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Why I Stopped Asking What is My Passion

Society is full of messages that we need to find and follow your passion. Entrepreneurs and startup mentors shout from the rooftops saying you need to find the answer to ‘what is my passion’ before starting the entrepreneurial journey. I’m here to object to all that and give you a different way in. A way that is much more open, opportunistic and real. A way that actually helps you to live a more fulfilling life without forcing you to make your life about one specific activity and thing.

What is my passion

Image by Anieto2k (flickr)

Personally, there were three clear moments in my life which made me realise that asking myself ‘what is my passion’ was the backwards way of thinking. The first of these was when I decided to go study Equine and Business Management at university because I thought following my passion for horses would lead me to a successful, fulfilling career. Within weeks I knew this was the wrong path for me. As I tried to make horses my whole life, I stopped enjoying them because they became my work. They were no longer my escape from the world that just enabled me to enjoy them, they were now something that I would have to monetise eventually. I quickly realised this wasn’t what I wanted. I transferred to a London university and put my horse in a competition stables in North London so that I could focus my studies on business management yet still continue to train and compete with my horse. This was the first time I realised ‘follow your passion’ wasn’t as straightforward as people made it sound.

The second of these times came to me 1.5 years into my corporate career when I had a coaching session to decide which direction I wanted my career to go. I was on a great patch climbing the career ladder, finding it fairly enjoyable and challenging, and getting lots of praise from my coworkers. Yet I felt something was missing. I felt that there was no passion there and I didn’t feel fulfilled. Many observers told me I was insane to even consider leaving the company I worked for, especially as I was doing so well in it. But I knew something had to change. This coaching session made me realise I wanted more from life than I had then and I wanted more passion in my life. I knew from my previous experience with the horses that ‘follow your passion’ wasn’t going to get me out of this so I had to really think out of the box. At the same time I had discovered positive psychology which I’d absolutely fallen in love with. I decided this could be a path that could help me set my future path – so off I went to complete a Masters of Science in Applied Positive Psychology. And what did I decide to research for my massive thesis project? Passion! I wanted to immerse myself in the topic and gain a better understanding of it.

The third time when I realised ‘what is my passion’ wasn’t the right question to ask was towards the end of completing my research. I was sitting in a room with my research partner telling him about some of my main findings so far. I was surprised by how people spoke about being passionate about many things and this hadn’t been the answer I was expecting to hear. Then my research partner said something that would change my view of passion forever. He said maybe these people don’t have a one and only passion but instead choose to pursue passion as a way of being. And that’s when I saw a whole new image of passion on front of me. I finally understood passion was a form of positive enervy inside each and every one of us and it was up to us to unlock it. It didn’t have to be tied to one activity or thing but we could choose to be passionate about anything we wanted if we knew what the keys to unlocking were. And that’s when I truly started to see what people had been telling me in my research interviews. That’s when I realised they had given me those keys. And those five keys are shared, explored and discussed in depth in my book Screw Finding Your Passion.

I urge you to do the same I did. I urge you to stop asking ‘what is my passion’ and replace it with ‘how do I unlock my passion’. Why? Because learning to be passionate across your life rather than simply with one thing is going to lead you to a whole new type of fulfilling, meaningful happiness you’ve never experienced before.

Now I want to hear from you. Have you had similar experiences yourself in which you realised ‘what is my passion’ isn’t the right question for you to ask? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post please share it, like it, tweet it, pin it – and you’ll help other people to realise the question they should be asking is ‘how do I unlock my passion’ and help them discover a more fulfilling happiness.

Good luck in your adventures and until next week!

Happy Regards,

Susanna :)

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  • Andy Staab says:

    Susanna, I enjoy this post very much. Many years ago I received a camera for a graduation gift. I found I really enjoyed photography. After a few years, I decided to go to professional photography school and pursue a career in photography. I finished training and began shooting professionally part time. I came to resent photography because it had become a job and the passion was gone. Fortunately, I recognized what happened and so I still had my day job and made photography my own personal aspiration. I love photography again!

    I think part of our problem is that our identity is wrapped up in what we do rather than who we are. Focusing on what we do, career-wise, is like chasing passion, hoping to catch it. Focusing on who we are is kind of like being passionate in all things.

    – Andy

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this Andy – and thank you for sharing your story too! Sounds like what happened with me and horses happened with you and photography!
      Loving your last line there on ‘focusing on who we are is like being passionate in all things’ – Spot on! :)

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