Find Passion

How to Find Your Passion for Anything

There’s a big myth in our culture: that passion can only be spontaneous. You either love your job or you don’t. You either enjoy exercising or hate it. You are interested in reading books or you find them boring. That passion can’t be forced or created.

I disagree. Passion can be created. Even for things you don’t currently enjoy.

By tweaking the activities and pursuits you engage in, you can find a passion for anything. All it takes is a bit of patience and an open mind.

The benefit is that you end up loving the things you have to do anyways. Exercising, learning, studying, working and almost any pursuit can be made into a passion. And if you know how to do it, existing passions can be turned from mildly interesting to exciting. The skill of finding your passion is like turning up the dial for the amount of color you experience in life.Here are some ways to find your passion:

1. Get Curious – Curiosity is the basis of passion. Shake off your current understandings and begin from the view that you are almost completely ignorant on the subject. Then look for novelty to boost your interest.

2. Make it a Game – Give yourself rules, objectives and strategic constraints. The more creative thinking required, the better.

3. Set a Goal – Create a specific goal along with a deadline. This can infuse mundane activities with a sense of direction and purpose. Writing a report goes from being just another task, to a creative challenge that pushes you.

4. Express Yourself - Find hidden opportunities for self-expression. This could mean inventing a style for folding clothes. Changing the format you write code in or altering the style of your presentation. View each activity as an act of expression and originality.

5. Focus – Cut distractions and eliminate noise. The more you focus on an activity the better you can notice interesting qualities about it. The only truly boring activity is the one you can’t pay attention to.

6. Jigsaw Piecing – A jigsaw puzzle has hundreds of uniquely shaped pieces of a picture. View your activities as pieces of a larger image. This can turn dull activities into individual snippets of a more fascinating whole.

7. Dial Down Cravings – Have you ever noticed how the hungrier you are, the less able you are to enjoy the taste of food? This works the same way with passion. The more you crave a goal (instead of the process containing the goal) the less likely you are to develop a passion for it. Goal-setting is good. Goal-obsession is not.

8. Connect with Talents – How can you apply your existing talents to an activity? Find ways to use skills you already have in a new endeavor. An artistic person could draw pictures to help himself study. An athletic person might be able to use her strength and endurance as a speaker.

9. Overcome the Frustration Barrier – If an activity is too difficult for you to become enthusiastic about it, slow down. Worry less about results and more about experimenting until you build up skill. Whenever I try a new hobby, I strive to just try things out before building skills. This keeps me from getting frustrated and ensures the process is fun.

10. Leech Enthusiasm – Energy is contagious. If you spend time with someone who exudes passion about a subject, some of it will rub off on you. Seek out people who have the energy you want and get them to describe their motivation. Often it will point you to key information you had no idea could be so interesting.

11. Remove the Chains – Feeling forced into an activity is a sure way to kill any passion. Instead of flowing with the task, you rebel against it, making you miserable. Be aware of the consequences for not acting, but remove the feeling that you don’t have a choice. You always have a choice.

12. Tune the Challenge – For boring tasks, make them more difficult. For frustrating tasks, make them easier. This can be done by varying the speed or constraints you need to complete a task. Boring chores can be made more interesting by setting a time-limit. Frustrating assignments can be made easier by allowing yourself an awful first-draft instead of perfection.

13. Get instruction – Finding a teacher can give you the basic level of understanding necessary to enjoy an activity. Sometimes passion can be drained just by not knowing the basics.

14. Humble confidence – Confidence is necessary for passion, but arrogance can destroy it. Build a humble confidence where you believe in your abilities to handle the unknown, but you also have a great respect for it.

15. Focus Immediately – Look at the next immediate step. Don’t concern yourself over what needs to be done next month or next year if it overwhelms you. Focus on each step of the marathon, not how many miles you have left.

16. Play – If the process confuses or bothers you, just play with it. Don’t have a purpose until you can define one.

17. Eliminate – This one might not apply, but it is always good to use. If you really can’t enjoy something, find a way to eliminate it from your life. Don’t waste your time doing things you don’t enjoy. Either cultivate a passion or get rid of it.

