Work isn’t supposed to be fun.
Working a draining 9 to 5 is necessary to get by.
Actually finding fulfillment in work is a myth.
Have you ever felt this way?
You’re not alone. Our culture has been fed the lie for far too long that work isn’t meant to be meaningful or satisfying.
Here’s the truth: We were all created to fill a unique role. You are needed. And you must do it. There is someone out there who needs you to be you.
So, how do you make the kind of contribution to this world that you were created to make? By doing work you’re passionate about.
Why Passion Is Important
Passion is one of those words that will either make you roll your eyes because you’re a “realist” who believes work is just supposed to be work, or overwhelm you because it’s too big and complex to ever figure out.
But if you have either of those two mindsets, you’re going to stay stuck in a job you hate and add to the number of Americans (70%!) who are dissatisfied with their work.1 Do you want to be that person? I sure don’t!
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Folks, you don’t have to live that way. It is possible to be passionate about the work that you do, and it is possible to live a life where you don’t dread Monday mornings. The best way to do that is to first discover what you’re passionate about. Because without knowing your passion, you’ll wander aimlessly from job to job and stay stuck.
Before we break down how to find your passion, let’s make sure we’re not confusing it with anything else.
What Your Passion Is Not
When considering what you’re passionate about, I want to make sure you know we’re not talking about:
- Hobbies (at least not in this case): In this article, we’re talking about and discovering your professional passion. This is one of my passions because, according to the book Happiness at Work, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work—and I refuse to believe that we’re all destined to spend that many hours in misery.
- Skills or talents: These are important and can sometimes be related to your passion, but not always. Being good at something doesn’t always mean you’re passionate about it, so don’t focus all of your energy on things like Excel proficiency.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about strategies you should try when you’re wrestling with how to find your passion.
What Is My Passion?
There are three basic questions I always ask when helping people identify the kind of work that would make them come alive every morning.
But before you get started on these questions, I need you to get out of your head and into your heart. Put away anything and everything you’ve been programmed to believe since entering the “real world,” and instead keep an open mind to what you (not your parents or your siblings or anyone else in your life) truly desire to do.
Deal? Okay, let’s get started:
1. Who do I most want to help?
I get callers on my show every day who tell me, “Ken, I just want to help people.” This is true for most of us because wanting to contribute and make a difference is one of the most basic qualities that makes us human.
The important thing here is to get specific. What group of people do you want to help? Do you want to help underprivileged youth? Overwhelmed CEOs? Marketers who are struggling to find customers? The possibilities are endless.
2. What problem do I most want to solve?
Once you know what group of people you want to help, it’s time to nail down what specific problem you most want to help them solve.
Maybe you want to help underprivileged youth apply for scholarships so they can attend college debt-free. Or maybe you want to help overwhelmed CEOs learn how to get organized and delegate their responsibilities. Or perhaps you want to help marketers with great products turn their email subscribers into paying customers.
Whatever solution you want to provide, make sure it’s specific enough that you can clearly define and communicate it.
3. What solution do I most want to provide?
Sometimes your passion doesn’t come from a specific problem you want to solve, but from a specific solution you want to provide. In other words, you may not care what problem you’re solving as long as you get to speak to an audience, publish an article, or increase sales for an organization.
The solution—or end result—you dream about producing is a great indicator of what you’re passionate about. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to do some digging:
- What do you love to create?
- What results move you?
- What products or services excite you?
Get super specific here and note that the answers to questions two and three can sometimes feel similar and interconnected—that’s okay!
Once you’ve written down your answers to these three questions—and you should absolutely be writing them down—it’s time to start looking for patterns and themes you can tie together.
For example, if you want to help underprivileged youth find scholarships for college, and you’ve always loved public speaking, then your solution might look like hosting seminars at local high schools.
If you want to help overwhelmed CEOs get organized and learn to delegate, and you’re a really great writer, then your solution might be to launch a blog that gives these CEOs the content they need to get organized.
If you want to help marketers get more customers, and you love to rally people together, then your solution might be to find a leadership role at a company that sells something you value where you can mentor and train marketers.
See folks, finding your passion is not as complicated and daunting as it sounds. It all comes down to asking yourself a series of questions that will help you notice patterns and themes in your life. These patterns and themes will usually point to people groups you deeply care about, problems you’re passionate about, and solutions you’re capable of providing.
Once you’ve answered these questions and jotted down notes of any patterns you’re noticing, make sure to get feedback from people you love and trust who will speak truth to you. Many times, those around us will see passions in us that we’re not even aware of!
Need more help nailing down your passion? Try my free Career Clarity Guide. It's a worksheet designed to help you define your top talents, passion and mission so that you can take bold steps towards your next big opportunity.
What Does It Look Like to Be Passionate About Your Work?
There are many other indicators you can keep an eye out for when discovering if the work you have in mind is actually what you’re passionate about. Let’s name a few.
When you’re passionate about the work you’re doing:
- Time will fly by when you’re engaged in it.
- You’ll look forward to it before you begin. In the middle of it, you’ll feel exhilarated. And when you finish, you’ll feel proud of whatever you created or produced.
- You won’t mind “suffering” for it. You’ll work hard for it, do whatever it takes to accomplish the task, and stay with it for the long run.
One of my favorite exercises to do with people I’m coaching, and that I want you to try right now, is to ask this one question: If you knew there was no risk—if you were guaranteed success—what would you try tomorrow? Don’t think about it too long, just blurt it out!
So, what is that for you?
Passion is not just for artists, and it’s not just for “dreamers.” We all have the right and the responsibility to do work we’re passionate about—because that’s what we were created to do.
Keep working through these questions and exercises. Make lots of lists. Ask people you love and trust, and who will speak truth to you, for feedback.
And don’t forget that you can tune in to The Ken Coleman Show every weekday and even contact me with your questions at 844.747.2577 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m confident that, when you do this, you’ll be well on your way to living and working like no one else.
You matter, and you have what it takes. Press on!