Chances are, if you clicked on this post, it’s really important to you that you find a path that makes you happy. As someone who felt unsure about where they were going for years, and was absolutely desperate for anything to point me in the right direction, I get where you are coming from. It’s scary. It’s unknown. It’s frustrating.
I tried a whole host of things to work out where my passions lied. I revisited old hobbies, gave new things a go, I even forced myself into activities my gut was trying to dissuade me from. It seemed as though I went round and round in circles; full of energy but no idea where to invest it. I thought I was going to explode.
It wasn’t until I stopped searching outwards, and began looking inwards instead, that I started to make real progress. I know, I know, sOoOo mushy. But from this experience, I found that my passion was something that already lit a fire inside of me... And now I’m going to show you how you can find your passion too!
What sparks joy? What do you love?
The internet may have gone a little wild with the Marie Kondo memes since the release of her Tidying Up Netflix series, but the sentiment of observing what ‘sparks joy’ and holding on to it works in this scenario too. So much so that the first step in finding my passion was reconnecting with myself, and thinking about what brings me joy. This allowed me the squash the feelings that finding the path I wanted to pursue was out of reach, disperse the franticness I felt over the overwhelming choice available to me, and really focus my search down.
To start, grab yourself a piece of paper or start a fresh document on your laptop, and divide it into three columns. Title the first column “Things”, the second “Activities”, and the third “Important”.
Under the first column, list every single Thing that you find joy in. And when I say Thing I’m talking favourite artists, actors, bands, TV series, films, YouTubers, places, colours, cake… And so on. This doesn’t have to be a definitive list, but, like all of this exercise, getting everything out of your head and on to paper will make it easier for you to get an overall picture of yourself and where you are at.
In the second column jot down all the Activities that you enjoy doing. Now, Activities can involve physical activities, such as sports and travelling, but this also encompasses everyday activities too. By this I mean: popping to your favourite coffee shop for a hot chocolate, spending hours people watching, buying yourself fresh flowers on payday, researching hashtags for Instagram, writing reviews on the latest cinema releases, slipping into fresh bedsheets, walking on crunchy snow… Basically anything that involves you doing something, in or out of the house.
Then in the final column, take note of anything that is Important to you… Do you live for your family and friends? Is self care your main priority? Are you a frequent date-nighter with your partner? Is living as ethically as possible a big part of your lifestyle? Do you volunteer for any LGBTQIA+ groups? This is the space to make a note of anything you feel strongly about, that shapes you or influences your choices.
Whilst we can easily rattle off our favourite TV show of the moment or musician in a heartbeat, it’s unlikely that beyond our childhood years - where fan-projects were MY JAM - we have actually taken the time to consider the things we love. And when I say love, I mean the sort of love that fills you up from head to toe, and makes your heart do that warm and fuzzy thing.
This exercise is an important reminder of what you love, and, in my experience, seeing it all laid out in front of me, made me feel so much more assured of myself. And don’t forget; cross over is cool. Don’t fear writing similar things in each of the columns! In fact, it is actually quite useful, because it helps you…
Find consistencies; what have you loved for a long time?
Now your lists are complete, review the Activities and Important columns and highlight all of the linked or similar points within them. From doing this, you may observe a couple of themes, or perhaps one theme that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Once you have found all of the consistencies, split them up into these themes, and rewrite them as new lists. It is vital to do this as it will help you decide on the area or field your passion falls into.
Books and Reading
Activity: Reading Books.
Activity: Perusing bookshops for hours.
Important: Prioritising meetings with the book club.
Activity: Going hiking and climbing on the weekends with my partner.
Activity: Spending time researching at rural cottages for trips.
Important: The annual family walking holiday.
To find the field your passion falls into, concentrate on the theme you find yourself drawn to the most. If there is one you can pick out straight away then that’s great, but it can become really easy to overthink this bit. I got stuck in a loop for months and months by second guessing my instincts. What helped me break this cycle was looking back over my life to find consistencies there too.
I asked myself: “Is there anything I have always done or come back to time and time again?” - I knew that if I had chosen to keep up a hobby or interest for a significant amount of my life, it would have to mean a lot to me and would have likely brought me a lot of joy over time. This led me to photography!
As this was so telling, it’s time for you to take your new list of themes and look back across your life. Have you always been an avid traveller, keen cinephile, eager bookworm, total foodie, passionate sportsperson, or maybe even a dedicated follower of fashion and beauty? Listen to your gut and let it lead the way.
Once you’ve put your finger on the theme you love, you will be able to…
Make it personal: How can you turn your interests into a passion that suits you?
At this point, you should know what you love, what you have loved for a long time and the theme they fall into. A path may already be revealing itself to you, or perhaps the direction you would like to head in is becoming clearer. It’s also likely that whilst you have your chosen theme, you may not see a way to jump in, or build the ideas within it into a long-term pursuit - possibly even a career.
To work out whereabouts to get stuck in, it’s time to give your chosen theme centre stage, but consider the other themes in relation to it. By doing this, you can take everything that is of value to you and find a way of weaving them together to end up your personalised passion! HUZZAH.
For me, the Activities and Important columns revealed Photography as my biggest overarching theme, but other areas I felt strongly about were…
That I work best alone and am self motivated, but appreciate the time I spend with people. I also enjoy learning about them and their stories.
That, because prioritising my wellbeing is important to me, having the opportunity to balance and plan my own schedule would be incredibly beneficial.
That I express myself through creativity and helping others. From writing to drawing, I like to experiment by bouncing between art forms, and I find putting together resources rewarding.
This let me identify that I wanted to work on my own and for myself, so I could manage my own schedule, but take photos of people. And also that blogging and creating content was something I loved too. This then made me consider intertwining photography and blogging; by using my blog and socials to share my work, career change experience along the way, and what I have learned about photography to inform, entertain and educate others... And that was it. I knew my passions were portrait photography and photography-related content creation.
So, that’s how I found my passion, and I hope you did too! I’d love to hear your findings from completing these exercises, so be sure to get in touch via Twitter to let me know how you got on and where you are heading next.
[Record scratch] Hold up. “What’s the point of the Thing column, then?” I hear you ask… Well, besides it being a helpful tool to reconnect with yourself and settle in to this exercise, it can be a great way to find inspiration for your aspiration too.
Consider why you are drawn to the things, people and places you are. Do you want to follow in one of your idol’s footsteps, take aspects of their career into your own, or possibly even work with them? What is about their ethics you want to emulate? Is there a niche somewhere within it all that you want to tap into? Could your favourite colours be the colour palette for your new business venture?
Use your findings to help you work out the next steps to take, and plot out how you want to thrive in your passion.