Image by catch the dream

  • http://improvlifestyle.com/ Taylor @ ImprovLifestyle

    I’m going to go against 7: Dial Down Cravings. I have found that I am the most passionate about things that I obsess about. Those obsessions drive me to be productive, and achieve my goals. By not going full steam ahead, I feel stagnant.

    The “hungrier” I am to achieve a goal, the more proactive I am to achieve it.

    • http://www.squidoo.com/finding-your-passion-how-to-live-your-dreams Live Your Dreams

      I’m with you. Obsessing is similar to meditating or reflecting on something I reckon.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I agree that hunger is a power motivator and it shouldn’t be ignored, but I think Scott’s point was too say that we shouldn’t let it consume us. After a certain point it can turn into a harmful obsession.

  • xian

    Back in college, I used to trick myself into being highly interested in the topic of the paper I was writing. I’d just start thinking as genuinely as possible that I loved the subject and that my take on it was valuable and poignant. It really worked – I was a mediocre writer to begin, but ended up getting an A on every paper I wrote in my undergrad and graduate career.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Xian,

    That’s a great way to approach tasks that seems tedious. The truth is that most things are only as boring or interesting as we decide to make them. Once you start looking with genuine curiosity nearly anything can be interesting.

  • http://www.varsityblah.com/about Eugene (Editor, Varsity Blah)

    One of the things I’ve always believed and written about a lot is that happiness is a choice and that 99% of the time we might as well be happy because there’s no reason not to.

    It’s also a concept I came across while reading Success Built to Last, which talks about making time for all the things in life you’re passionate about, even if you don’t take each one all that seriously.

    (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0452288703/?tag=varsblah-20)

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com/ Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    Great ideas and photo, but I am wondering if it’s legal to use a photo that has all rights reserved? I restrict myself to photos with a Creative Commons license. Am I being unnecessarily scrupulous?

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  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Jean,

    You might have a point, but Flickr does have an option for users to make their photos unavailable for download. If they cared so much they would use it. I always credit the source and if anyone ever asked I’d take it down immediately.

    The way I see it there is mutual benefit as their photography gets exposure as well.

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com/ Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    The official Flickr policy is we need permission to download unless it says otherwise. One woman in a forum discussion is upset because people are using her material even though she has reserved all rights. I’m afraid I don’t feel comfortable with your approach. I do wish they made it easier to get permission. I’ve seen a lot of pictures I would love to use.

    Thanks for answering.

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com/ Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    Ah, I asked. It isn’t that hard to send an e-mail asking for permission. Now whether either of the two people I contacted will reply is the question. I will let you know. I really have trouble with the idea of trampling on other people’s rights in the pursuit of my own goals. Even if it is a minor trampling.

    I think Flickr is a great service and I hate to think of it being abused.

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com/ Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    I just received permission for one of my requests…I don’t expect others to go that quickly. This one was from a gal who told me how to send the e-mail…she’s a friendly soul. Anyway, this post has been a big help for me. I learned a lot today.

  • http://www.yangtown.com Ryan

    Great post! Kids are great at enjoying almost anything they are doing, especially #1,2,& 4.

    I could see how having extreme cravings could be a bad thing if we allow it to control us like you mentioned in comment #2, though I agree with Taylor that having strong cravings and desires can really help us cultivate that powerful passion.

    Cheers, Ryan

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  • http://cheerfulmonk.com/ Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    My second permission was in the mail box this morning. Do me a favor and respect the people using Flickr. Your latest post is about how to spot a liar, so hopefully you’re advocating that we all behave in a trustworthy manner. Yes, it is a little more work to get permission, or to just search on pictures which have a Creative Commons license, but isn’t it worthwhile to have a more open and sharing community?

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I see what you’re saying Jean, and I will definitely look for more free stock photos and creative commons licenses to respect photographers rights. I would be a bit more motivated to do so if my writing wasn’t constantly ripped off without attribution. This is just the nature of content on the web. Once it’s out there people use it, regardless of the restrictions. It’s tough to catch, harder to stop, and even more difficult to prosecute.

