How to Find Your Passion

Five Parts:Examining Where You AreLaying the GroundworkUsing Your Interests to Your AdvantageTrying New ThingsImplementing Your Passion at Work

Your passion is the reason you wake up in the morning, and just the thought of it can keep you up late with excitement. Passion can also be a quieter feeling of satisfaction, knowing you’re living life on your terms. However, not everyone knows exactly what his or her passion is right away. Don't worry -- whether you're looking for your passion to find a new career, or if you're looking to get completely immersed in a new hobby or activity, there are a number of things you can do to find your passion.

Part 1
Examining Where You Are

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    Think about what motivates your decisions. Many people often end up listening too much to their “social selves,” the part of your personality that wants to fit in, be thought of well by others, and follow rules. While it’s healthy to want to be part of a larger community, if you end up basing all your decisions on what other people think is right for you, you’ll end up feeling like you’ve missed your purpose.[1]
    • This can happen at any time in your life, but you may be especially vulnerable when you’re younger because you may feel compelled to listen to your parents or other authority figures.[2]
    • Stop “shoulding” yourself. This phrase comes from psychologist Clayton Barbeau, who coined the idea to describe what happens when you let external pressures shape what you think you “should” do.[3] This can make you feel unhappy and dissatisfied with your choices because they are coming from a place of guilt and fear, rather than choice.[4] Try thinking about what you want to do, not what you feel you “should” do because someone else has told you that you should do it.
    • “Passion” comes from authenticity, feeling like you’re honoring yourself in your decisions rather than trying to be or satisfy someone else. This is highly personal, and no one else can tell you what feels “authentic” to you; only you can decide that. [5]
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    Figure out your values. Your values are your core beliefs in life. They can be religious or spiritual, but they can also be reflective of your personality and what most satisfies you.[6] Research has shown that when you aren’t living in accordance with your values, you can feel unhappy and unmotivated. You may also procrastinate more because you don’t find your activities meaningful.[7][8]
    • It can be difficult to figure out what you value in life if you’ve never given it much thought -- or if others’ needs and desires have always taken priority over your own. Take some time to examine your past experiences and think about what made you feel “right” about your life.[9]
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    Ask yourself some self-reflective questions. Many people have never sat down to really figure out what their values are. Take some time for yourself and ask yourself what things feel “right” to you, and what activities do not feel right to you. [10][11]
    • Think about times when you felt happiest. What were you doing back then? Who were you with? Why do you think that event or situation contributed to your feeling of happiness? What can you do to bring that feeling into other areas of your life?[12]
    • Think about times when you felt fulfilled and satisfied. What needs or desires were fulfilled? What was meaningful about this time or experience to you? Why do you think that was so?
    • Are there any topics that get you fired up when you think or talk about them? What do you think affects you about these topics?[13]
    • Consider what you would save if your house was on fire (and all your people and pets were already safe). What meaning do those items have to you? What does that say about what’s important to you?[14]
    • If you could change just one thing about your family, community, workplace, neighborhood, or even the world what would you change and why would you change it?
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    Look for patterns and themes in your answers. Once you’ve thought about your answers to the questions (and even come up with your own questions, if you like), examine your answers. What appears to make you happy and to add purpose to your life? What is not as satisfying as you thought? Have a look at the list of common values at MindTools to help you figure things out.[15]
    • For example, perhaps you remember feeling proud of yourself when you had accomplished something on your own. This suggests possible values like independence, self-reliance, and ambition.
    • You might also have felt most fulfilled when you were able to express yourself through your artwork. This suggests possible values like creativity, exploration, and vision.
    • Perhaps you felt the happiest when you were able to help your children with their homework, or help a neighbor with their yardwork. This suggests possible values like support, community and contributing positively to society.
    • Remember that your values are yours. Don’t judge them by anyone else’s standards. Some people value Spontaneity or Competitiveness, others value Structure or Teamwork. Neither is “better” than the other.
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    Think about what you love to do. Take a look at your life and see if you're already doing something that you love -- but just not doing it very often. Figuring out what you really love to do and channeling it in a productive way that turns it into a passion can help you explore your heart's desires. Here are some of the things to ask yourself:[16]
    • What are my goals?
    • What do I do most of the time?
    • What do I keep on trying to do?
    • What draws me?
    • If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, what would it be?
    • What do I love to do?
    • What would I do, even if I didn't get paid to do it?
    • What makes me feel like nothing else exists?
    • What activity makes me feel completely in my element?
    • What am I doing when I feel “right” or “beautiful” or “connected”?
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    Think about what you've always dreamed of doing. This is different from making a list of all of the things that make you happy. You will have to write down all of those things you've always dreamed about, but haven't done because you don't have the time, the money, or because they're impractical or even slightly scary. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
    • What is the one thing I have always dreamed about, but never got to do?
    • What did I want to do when I was a child?
    • Do I have an impractical dream that I once abandoned?
    • What do I love reading or daydreaming about?
    • Is there something I've been afraid to try because it takes me out of my comfort zone?
    • Is there something I've been wanting to do but haven't done because of financial fears?
    • Is there something I've always wanted to do but haven't tried because I've been afraid I'd fail or just not be very good at it?
    • Is there something that someone I know does that thrills me?
    • What would I do if I had no constraints?
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    Try a vision board. A vision board -- also called a dream board or a creativity board -- can be a helpful way to prompt your passions. Some people are more visual thinkers and respond well to collecting things that represent meaningful ideas.[17]
    • Collect images and inspiring quotes that represent what is meaningful to you. Who do you want to be? What do you want out of your life? What do you want to create or make?
    • You can also make a virtual vision board on a site like Pinterest.
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    Decide what matters most to you. Life is about compromise. You will not have the time or energy to do everything, but it is important to decide what your priorities are.[18] Figuring out what you value most in life will save you the frustration of trying to have everything, which just isn’t feasible.[19]
    • Is it important that you are passionate about your career? You may have to sacrifice in other areas of your life, such as hobbies or even financial security.
    • Is it important to you to have the money to pursue a passion for travel or another hobby? You may have to take a solid, well-paying but less exciting job to pay for it.
    • Be as specific as possible. “Happiness” and “Success” are too vague to be helpful. Try to use your reflection on your values and enjoyments as a guide to figuring out what makes you happy.
    • Regardless of the trade-offs and compromises you make, you will feel more satisfied -- and therefore more passionate when you are in control of your choices. No one's expectations of you are behind the wheel, but you are.

