“Follow your passion”
This is the universal advice but at the same time highly individualised solution. We are all driven by different things and at different levels of intensity by the same things.
Truth is, the road to passion is not a straight and narrow one. It is riddled with distractions, diversions, change of directions, revisits and road bumps.
It doesn't matter where you start or where you are right now. Only thing that matters is where you are going.
When you examine the career graphs of passionate people like Walt Disney or J K Rowling or Steve Jobs you often find they never started in their chosen field. And even when they found their passion, they had to overcome challenges that questioned the foundations of their beliefs.
Have you found your passion yet? If not, don’t despair. Passion does not follow a timetable.
Never too late to find it, never too early to start looking.
Your 20s are a great time for initiating the pursuit of passion because you have time on your side and you are mentally fresh.
If you are struggling to find your passion, here are 5 unconventional strategies that can help you reset yourself and get back on the course -
1. Go back to go forward - revisit your childhood dreams
We have all had dreams of grand adventures in our childhoods.
By the time we become practical adults, our dreams start to look silly in the harsh light of reality. In time we often shift course and change our ambitions in accordance with our limitations.
The LinkedIn Global survey found that, only one in four US professionals and 30% of global workers say they earn a living from their childhood dream job or a related field. Among these 8.9% currently work in their childhood dream job, though another 21% say they at least work in a career that relates to their original dream job.
The Survey by Trade schools.net revealed that, 22 percent of people who do pursue jobs their younger selves dreamed up, are overwhelmingly happy with their careersAnd 42% of people regret not chasing their childhood ambitions.
It’s true that, childhood dream job aisle is not exactly overflowing. But it is a factor that deserves serious consideration.
Childhood aspirations can act as a window into our passion and aptitude. They can give us clues about what we truly enjoy doing.
What we have a genuine interest in is, in the vast majority of cases, tied to what we're good at or have a competency for — even if it's something we have to practice or train for to become skilled.
Think back on your life and revisit the activities and events that made you feel alive, habits that you developed naturally. Explore how they can fit in with your current life situation. Are there any transferable skills and experiences that can excite you today?
You don't have to do exactly your dream job. Even doing it as a hobby can infuse life into your daily grind. In your childhood your exposure is very limited, hence the narrowness and specificity of options. But as an adult, you have a greater degree of awareness about your options.
For example, you may not have the qualifications of becoming an astronaut now. But, you may have the skills to work in some other capacity (engineer, programmer) with many industries in the field of space exploration.
2. Make a list of people whom you admire and get inspired by them
Admiration is not shallow celebrity obsession. It is a deep emotion which has the power to transcend our daily grind and give us a window into the possibilities of life.
People we admire have qualities and abilities that can act as a spark that guides our efforts at self-improvement.
Inspiration is a vital ingredient in finding and keeping up your passion.
TODD M. THRASH AND ANDREW J. ELLIOT who developed the ‘Inspiration Scale’, found that people who were inspired reported higher absorption in their tasks and we're more open to new experiences.
Marina Milyavskaya’s study on ‘Personality and Individual differences’ found that, people who are inspired in their daily lives tend to set more inspired goals and have a higher possibility of achieving them.
Why not combine these two?
Take the case of Joseph Schooling who managed to beat his idol Michael Phelps in Rio 2016. After winning, Schooling told the press that Phelps is one of the reasons he wanted to be a better swimmer, and that he’s looked up to him for a long time.
Start by making a list of people you admire who have been successful in your passion. To see someone achieve what you have dreamed of doing can be a huge dose of positive affirmation.
But don’t stop at admiring the results. Find out what goes on behind the scene.Find out what skills, habits and unique abilities they possess. Learn about their struggle and sacrifices. Discover what kind of time commitment they had to make to reach their goals.
Now check where you are in terms of expertise demanded by your passion. Look at your own commitments to the goal.
Whenever you are struggling, go to their story to get inspired. If it is someone accessible to you, have a talk or correspond with them. This can direct you whenever you are feeling lost in your search.
3. Take a Break from pursuing your passion to recharge your Brain
Pursuit of passion is a high pressure activity.
The ‘passion trap’ puts relentless drain on your mental and physical resources. It can often blind you to simple pleasures of life. In this journey you will go through slumps, get exhausted and lose your creativity. At such times Shifting of mental gears will refresh your perspective and reinvent you.
John P. Trougakos says that, “Mental concentration is similar to using a muscle. It becomes fatigued after sustained use and needs a rest period before it can recover”
Our brain is built to detect and respond to change.
