How to Find Your Passion in 2021
It seems like finding your passion is a life-long pursuit for some. The people around you seem to be doing exactly what they love and are so good at, and you may wonder how you missed that train. The reality is, we come into finding our passions in very similar ways, just at different times in our lives.
The new year is such a promising time – it’s a time to set intentions, to abandon old habits in pursuit of new habits to bring about the fruit in our lives that we feel we’ve been missing. It’s a time of hope for the preferred future….a time for casting vision.
2020 Was a Year of Change
2020 was a year of so much…..everything. Losses, gains, civil and political reckonings. But it was also a time of birth…businesses, babies, dreams, restored hope in humanity. So whether you lost, gained, or both in 2020, it’s ok to look forward to what good, or better, is in store.
As I mentioned, we saw so many businesses birthed in 2020…804,398 to be exact! That’s 100,000 more than were started in 2019. That tells us that for all the loss that 2020 brought, it also brought hope, grit, and a serious pivot response.
If you’re wondering how to tap into the new entrepreneurial space, but aren’t quite sure what to do, a critical first step is getting back to identifying your passion. Because passions change, I have had to zero in on what I’m truly passionate about in any given season.
Here’s the homework I give myself, and am assigning to you, to figure out your passion as
you enter the new year or any phase of newness in your life:
Identify Your Strengths
As a huge Clifton Strengths-advocate and trainer, I find so much value in positive psychological assessments. The Clifton Strengths assessment reveals your natural talents after answering a series of questions. The assessment provide insights, exercises, and resources to help you better understand and leverage these strengths in you all you do. The goal is to STOP living in the deficit place of weakness fixing, and instead focus on your strengths – the very best of what you bring.
Now: Do you need an assessment to tell you what you’re good at? NO! Grab a pen and piece of paper, and make a list of the 5 things you KNOW you do well. I’ll wait….go get that pen and paper.
**plays Final Jeopardy music**
Ok. Now write them down. What are you great at? Wait, stop. Before you start writing, I want you to think about the way you approach the tasks, and not the task itself. Did I lose you? Ok, here’s my personal example:
I am great at creating the structure and organization I need to be successful at a task or job.
I am good at organizing.
This is an important distinction because my strength and skill of being a creative problem solver is applied not just when I’m organizing a drawer, but when I’m coaching a client, trying to piece together dinner ingredients to make them into a meal (am I the only one that happens to....ingredients and no meals?!?!), or when I start a new project with little direction. See the difference? What I’m skilled at, is what I’m good at…period.
So, now, write down 5 of your strengths, focusing on what makes you good, vs something you do well.
Mopping the floor? Wrapping gifts? Planning a training? I do it all with the same strengths in mind…I am inherently going to find a creative way to approach any task.
Once you’ve identified your strengths, you can be intentional about applying your strengths to everything you do. Kinda’ like a spoon full of sugar analogy. For every job that must be done, use your strengths, LOL.
What Comes Naturally to You?
If you’re anything like me, you created that list of strengths with some hesitation. For some of us, becoming a mom meant a slight disconnect from our former self….body changes, hormonal changes, time and attention changes, and MAJOR new demands can have you feeling like you don’t even quite remember who you were before children.
That can make it really hard to remember what you were good at before you were consumed with figuring out how to be good at keeping tiny humans alive.
So the hesitation in making your list could have something to do with not remembering what you were good at, but it could also have to do with several other pieces of your mindset:
Self-doubt - wondering if you really are good at those things, or if it’s all been in your head.
Comparison – thinking maybe you are ok at it, but not as good as so-and-so.
False humility – being afraid to admit, even to yourself on paper, that you think you’re good at several things….how very Kardashian of you (eye roll).
Now that we shook that dirt out, let’s get down to it. Sometimes, we don’t want to believe ourselves, let alone believe in ourselves. But that’s what our community is for. So, whether or not you struggled with writing down your five strengths, I have a new list for you.
On the same sheet of paper, write down three positive things people have consistently said about you. If nothing comes readily to mind, think harder and a bit more abstract. Maybe instead of saying “This was delicious,” they said something like, “You made that look so easy!”
You can also use your list of 5 strengths to interview close family and/or friends and ask them if they can give you examples to support what you wrote down. When we can’t believe ourselves, or believe in ourselves, we need to turn to our family and friends for confirmation.
The thing about our strengths, is that they come so naturally to us, we often don’t see them as exceptional, and thus don’t think of them as strengths. Phone a friend, and see what they say about what you naturally bring to their lives or the lives of others you know.
Pay Attention to When You Feel “In the Zone”.
Paying attention to when you feel “In the Zone” provides you clues to talent and passion. This means, when you’re engaged in a particular activity, you do it so inherently well or enjoy it so much that you lose track of time and space.
This doesn’t mean that you’re not tired when you’re done, it doesn’t even necessarily mean that you don’t have a bit of anxiety before you begin or once you’re finished. It means despite the hard work and tired feelings you have a sense of accomplishment, joy, and a desire to do it again. And again. Even for free. Which leads to my next question to help you in your pursuit to find your passion:
What Would You Do for Free?
One of my FAVORITE books to read, and re-read when I need a creative pep-talk, is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert! I love it so much that I have a hard copy, and the electronic version. I reference it often in my work with clients, and in my work with myself....because that's a life-long journey (face palm emoji).
The book focuses on living a creative life and working to release the fear that stops us from creating. For me personally, so much of my fear stems from 1. Imposter syndrome (feeling as though I don’t belong in the place I’ve worked so hard to arrive to), and 2. Failure (as if the result of all my efforts won’t amount to anything in the end). Lies. All lies.
But Gilbert poses that we push through our fears of failure, or even success for that matter (because fear of success is a very real thing), and just DO IT ANYWAY.
So you have to ask yourself, this thing that I love to do…would I do it if I were never successful at it? If I never made a dime from it? If it didn’t cause me to go viral? Would I still love to sing? Sew? Write? Garden? Roller skate? Style hair? If yes, that’s big magic. Doing it because you love it, you’re good at it, and you feel good while doing it, regardless of any external motivations is a clue to passion.
Putting it All Together
Usually after this process of reflection, I have a very clear idea of what I am passionate about, and more importantly, what I am NOT passionate about. To me, knowing what I don’t want to do is just as helpful as knowing what I do want to do.
Still struggling? Let me help you out by hopping on a free strategy session with me.
I can’t wait to hear if any of the above steps helped you get clearer on your passion. Share below, and let me know which step was most helpful!