Part 2
Laying the Groundwork

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    Set a goal. This can be a huge goal, such as “find a new job,” or a smaller goal such as “take an art class.” To help you set a goal that you’re likely to accomplish, consider the following:
    • Who is responsible for achieving this goal? Most of the time, this will be you, but if your goal includes others -- such as “spend more time with my family” -- they’ll also be responsible for accomplishing it.
    • What are the details of your goal? One of the reasons people don’t accomplish their goals is because they’re too vague. Be as concrete as possible. For example, “Learn to be artistic” is too big. “Take a painting class to explore my artistic side” is more manageable.
    • When will you have each step of the goal accomplished? Many goals, especially big or complex ones, need multiple stages. Figure out exactly when you will have each step finished. For example: “Look for art classes in my community this week. Sign up for a class and buy supplies next week. Begin taking classes the week after that.”
    • Where will these goals take place? For many goals, such as “exercise more,” having an idea of where you will do the work can be helpful. For example, if you want to exercise three times per week, decide whether you want to go to the gym, go running, exercise at home, or take a class.
    • How will you accomplish each stage? This helps you define the goal’s framework. For example, if your goal is “Go to France,” figure out what actions you will need to take at each stage, such as “look at travel guides and websites,” “talk with friends who’ve been to France,” “book reservations,” “get a passport,” etc.
    • Why are you doing this? Clarifying your motivation makes you more likely to accomplish your goal. What will accomplishing this goal do to help you achieve your passion?
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    Commit to staying off the “Isle of Yeah-but.” Self-help guru Martha Beck uses this phrase to describe the fear that can keep you from trying out new things. The “yeah” is the excitement or inspiration that drives you to seek your passion. The “but” is the intrusion of fear that keeps you from pursuing it.[20]
    • The next time you find yourself thinking, “Yeah, traveling the world/building a birdhouse/finding a new job would be great, but….” stop right there.
    • Ask yourself: is the “but,” or the obstacle or roadblock, really something you can’t overcome? Or will it just take a little creativity to work around?
    • For example, your goal might be “I’d love to travel the world, but I don’t have the money.” This may seem like an impossible obstacle, but there are ways to work around it. Save up the money with your goal in mind. Sell all your belongings and use the profits to go. Hitchhike and rely on the kindness of strangers. There are always ways to do what is important to you.
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    Practice mindfulness. One of the biggest things that can kill a pursuit of your passion is fear.[21] When fear drives your decisions, you don’t take risks or allow yourself to be vulnerable. Vulnerability and openness are key to connecting, both with yourself and with others.[22] Fearfulness often happens when you focus so much on what could happen that you don’t accept what’s happening right now. Practicing mindfulness can help you with this.[23]
    • Practice naming your fear. Don’t judge it! Just acknowledge whatever it is you’re feeling at the moment. For example, “I’m feeling scared of taking this risk because it might not work out.”[24] Then, comfort yourself with a few self-affirmations, such as “I cannot control how things work out. I can only control my own actions.”
    • Don’t try to repress your fear. Repressing an emotion will only make it reappear stronger. Instead, try sitting with your emotion for the moment. Explore how it feels. Be kind to yourself and remind yourself that it’s natural to feel all emotions, including being afraid.[25]
    • Try mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation can help you explore your feelings without judging them, which can help you work past your feelings of fear. UCLA offers free downloadable MP3 guided meditations.[26] You can also find free videos and tutorials at the Harvard Pilgrim website.[27]
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    Be patient with yourself. Finding your passion means experimenting, and experimenting can take time. You may have to try a several ideas before you find one that “clicks” with you. Many people fail to find their passion because they don’t stick with the search when it gets tough.[28][29]
    • Accept that you may hit roadblocks and challenges along the way. That’s okay! Treat every challenge as a learning experience. When you truly find your passion, you will have amassed a wealth of experience and education from having pursued it.