University of Illinoi study found that prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance. This 2011 study highlights another upside to sporadic breaks that we rarely consider: goal reactivation -Deactivating and reactivating your goals allows you to stay focused.
When you work on a task continuously, it’s easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve.
Breaks allow us to take a step back and evaluate our actions and emotions.
Only when you tear yourself away from the chaos of your daily grind, you can see if you are accomplishing the right things in the right way.
Break is not Idleness. It is moving away from the familiar chore and trying things that take you out of your comfort zone. You could even use it to explore other interests and hobbies.
Pursuit of passion is a marathon. Play the long game - take strategic breaks to avoid burnout and mental fatigue. It will help you keep your passion alive and allow you to do what you love - as soon as you are ready.
4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable - Do what takes you out of your comfort zone.
Don’t take the job that makes you feel safe and comfortable!!!
Even neurobiologically we are not big fans of uncertainty. This instinct is the reason we search and settle for comfortable careers that leave no room for challenges or growth. These jobs don’t engage you or force you to be creative. They are not the best incubators for innovation. Thus walking this comfortable path is least likely to lead you to your passion.
Instead take a job that takes you away from the familiar.
Passion is dynamic - it is alive.
While pursuing your passion you have to constantly interact with your environment.Passion often requires you to move out of your comfort zone. A true passion will make you constantly push the edges of your experience and walk into uncharted territories.
Mark Cuban was a millionaire at 31, if he had decided to rest on that laurels he would have never become a billionaire at 40.
What if Steve Jobs had decided that iPod was the pinnacle of his success, rather than the basis for future innovation?
I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do
Being uncomfortable is not exactly a pleasant feeling.
This discomfort is hard, scary and doubtful. It makes you question your abilities. It makes you challenge the status quo. It initiates a fight or flight response.
Being uncomfortable is not a bad thing. In fact, it is necessary.
Because passion is not only the destination you reach but the road you travel. It is supposed to challenge you and change you every day. What you do along the road matters.
It is not necessary for every passion to be larger than life. It could be a small step such as finding a job that challenges your present skills.
Ensure that your job makes you explore the wide array of options giving you a better shot at finding your passion.
If you truly want your passion, then accept discomfort as the status quo.
As you challenge yourself, your comfort zone progresses along with your abilities. As this adjustment happens what was once panic inducing becomes your second nature.
5. Ask and you shall Receive - Don’t hesitate to seek Help
Road to passion is often depicted as a lonely one. Finding your passion is highly individual and self-centred process. But, that does not mean you have to go it alone all the time.
Don’t try to do it all yourself. Because it is impossible to do it alone.
Harvard Business Review looked at interviews of 4000 successful executives to understand the work-life balance. It concludes that, of the many paths to success, none can be walked alone. A support network is crucial both at and outside work—successful people involve their families in work decisions and activities.
Many a time it happens that we cannot be objective about our skills or blind to our talents.
Simine Vazire, Washington University assistant professor of psychology has found that friends are better barometers of evaluative traits, such as intelligence, attractiveness and creativity.
So, what stops us from asking for help?
We often perceive asking for help as a sign of weakness.
A 2015 Leadership Quarterly Research found that, Male leaders who sought help were evaluated as less competent than male leaders who did not seek help regardless of their leadership style.
Author Garret Keizer says in his book 'Help -Original human dilemma' that, there is a tendency to see asking for help as a deficiency and fear that the information will be used against you.
Francis J. Flynn, found in a series of studies that, people underestimated by as much as 50% the likelihood that others would agree to a direct request for help.
Do a favour to yourself and move away from this misconception. Reality is that you need all the help you can get.
Your family and friends can help to motivate you and hold you accountable. Further their emotional support will be the very thing that helps you overcome your insecurities and fears. Even getting professional help to deal with anxiety or developing essential skills is desirable.
Pursuing passion not an either /or option. It's a balancing act. You need to integrate your social connections into your passion. Otherwise you will end up the proverbial lone man at the top.
What is your umbrella?
Passion is not a single Lane road. Change your perspective about passion. Stop looking at it with a tunnel vision.
Instead of looking at your skills, resources passion as separate entities, find an inclusive solution that caters to all. Explore the opportunities that fit under the umbrella of your passion and let you express your skills.
Are you willing to give these unconventional ideas a try? Or do you have your own weird idea that helped you find your passion? Share it with us!