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com/ Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    Thank you! I sympathize with you about being ripped off, but let’s hang in there and play our part well. Again, thank you. You’ve made my day.

  • http://ravivora.com/blog Ravi Vora

    Great post, this is similar to my latest blog entry in which I explore how to Find your Big Dream.

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  • http://www.worlds-smartest-man.com The World’s Smartest Man

    Great post. I fell revitalized and motivated to tackle life by the horns.

  • http://www.dogperfection.com/dogs The Dogs Health Guy

    I’ve digged your article.

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  • http://theyoungbostons.com/dustin Dustin Boston

    Loved the post! I’ve loved pretty much every job I’ve ever had; whether it was driving a bus or developing an e-commerce system I’ve always employed curiosity, making it a game, and expressing myself.

    I currently have a product at work in which I need to “remove the chains.” It’s weird because this particular product isn’t much different than anything else I support but there is such an attitude of disdain for it from my coworkers that it makes it difficult to enjoy actually working on it. Maybe I can be the element of change and begin to exude passion for it :)

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  • Kibrika

    The topic is very current for me – I just got a class in university that I strongly disliked in highschool and hoped to never ever see again. Against my hopes I do see an exteremely similar class though. And supposedly – for quite some time.
    The ideas suggested in the article though are so general, that I can’t agree or disagree with them. Supposedly that should make it easyer to apply them to my situation, but it doesn’t. I would much more enjoy a real life experience with this, the person with his attitude and why an idea did or did not help him…
    I guess it would have been good to read the comments for this purpose. But I stumbled upon some that started disagreeing with the general ideas and seemed to me to just miss the point…
    Anyway, I don’t have much experience with it. For now I just somehow gritted my teeth and decided to forget that I dislike the class. For now it works.

  • http://www.yoursuccessprinciples.com Keith Raymond

    Finding life purpose is the determining factor in setting your goals and objectives in life. If a person lacks a clear purpose in their life, career or business it is difficult to set and achieve meaningful goals. Without a life that is purpose driven, people easily lose their direction and motivation or the will to continue when life throws them a curveball, when they hit a pothole or face difficult challenges.

    Without a life purpose, it is difficult to develop any sense of satisfaction for accomplishments along life’s path.

    Have you read, Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl?In it he gives us a clear connection between finding a purpose in life and goal setting.

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  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bacillus Catch The Dream ( Monir )

    This is an wonderful and inspiring post.

    Dear Scott, u could mail me at least. It’s not a problem for me to allow u to use a photo in the blog. However, I was not informed. I have made all rights reserved just for the sake of discouraging people to use my photos without permission. Of course I will give u permission, but I need to know that first! Recently, one of photo has been illegally used by GrameenPhone in Bangladesh in commercial purpose. They downloaded a photo of me and used it as a downloadable wallpaper in their WAP site. To download, u must pay a charge….and I am trying to reach the company authority.

    It’s very tough to stop such commercial robbery in internet….but for non commercial purpose like u people, we never hesitate to share.

    Just mail the photographer and request a permission. I’m sure they will give it.

    A great article….and take care.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bacillus Catch The Dream ( Monir )

    Nice post.

    You could at least mail me for permission!!

  • http://RickButts.com Internet Marketing Consultant

    This sounds really hard.

    I’ve never heard such a contrarian opinion on the subject of passion and responsibility.

    I suppose that all self examination and self improvement contain techniques for external manufacturing of behavior.

    Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful People talks about the futility and short term effect of external behavior modification vs changing our inner habits in a broader way.

    Thanks for making me think!
    Rick Butts

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  • http://mypyp.wordpress.com/ Hiren

    Very, very, interesting I must say. In my view, finding your calling in life can be quite tough but till you are able to do that, some of the suggestions that you have given to make things and life interesting are laudable. This is almost equivalent to a Zen presentation.

    In case you are interested, I have a blog “Make your passion your profession”- http://mypyp.wordpress.com/ which is also in the link. It has my 15 published articles on the subject. Awareness of the importance of passion is the first step.

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  • http://ctdeportes.blogspot.com/ Rubi Torres

    Great post.