    • Be kind to yourself, too. Some people may judge your passion; they may think it’s silly, ignorant, unwise, or just boring. Don’t let anyone else’s criticism stand in your way, as your passion is yours. You don’t owe anyone but yourself an explanation for your choices.[30]

Part 3
Using Your Interests to Your Advantage

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    Rekindle a childhood passion. You may feel like your life has become too routine or boring for you to have time for dreams and passions, but there must have been a point in your life when you had a real dream to pursue something courageous and exciting. Think back to your childhood self, and the things you used to dream about doing when you were a kid or even an adolescent. See if you can find a way to reconnect with these passions.[31]
    • If you always wanted to be an astronaut, then maybe this idea doesn't appeal to you quite as much anymore. Think about why the idea appealed to you in the first place -- maybe because it involved exploring space, science, or adventure -- and see if you can find a new passion out of that.
    • Be brave. If you wanted to be a singer or an actress, it's never too late to try to fulfill your dreams.
    • Unfortunately, you may have to take a practical approach in some cases. If you wanted to be an Olympic gymnast when you were ten and you're forty now, it's unlikely that there's a gold medal in your future. If you were once really passionate about gymnastics, see if you can involve yourself in it in some other way, such as being a trainer, coach, or being involved at a gym in some capacity.
    • If you were lucky enough to keep a journal when you were younger, go through it. See what passions sparked your fancy, and what dreams you wrote about again and again.
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    Combine your talents. Maybe you have more than one talent. Perhaps you’re really great at BMX stunts and you love to write. Could you see yourself writing books on BMX riding and tricks, or true stories about how those riders started out doing what they love? Here are a few other ways to combine your talent:
    • Maybe you love to write poetry as well as interpretive dance; could you interpret one of your poems, or write a poem about your love for dance?
    • If you're a talented writer, make the most of your writing skills. If you love something, blogging about it or making a website about it will help you share your passion, use your writing skills, and develop your love for what you're doing.
    • If you have a passion for languages and an unrelated field, such as eco-business, see if you can use your language skills to work as a translator or interpreter in that field.
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    Turn a beloved hobby into a full-time passion. If there's already something in your life that fills you with excitement, joy, and self-worth, why not try turning that hobby or activity into a full-time endeavor? Though it may scare you to make a big life change, if you know there's something you already love, spend more time pursuing it to see if it's your passion.
    • Your hobby could be anything, from ceramics, painting, or poetry, to teaching yoga or screen printing.
    • If you can't make money with your passion (like running marathons, for example), then you can find a way to make that hobby the central passion of your life by getting involved in the running world in some other way.
    • You can transition slowly into spending more time doing your favorite hobby to see if it's your passion. If you're afraid to drop everything and devote yourself to this hobby full time, then take baby steps.
    • Remember that you are not required to do something for a living to make it your passion. If you love marathons but can’t find a way to turn them into a career, just train and run!
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    Do the thing you've always dreamed about. No matter how gutsy, risky, or impractical that thing may be, you should work hard to make your dream a reality. Who knows -- maybe you'll try salsa dancing and will realize it’s not the thing for you, or you'll travel to the Galapagos Islands and will feel uninspired. However, it is more likely that by being brave and doing the thing you've always dreamed about, you'll be lighting that spark that ignites you.
    • Be determined to pursue your dream, in spite of practical and financial constraints. Make a plan that allows you to try your dream out, even if it's only for a little while. It could take a while to save up to pursue this dream or to make the proper arrangements, but it will be worth it.
    • If you're afraid to try the new thing, like climbing to the top of a mountain, ask your friends for their support. You don't have to try something new and scary alone.
    • Start talking about what you're going to do before you do it. If you really wanted to build your own treehouse, start telling everyone about it. This will get you closer to making your dreams a reality. You'll be less likely to back down if everyone knows you want to pursue your dreams.

