Society leads us to believe that we must find and follow our passions in life.
But it’s not always that easy.
Passion is a feeling that many people misunderstand. And this confusion leads them to conclude that they have no passion for anything.
If this sounds like you, here are some things you ought to keep in mind.
1. Know what passion feels like to you.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the culture of “living your passion” is that passion feels different for different people.
The traditional vision of passion is of a person who wakes up in the morning with a spring in their step, chomping at the bit, and raring to go.
Someone who has bags of enthusiasm and exuberance.
Someone who can’t wait to do whatever it is they are going to do.
But that’s not everyone.
There are plenty of people who feel and show their passion in a different way.
Since you are reading this article, you’re probably one of them.
For you, passion might not fill you with an intense fire. It might be more of a glowing ember.
You might have an underlying enjoyment of something without necessarily feeling compelled to do it every waking hour.
But because you believe that passion should be intense, you disregard anything else as a mere passing emotion.
You might have a more reserved personality – one that doesn’t experience highs that are as high as those of other people.
For you, passion might feel more comfortable, warm, pleasant, even a relief.
So don’t ignore a feeling just because it doesn’t meet society’s definition of what passion is.
And certainly don’t look to others to see what passion looks like outwardly. Yours probably won’t look the same.
2. Don’t limit what passion means to you.
Once again, the common belief is that a passion is something big and bold.
When someone says they have a passion for the piano, you might imagine that they are trained to a high level and that they regularly perform recitals.
In reality, you can have a passion for the piano and just enjoy playing it in your free time, at your own level – whatever that may be.
You don’t need to impress others with your passions. They are yours, after all. If you get some enjoyment or meaning from them, that is what matters most.
You can have a passion for jigsaw puzzles if that is something that you often like to do.
Remember, you don’t have to leap out of bed in the morning and feel compelled to start a new puzzle for it to be a passion.
But wait, isn’t that just a hobby, you might ask?
Sure, it’s a hobby, but to maintain a hobby, you must feel positively toward it. And if you feel positively toward it, why shouldn’t it count as a passion?
Hobbies can come and go. Passions can come and go.
Don’t dismiss something as not being a passion simply because it doesn’t fit with the stereotypical view of one.
3. You won’t always feel willing or able to pursue a passion.
Yet another myth that people believe about passions is that you must always be ready to follow them.
That if you are really passionate about something, you won’t let things get in your way and you won’t compromise.
That is nonsense.
Nobody will always be able to find the energy or motivation to keep up with a passion all of the time.
Life happens. You get busy. You find you are struggling to commit to something you believed was a passion.
So you write it off as something you must not be that passionate about after all.
Don’t be so hasty!
Passions can be put on the backburner if necessary. They can be kept warm until you are ready to pursue them again.
Just because you haven’t been able to dedicate every spare second you have to something, doesn’t mean you can’t be passionate about it.
Just like everything else, if you look for perfection in a passion, you will never find it.
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4. Don’t expect “results” from your passion.
Having a passion for a particular thing shouldn’t mean you have to get some sort of result out of it.
Passions, though related to goals, should not be considered goals in their own right.
If you think you have no passion for something because you aren’t achieving certain things in it, think again.
There is no need to put pressure on your enjoyment of a passion by insisting that, if it really is a passion, you’d do X, Y, or Z.
Just enjoy the process of doing it, whatever that may be. Remember the piano player who plays purely for enjoyment, regardless of how well they can play.
5. You can work passions around constraints of circumstance.
Do you struggle to feel passionate about something because you don’t have the time or resources to fully engage in it?
Maybe you are passionate about the environment, but you don’t have the time to volunteer at beach cleanups or the money to buy organic food.
Does this mean you can’t still have that passion?
Of course not.
You simply have to find ways to make the passion fit within your means.
So, in our environment example, you might focus on cutting down waste or scouring thrift shops for second hand goods instead of buying new.
If you think you might have a passion for teaching, but you don’t feel able to switch to a teaching career right now, you can still share your wisdom and knowledge with others through a blog, vlog, podcast, or by doing talks to the public.
In other words, don’t kid yourself into thinking you aren’t passionate about something just because you can’t change your entire life circumstances to accommodate it.
Find ways of bringing it into your life without making big changes.
6. Your career can’t always align with your passions.
Many people think that when you have a real passion for something, you should try to find a way to turn that thing into a way to make a living.
That if you are a passionate tennis player, you should turn pro.
That if you have a passion for baking, you should open a bakery.
But here’s the truth: it’s not very common for a passion to fit nicely into a career or business.
Most of the time, your job is just something you have to do to pay your bills and put food on the table.
As hard as it may be to hear, you sometimes have to accept that your job – the thing you spend a huge chunk of your life doing – is not something you’ll be passionate about.
Remember point #4 from above, and don’t expect the result of a salary or income from your passion.
Instead, find ways to fulfil your passions in your free time.
7. Don’t worry about fitting passion into your education.
When you’re young and looking at course options for college or university, the advice you might hear is to choose something you are passionate about.
But what if you aren’t sure what your passions are yet?
What if you don’t know what field you want to go into?
Remember that you are not alone in this.
It’s rare for someone to have their whole life mapped out at such a young age.
Most people choose a course or degree that they feel they can remain fairly interested in and do well at.
And that’s about all you can do if you aren’t sure what you want to do in your career.
8. You might have lots of little passions instead of one big one.
Some people have lots of interests and hobbies and yet still see themselves as having no real passion for anything in particular.
This comes back to our first point about knowing what passion means to you.
You might be the jack of all trades of the hobbies world, indulging in a wide variety of different pastimes.
But how, you might think, can any one of these things be a passion if you have other things you enjoy just as much?
They are passions because you wish to keep doing them. You will go out of your way to do them.
You might say that your passion is actually in diversity. You enjoy sampling as many different things as you can instead of focusing on just one.
Or perhaps you simply like the challenge of trying new things. That might be your passion.
9. Consider whether you might be depressed.
If none of the above makes any sense to you, it’s time to consider the possibility that you might be depressed.
One common symptom of depression is something called anhedonia. That is when you lose all interest in things that you once enjoyed.
If you think there is the slightest chance you might be depressed, it’s time to speak to someone – a doctor, support worker, or even a close friend or family member.