby steps, but they’ll lead you to exactly where you want to be. Remember the beginning is always the hardest.