Part 4
Trying New Things

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    Try a new sport. You may not know it, but your true passion could be mountain biking or archery. Though you may think you only like to go jogging once in a while, you'll never know what your true passion is until you try. Trying a new sport will get your adrenaline running, will make you more excited about the world, and will also be a great form of exercise. If you find you really love this sport, you can end up being a teacher, a coach, or even start sharing your love for the sport with devoted followers online. Here are some things to try:
    • Dancing. Take a class in salsa, ballroom dancing, foxtrot, hip hop, or anything you can think of.
    • Yoga. Take a variety of yoga classes to see if this is your life's calling.
    • Running. You can just run on your own and see how great it feels, or you can set a goal of training for a 5K and work your way up to a marathon.
    • Swimming. Not only is swimming a fantastic full-body workout, but you may also find that your head clears and your body feels like it's exactly where it's supposed to be when you're in the water. Swimming in a lake or an ocean can also make you feel more in touch with nature.
    • Martial arts. Take a karate or jujitsu class and see how it makes you feel.
    • Team sports. Join a bowling, baseball, softball, soccer, or volleyball league and find your passion for a new sport as well as the joy of sharing it with others.
    • Less-traditional sports. Try curling, archery, mountain biking, skateboarding, or any other sport that has always intrigued you.
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    Explore your artistic side. You may have a wonderful artistic side without even knowing it. To explore your artistic side, you can try painting, writing, acting, singing, or designing clothes, just to name a few things. There are a number of things that you can do to find your inner artist.
    • Play an instrument. Maybe you loved playing the piano when you were a kid and stopped. Give it another try.
    • Write. Try your hand at penning a play, poem, short story, or even a novel. You may find that you have more to say than you think.
    • Act. You don't have to be Jennifer Lawrence to try acting, whether you just have fun staging a play with a few friends, or try to join a local theatre company.
    • Sing. If you've always had a passion for singing but never had time to share your voice with others, this is it. You can also join a chorus or an a cappella group if singing in a group is more your thing.
    • Draw, paint, or sculpt. Use a variety of tools to either sketch a drawing, paint a landscape, or create a sculpture. You may be able to find your true passion by working with your hands.
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    Pick up a new hobby. There are a variety of hobbies that may not require any athletic or artistic skill that can still turn into a passion for you. Whether you want to be a coin collector or pick up a new language, any new hobby you pursue can turn into a real passion for you. Here are some hobbies you can consider:[33]
    • Birdwatching. You can connect with nature while learning a lot about the animal kingdom. If you're passionate about this, you can write a book or lead bird-watching expeditions.
    • Pet grooming. Maybe you've always loved pets -- now is your time to turn your hobby into a full - time passion. Or maybe you just want to spend more time connecting with your own pet. That’s great too!
    • Learn a new language. You can pick up a language just for fun. You might even find that you're living and breathing foreign words. Convert this to a passion by working as a translator or getting so absorbed in the foreign language that you read and watch movies only in that language or even move to a foreign country because of it.
    • Cooking. You may be taking your stellar cooking skills for granted. If you already love cooking, start watching more cooking shows, reading food blogs, and sharing your recipes with your friends and see if you can make your love for tasty cuisine into a full-time passion.
    • Carpentry. You may be a whiz at building furniture but only do it once in a while. See if you can turn your skills into a passion by building an entire room of furniture, or even starting a small furniture-making business. Many people find building furniture or carving beautiful things soothing, even spiritual. (Just ask Nick Offer man, better known as Ron Swanson from “Parks and Recreation.”[34])
