If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you’re not exactly sure what to do with yourself.
You see others who are following their dreams of writing, starting a design business, working with animals, or going to school, and you’re wondering why nothing sounds enticing enough for you to pursue.
You’re looking for your passion.
I totally feel where you’re coming from. I was where you were too. In school, I was good at math but didn’t really love it. When I went to law school, I was good at that too, but not enough to enjoy the next 50 years of my life as a lawyer. I needed something to propel me forward. I was tired of wandering around. I needed a purpose. I wanted to find my passion.
That’s why I wrote this post to help you identify what you’re meant to do. Here are 10 strategies that I’ve used to help me find my passion serving female entrepreneurs of color. I hope these will help you identify where to focus your energy.
Understand How Passions Are Formed
Passions are developed. That means that you don’t pick up a tambourine in music class and decide that you are going to play it for the rest of your life. Instead, passions are formed from a series of small exposures.
Take Whoopi Goldberg for instance. When Goldberg was younger, her mom would take her and her brother to cultural performances regularly. Her mother also collected old Hollywood Movies. So Whoopi would rush home every day to watch the famous Hollywood movie stars. Growing up, Whoopi also participated in various community programs including an acting class! There were so many small pieces of exposure to the arts that eventually built up into a singular passion around performance. That’s why it’s important to keep exposing yourself to different things and instead of looking for love at first sight, look for interests that repeatedly catch your attention.
You’ve probably assumed that you must have one true purpose or passion. You’re wrong. There is no one passion. Seriously.
While it may look like some of the most successful people have one true passion, a second glance will easily dispel the myth. Oprah is an amazing media personality. She also enjoys public speaking, reading (Book Club) teaching (Oprah’s Life Class), philanthropy (Oprah Winfrey’s Leadership Academy), organic gardening (Oprah’s Organics), etc. Marie Forleo was a fitness guru, sold online courses, wrote books, and now hosts an online Tv Show. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, has over 400 brands under the Virgin umbrella including an airline, record label, and mobile phone company.
The big takeaway here is to remember you are human. That means you are allowed to love volunteering overseas, technology, marketing, travel, teaching, singing, coaching, and law. You can enjoy all of these things and build a business, or many businesses, that embrace them all. You are allowed to be multi-passionate.
Check out this video on Being Multi-Passionate:
Ask The Right Questions
Instead of asking, “What Is My Purpose?” Ask questions that can help push you in a direction.
How can I help people?
What can I do with my time that is important?
What did I enjoy as a teenager?
What do I dislike?
What do I find embarrassing?
What do I find difficult?
What matters most to me?
Why do I quit things?
What do I like?
The answers to these questions will help you discover things about yourself that may not be obvious. Use the answers to begin crafting a roadmap to finding your passion.
Get Out Of Your Bubble
This is important. What you really enjoy doing, may be something you’ve never even heard of!
For example, I love brainstorming and coming up with ideas to solve problems. What I hate, is the nitty-gritty execution work. It wasn’t until I went to a conference in Boston that I learned about an entirely new (to me) sector of business called strategy and consulting. It was perfect for me and eventually inspired my application to business school.
If you don’t go to events, meet new people, or expose yourself to new environments, you may be missing out on the chance to discover what you really connect with. So join meetup.com, check out that event you saw on Facebook, join a co-working space, go to a living social event, and say yes to the invites to try new things! Action, is the best way to figure this ish out. (If you need some reading material featuring women who got out of their bubble, check out books like Wild, Eat Pray Love, and You Are a Badass.)
Deepen Your Interests
You may already have interests that you enjoy. If you’re not so keen on trying something new, think about what interests you can deepen. Attend events about things that already stimulate you. Try a new class to learn more about a subject. What was before mildly interesting, can become a passion once you start deepening your knowledge on the subject. Your actions are what allows these interests to become a passion.
Seriously. My daydreams usually involve me giving a big speech at the Business in Africa Conference at Harvard. RANDOM, I know. For some reason, this daydream always stuck with me after I attended my first conference in undergrad. So I want to encourage you to let your mind wander. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where are you giving your speech? What stories are you telling your grandchildren? What would you rather be doing on your day off? What would you do if you hit the lotto?
Read (Or Listen If You’re Lazy Like Me)
When I was a kid I loved to read. When I entered college, however, the books I read got fewer and further between. Now I’m going through a book a week via audible.com. It’s been life changing. As I learn from books and podcasts, I am continually inspired by the life and passions of others. The intellectual and (sometimes ratchet) content exposed me to ideas and research that I would never have read on my own. Commit to feeding your mind and invite inspiration into your life.
How would your family or friends describe you? What do they compliment you about? Many times we may not be aware of our gifts. We can possess a skill or natural talent that is easier for others to recognize in us. For me, I always considered myself an anxious person, so I usually turned down events that put me at the center of attention (birthdays, leading presentations, leadership positions, etc). When I did get stuck or voted into these roles, I was always surprised when others complimented me on my leadership and public speaking skills. After a while, I started to believe them. Yes, there were places that I could improve, but it showed me that I could pursue passions that involved public speaking. I was able to explore an entire genre of activities that I never considered before.
Are you looking for a way to make money or a life purpose? You’ve got to be clear. I’m going to tell you right now, that not all passions will make you money. In fact, some will make you money, but not enough to quit your job. It’s the truth. So check yourself and your passions before you try to monetize them. All your passions can make you happy, but be clear on the ones that can make you money.
Many times we wander for reasons other than a lack of purpose and passion. We see people who are passionate about their jobs and projects and we want to be like them. Their joy and motivation seem almost magical. The truth is, sometimes we mystify talent and excellence to make achieving it impossible. It’s a natural reaction to hard work. We don’t want to understand how they reached that level of skill or excellence because we don’t want to do the work. Your passion won’t magically make you an expert or a hard worker. Even when you’re doing what you love, there is work involved. So take the time to deal with issues of fear and discipline. You don’t want to miss your opportunity at being happy because of a few poor habits.
I hope these 10 strategies will help you finally find the interests that you are passionate about. One last word of advice. Be patient. I know you don’t want to hear this, but you’ve got to do it. Passions don’t come all at once. They are built up of small experiences and exposures. So keep on doing stuff, trying new things, and reading books. Things will fall together. I promise.
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