Far from the ages where people worked and lived simply to survive, today we are encouraged to 'follow our passion'.
But what does that even mean? For some, it's an easy process; they have known from a young age what they are passionate about, and what they want to do about it. They may turn it into a career, or simply keep it as a hobby on the side.
But if you're someone who has never really known what it's like to be passionate about something, discovering your passion is a lot harder.
You might drift from job to job, getting bored of what you do and dreading having to go into the office every day. You might rely on small highs to feel good, whether it be from relationships, drama, alcohol or something else.
But you're not doomed to a boring existence, void of passion and excitement. All you need to do is find a passion to center your life around.
Why Find a Passion?
What makes finding a passion such an important part of life? It is a major driver for many people, and for good reason.
Finding a passion can lead to increased self-esteem and productivity, even if the passion is not directly related to employment. However, a job that you are passionate about also leads to less conflict in family life.
It can alleviate the boredom and apathy that many people experience in regards to daily life. We all know someone who lives for the weekend and parties their life away, and it is most likely this person who hasn't discovered a passion, or perhaps hasn't followed it through.
Being passionate gives you a reason to get up in the morning. Research continues to support having purpose and passion as being protective against substance abuse, depression, suicide ideation and poor self-esteem.
Finding your passion doesn't have to be crazy complicated. In fact, all you need to do to start off is explore what you enjoy or are interested in.
It doesn't need to be something you've done before, but just something that makes you think, “Hmm, that might be fun to try!”
So you might have a quick Google of local hobbies and businesses in your local area. After reading through a few of the offerings, you may decide you like the sound of pottery, pole-dancing, MMA and meditation.
Now for the fun part!
Trial and Error
You will never know what you enjoy if you never try anything new. That's why this is my favorite step! Instead of sitting on the couch dreaming of an exciting life, it's time to go out and try it on for size!
So, you go and book trial classes of each of the hobbies you found in your initial search.
It's important to not give up on them just because they seem hard. In fact, everything is hard when you're a beginner, from hobbies to driving and even a new job. So, give each a decent go, and see what you enjoy.
After some experimentation, you might find that group meditation isn't your preference; you may prefer meditating solo at home. Pottery bores you, and you don't have room for any more misshapen clay bowls in your house. Your local MMA classes are fun and high-energy, but aren't run at a convenient time for this term, so you decide to try again next term when the timetable changes.
But pole-dancing becomes your new favorite activity. Mastering your first trick was the proudest you have been of yourself in years. You start off with one class a week, and pretty soon you're there five days a week, trying out new routines, buying massive heels and short-shorts, and you have a new circle of best friends.
Whenever anyone brings up pole-dancing, your eyes light up, and you tell them all the amazing benefits you've experienced. Congratulations! You might have just found yourself a new passion!
Can You Make a Living off It?
The one thing that many people look for in a passion is some way to make money off it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but often people go about it the wrong way.
So, with our example of pole-dancing, after a while you might want to use it to bring in an income. But you watch competitions, tell yourself you're never going to be as good as the competitors, and therefore you'll never win the prize money, and you give up.
But there are many ways you can monetize a passion. Maybe you can train to become a pole-dancing teacher. You could create a website or blog that discusses pole-dancing, including the local events and profiles on competitors, and get the local studios to pay for ads on the site.
You might even find a way to combine passions. If you love pole-dancing and have always also been a natural with a camera, you could build a small business around photographing pole-dancing competitions and performances.
Not Giving Up
When it comes to establishing something you're passionate about in life, the one thing you need to remember is to not just give up when the work gets hard.
Maybe two studios refuse your proposal for paid ads, which leaves you feeling down about your site idea. This is where a lot of people give up on a passion, and where they lose out.
But if you persist, the third studio might give you a trial period while you build your followers, and with a few well-placed Instagram posts and Facebook ads, you're on your way to being able to share your love of pole-dancing with the world.
What is the end-game of this hard work, effort, sweat, blood and tears? It’s being able to spend your time doing what you love.
If pole-dancing is your passion, and you spend your weeks photographing competitions, writing reviews and interviewing pole-dancers about their lives, you will never feel like you're 'working.’ It's far more like fun!
After all, as the saying goes: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Does that make finding your passion a worth-while project? I certainly believe so, but the choice is yours.