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    Get out of your comfort zone. If you're having trouble finding your passion, it may be because you're so used to doing the same old thing that you’ve gotten too comfortable. This is a real psychological phenomenon: being comfortable leads to steady performance, but being too “in the comfort zone” stifles exploration and creativity.[35] If you really want to find your passion, then you'll have to test yourself and step out of your comfort zone to find the thing that really appeals to you. Here are some things to try:
    • Try an extreme activity, such as bungee jumping, sky diving, or zip-lining. You may find a new love for this crazy activity.
    • Do something you don't think you're good at. If you think you're a terrible dancer, cook, knitter, or writer, try spending one hour a week on this act. You could surprise yourself by discovering a new skill and even a new passion.
    • If you're artistically minded, try something more logical, like crossword puzzles or chess. If you're very practical, try something artistic with less rigid rules, like oil painting or yodeling.
    • If you're convinced that you're tone deaf, pick up an instrument. Learn to play the piano, flute, or even the recorder and see how this opens up your world.
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    Travel. Traveling can be a great way to open up your world and find a passion with new eyes. Though your budget may restrict you from extensive traveling, you should do what you can to go to a completely new place and see a new way of living, eating, and breathing. Whether you're traveling to a new state or across the world, this can help you find something that you're passionate about.
    • You may find that your true passion is travel. If you find out that you have wanderlust, make the most of it and plan a yearly -- or even a monthly -- trip.
    • Take lots of photos when you travel. You may even find that your new passion is photography!
    • Get inspired. Use your surroundings to find your passion. If you're on a beach in Florida, you may find that your new passion is shell collecting; if you're touring the Louvre in Paris, you may find that your new passion is fine art.
    • Don’t rely on your surroundings to do the work for you. If you don’t have the money to travel to far-flung places, take a “staycation” in your own neighborhood! Approach it as you would if you were a tourist. Go to a bar or a shop you’ve never been to. Do some people-watching at a cafe. Speak to a random stranger on the street. Changing your perspective can really change your life.
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    Volunteer in your community. If you the time to volunteer in your community, you may find that you have a new passion! There are a variety of ways to volunteer in your community: you can help people develop their writing and reading skills at your local library, volunteer at your local soup kitchen, or help clean up a park in your community.
    • If you help clean up a park, you can find a new passion for gardening.
    • If you help people learn to read, you may develop a passion for teaching reading, or teaching in general.
    • If you work at a homeless shelter, you may develop a love for helping people in need.
    • If you take a leadership role in a volunteering event, such as organizing people to work at a clothing drive, then you may find a passion for leadership.
    • If you volunteer on an organic farm, you might discover a passion for growing things. Check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) to find opportunities.[36]
    • You can check out websites like VolunteerMatch to help you find volunteer opportunities near you.[37] Websites like GoAbroad and Projects Abroad can help you find volunteer opportunities in other countries.[38][39]
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    Try new things with the help of others. You may have a friend who is obsessed with archery or creating comic books, or a family member who is the best dessert chef in the country. Let the people you know, or the teachers in your community, help you explore a new talent or passion.
    • Let one of your friends who is really passionate about something give you a tutorial, whether it's robotics or flower arranging. Your friend's passion for that activity or skill will inspire you.
    • Have your family member introduce you to his favorite thing in the world, whether it's fixing motorcycles, or fishing. You'll be surprised by how passionate you may feel about something you knew about for years.
    • Take a class. Whether you're taking an art class or a class on the history of the USSR, you may find that having a teacher or professional explain a concept to you ignites your passion. Sign up for any class that sounds intriguing, whether it's at a community college, online, or at a local rec center, and prepare to be inspired.
    • Read. Reading a book by an expert in a certain field or a person who is truly passionate about something can help you ignite your own passion.