    I have translated it to Spanish:

    http://ctdeportes.blogspot.com/2008/04/cmo-descubrir-su-pasin-para-todo.html

    Thank you.

  • http://www.persuasive.net AJ Kumar

    Leech Enthusiasm. Great thought. Enthusiasm sells and what is what most people buy!

  • http://ecigarettecigar.com/ electronic cigarette

    Give up perfectionism and your pursuits are much more enjoyable. I’m not attached to the results, but to the process which takes all the pressure off.

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  • http://www.energysmartindustry.com led lighting systems

    Anything that comes to mind, write it down.

  • http://www.mypromdresses.co.uk/ prom gowns

    I would hope to be back tracking. Thanks for the great write-up.

  • http://findingyourpassion.com.au Finding Your Passion

    Love the point on humility in confidence. Great tip. Humility opens eyes where arrogance blinds. Can’t find passion with your eyes closed!

  • http://findingyourpassion.com.au Find Passion

    I would also add – JUST START! Finding your passion can seem impossible when you’re stuck in analysis paralysis. Make a start on anything you think might be it, and find out by doing!

  • http://www.guyfarmer.com/lifecoach Guy Farmer

    Thank you for the great ideas Scott. People really owe it to themselves to find out what floats their boat and then live their lives based on those passions. When we live based on the things we love, living life takes less effort and new opportunities open up around us. As we go down our true path we simply increase our happiness and fulfillment.

  • http://www.timeformylife.com Thea Westra from www.timeformylife.com

    That’s an important article you’ve written. It comes down to responsibility and being willing to manage our own thoughts, to empower ourselves and those around us.
    “Thought allied fearlessly to purpose becomes creative force: he who knows this is ready to become something higher and stronger than a mere bundle of wavering thoughts and fluctuating sensations; he who does this has become the conscious and intelligent wielder of his mental powers.” -James Allen [http://freemindpowerbooks.com]
    I quite agree with the line: “If you really can’t enjoy something, find a way to eliminate it from your life. Don’t waste your time doing things you don’t enjoy. Either cultivate a passion or get rid of it.”
    Thank you for the excellent article, Scott.
    Cheers,
    Thea

  • http://www.discountbootsforwomen.com boots for women

    Thank you for the excellent article, Scott

  • http://www.BlissHabits.com Kathy Sprinkle

    I really like this article. So much I shared it in my “Passion Treasury”
    today. I really agree with the idea that Passion can be developed… I realized just this week that AWARENESS was a good place for me to start when ever I felt my passion waning.

    Thank you so much for the affirming post! If you have any other posts you think would be beneficial on the topic I would love to hear about them and you are welcome to add them to the treasury!

  • http://www.kevinvelasco.com Kevin Velasco

    I agree that passion can be created. After having experienced what the article says to do, I find it funny to realize that everything I am currently passionate about I once disliked or even hated!

  • Shoebox53

    Strange as it may seem…I love handing out Avon books.
    I’d like to turn it into a full time gig. Sometimes I collect and then sometimes I don’t.
    How can I clear my path to collect on all my orders?
    Any Ideas?
    Carol.

  • http://twitter.com/joyfulmeanings Melissa Burton

    I like the article! Especially the part about getting instruction. I wrote on a similar topic at my blog which extends what you are saying more. Great article though! Thanks for sharing :)
     http://www.joyfulmeanings.com/blog/2012/04/04/steps-towards-finding-your-passion-in-life/

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-ST9qTMn7g JP Morgan Jr

    This whole thing about “finding your passion” is a bit misleading I think. The truth is most people who live passionate lives don’t search for their passion (even within themselves), find it and then start living it. It just doesn’t work like that.I do like your idea of “creating” a passion. This is more spot on, but it’s pretty much the opposite of finding a passion. I believe passions evolve through our action and interaction with the world. I gave a talk recently that explains my approach anyway…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-ST9qTMn7gWould be cool to get your thoughts on it!- JP :o)

  • Jerry Alexander Quiros

    thanks for share these thoughts!…i agree with most of them.