Tag Archives: motivation

How to Find Your Life’s Passion

pathJust do things. That’s my answer to that question.

Just do things. That’s my answer to that question. Most advice about finding your passion tends to be either ‘follow your heart,’ or, ‘don’t follow your heart, they’re lying to you.’ What neither of these pieces of advice take into account is—how does your heart know what it loves? How do you know you’ll love being an astronaut if you’ve never done it? And how do you know a career as an archaeologist won’t surprise you?

We all know people who from birth knew what their passion was, achieved it, and love what they do. But we may also know people who achieved their dream and hate it. Lawyering bores them to tears. Charity work stresses them out more than they realized it would. Etc. And both of these types of people had to experience their passion in order to find this out. Your heart’s inclinations in and of themselves do not guarantee joy in what you do.

So if life is in fact rather capricious, leading you on to think your love of numbers would make you a great accountant when it really doesn’t, how do you find a passion at all?

First, let’s clear away the issue of whether we should have passions. We can argue all day about whether we should be searching for a passion in life. It is fair to say you should be practical and support yourself. It is fair to say you shouldn’t think of yourself only, but also of other people (as someone has to do the dirty work). It’s fair to tear down the myth of ‘following your heart.’ However, it is also undeniable that passion motivates us in a way nothing else does. We can’t ignore it completely, and force people to slot themselves into open careers like some kind of dictatorial sci-fi society.

But keep in mind that you can be passionate about more than what rises up in your dreams. You can be surprised about what enjoy (and what you don’t enjoy). And by having an open mind and trying all sorts of things you can feel out your way.

I thought I’d hate being a salesperson because I thought I’d hate being measured by sales targets. Then I discovered I really loved knowing exactly how well I was performing at any given moment, just by looking at my sales numbers. I also far exceeded my wildest sales expectations (which, admittedly, weren’t very high at first).

I thought I’d enjoy learning about computers, but I didn’t want to spend the thousands on education needed to work in the field. But an agency recruited me to work in a computer store, an opportunity that I definitely wasn’t sure about. After all, agency work can be unreliable, and my education had nothing to do with retail. But doing something is better than nothing, and it was something I’d always wanted to learn about. Several positions later I am still constantly using tech troubleshooting skills that I picked up, because I confirmed I really do have a passion for that kind of thing.

I thought I’d love having a worthwhile career that contributed to society and was indispensable, so I went to nursing school. I learned all of the abstract reasoning of selflessness did not translate into me being a good nurse.

And presently I have made another major life decision—to go back to school to study theology. I know I have a passion for the subject, but I don’t know that that passion will translate into academic study on a daily basis. It may not. I’ll find out.

If you already have a passion and a reasonable opportunity to pursue, go for it. If you have a passion and there’s no open opportunities at the moment, you have an opportunity to try something else. Experience something new. Don’t go and try something you know you’ll hate, but if you can’t do something you know you’ll love, do something you don’t know if you’ll love or hate. Experience allows you to find out.

And if you’re really groping in the dark, as I’ve been for periods of my life, you can’t sit back and wait till you’re one-hundred-percent sure you’ve found your passion before you do anything. Granted, life usually doesn’t let you sit back and do nothing (bills to pay and all that), but ESPECIALLY if nothing sounds appealing you’ve just got to try things. Try to pick things that might lead to other things to try.

Because after all you don’t find your passion by looking deep inside and thinking as hard as you can about what your heart is telling you. Your heart doesn’t know what’s out there in the world. Your heart is ruling out a thousand careers you didn’t even know existed, simply because you haven’t heart of them. Go out and discover what you didn’t know before.

Passion springs from being busy, not from sitting still.


What do you think?



Filed under Randoms & My Life

The Pleasures of Not Writing

by Paul Fischer. {PD}

by Paul Fischer. {PD}

“The pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again”

—John Updike.

This quote grabbed me because it is something I’ve been struggling with a lot lately – I’ve managed to keep writing a fair amount, but each step is a momentous struggle of motivation.

This isn’t uncommon for writers, I don’t think. Every once in a while it just seems far easier to quit trying to pour out your soul on paper. And everything else starts to look more attractive than staring at a blank page – going out with friends who called you up at the last moment, reading someone else’s blog, or going outside to lie in the sunshine (now that winter is over). And I firmly resist always giving in to these temptations, because if I let all these attractive things have their way every time they pop up, my time for writing will slowly evaporate.

But what John Updike writes is both true and not true. Not writing is terribly attractive, and entirely possible if you let the demands of life take over your attempts at writing. But so far in my life, I keep coming back to writing, over and over, despite having giving it up in despair many times.

That is why I call myself a writer (or, one of the many reason I do, anyway). Why would I keep coming back to it if there wasn’t something inside me that drove me to writing? Giving it up could be so simple, and yet I have never done it.

Still, this quote drives home the point that writing takes discipline. Many people call themselves ‘writers’ because they have a book in their head, but they’ve never actually put a pen to paper. I could continue to call myself a writer, and let my inner writing drive drive me to throw a paragraph down once in a while.

But to produce actual writing that other people want to read, and find useful or interesting or thought-provoking, takes discipline. The discipline to keep going, word after word, until you have just thewriting quote right amount of words to convey the idea you want to get across. Then the discipline, to re-write, edit, re-think, and struggle until that idea comes through crystal-clear. And then the discipline to keep throwing that chunk of writing to places where other people will see it, and to hunt down publishers and promoters until you reach the audience you wrote it for. And this discipline is what many writers struggle with. Writing is a journey in self-motivation, after all.

So keep up that struggle, writers! There are enough non-writers out there already. And for those of you out there who are readers, I’m sure you’re glad, in the same way I am, that so many great writers didn’t give in to the pleasure of not writing.

Writers – have you ever been tempted towards not writing? Readers – which book are you really glad an author managed to motivate his or herself to churn out?

1 Comment

Filed under On Writing, Quotables