Part 5
Implementing Your Passion at Work

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    Do your research. Read up on your new passion. Talk with people who have experienced it for themselves. Check out books from the library. Take classes. The more you know about your passion, the better-equipped you’ll be to make the transition.[40]
    • For example, if you’ve decided to start your own business, you need to know how to do that. What skills do you need? What funding, products, etc., will you need to set up before you can open your doors?
    • Talking with people in the career or area you feel passionate about can be extremely helpful. Generally, people are happy to give you advice and tell you how they’ve made their way. They can also tell you the less-exciting stuff about your new passion, which is important to know now so it doesn’t surprise you later.
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    Avoid jumping into a new job just on instinct. It can be incredibly tempting to ditch your old unfulfilling job and dive headfirst into the new career you’ve just discovered. However, it’s a good idea to test your new discovery before leaving the stability of your old job. Everyone can be passionate about something new and exciting for a few days. When you discover the unpleasant or even dull aspects of your new discovery and still love it, that’s when you know it’s right for you.[41]
    • For example, becoming a chef might seem like the ideal career for you, but it’s easy to glamorize something when you’re not living in it day to day. Taking a culinary class -- or even enrolling in culinary school -- will familiarize you with the nitty-gritty details, such as the insanely long hours, hot kitchens, and generally low pay. Once you know the worst about your new interest and still can’t imagine yourself doing anything else, you can feel confident that you’ve found a real passion.
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    Commit to leaving when it just feels wrong. If you feel stuck at a dead-end job that fulfills none of your needs except paying the rent every month, commit to finding something else. You may even find that quitting before you’ve found another job motivates you to work harder.[42] This is because of a little something called the “zone of optimal anxiety,” a psychological phenomenon where being in an unfamiliar situation causes just enough anxiety to make you work harder and think more creatively.[43]
    • Be aware, however, that too much stress is as bad for your performance as too little. If you leave your unfulfilling job without any savings or other ideas and have a mortgage, student loans, and your kid’s tuition to cover, you might find yourself overwhelmed with so much stress that you can’t function.[44]


  • Take a day off from everything. Isolate yourself from the world for a little while. Spend a day with no technology, no chores, no cleaning, no friends, relatives, not even family. Unplug the TV, turn off your cell and your phone. Imagine you have no deadlines, no mortgage to pay, no worries, and no other tasks. Relax for a few moments and then pay attention to your thoughts. Does your mind envision the next great gadget? Do you see yourself building your own business, or designing the next Dymaxion house? Do you feel like starting that project you have been thinking about for the past five years?
  • Take as long as you need to. Your ideas may not come to mind right away, but eventually, you will find that you already are passionate about something, you just need to trust your instincts. If it feels right, give it a shot.
  • If you find that you're not enjoying some of your old hobbies as much as you used to, that's okay. As humans, we are constantly growing and changing, and we never stay the same for very long.
  • Keep a diary and write down whatever thought or desires come to mind. Write what makes you really excited, then go through them all and find the ones that you could achieve and actually pursue. Plan your success and journey to achieve this idea.
  • Something you do as a hobby can quickly become a grind if you decide to try to make a living at it. If it turns out that doing it full time makes you love it less, consider returning to your previous duties. Take a vacation from your "passion" activity for awhile, then try it again to see if you can rediscover your love for it.
    • For example, you may have loved ice cream as a child, but once you have worked at an ice cream shop for five years, you may find that working at the shop kills your love for ice cream. If this is the case, it's advisable to take a break from working at the ice cream shop and trying something else for awhile, and eventually going back in and rediscovering your love for ice cream.


  • Don't just dive into an instinct full force. Everything takes patience, careful planning, and a lot of dedication.

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