I’ve just returned from a trip to Europe (which is why we haven’t had any updates, sorry). I highly recommend that you visit Trier if you happen travel around western Germany or Luxembourg in summer—the green hills just make you feel as if you had ventured right into the heart of Hobbiton; and the home of Karl Marx and Emperor Constantine offers a tranquil break from the hustle and bustle of the bigger European cities. I’m still in travel mode, but I’ll stop before this whole post turns into a crappy travel guide. Now let’s switch the topic to discovering your passion.
What we’re talking about is the discovery of an activity (such as a skill) that you have a burning desire to pursue. Not every activity should be sought for the purpose of accumulating riches, but earning a living from something that you love to do and are passionate about can grant you both time and the necessary resources to keep pursuing that passion.
Now, we human beings tend to be quite indecisive regarding what we want to keep doing in the long term. We often start something and end up quitting before we’ve even gained a rudimentary understanding of what it is that we’re doing. But the awesome thing about indecision is that it instinctively shields us against things that we really don’t want to keep doing. The real problem is that many of us don’t really know how to discover our passion, and often end up having no passion at all—for the rest of our lives.
Dabble until you score
The first thing we should do is try various things and not be afraid of becoming a jack of all trades and master of none. It’s better to invest time in finding an activity that really suits you than to settle for something that doesn’t fully satisfy you.
There’s really nothing wrong with dabbling in many things. If you think that you are just wasting time, you’re not, because every unfitting skill and activity brings you closer to your passion. So let these experiences naturally take you to your destination. Eliminate the wrong ones, one by one. They are necessary lessons that act as beacons.
If you are about to set out to discover your passion, try things that
- interest you,
- your friends are doing,
- you saw on TV/YouTube and found inspiring,
- you have no knowledge of but consider fascinating,
- you would otherwise never imagine doing, etc.
Learn calligraphy, try crocheting or knitting, delete Windows and install Linux, go scuba diving, play Warhammer, write stories, play golf, sing, teach your language to a foreign friend. Be creative and look for opportunities. If something doesn’t satisfy you, move on and look for something else. Try not to forcefully make something seem more interesting than it is. Look for immersive activities that make you lose your sense of time. It’s also useful to record your thoughts on paper so that you can keep track of your progress.
Compare and contrast
As you progress, you might notice certain patterns in what you find interesting (in contrast to things that aren’t as compelling). But don’t rely too much on analytical data when looking for new areas of interest; see if you can develop some sort of map that indicates whither you might want to go next.
For example, if you find yourself dabbling in singing, playing the shamisen, or writing poems or songs, but haven’t really found the one thing that you feel passionate about, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not on the right track… in which case, you should keep a special eye on the musical stuff when treading through the mist. And in like manner, you might want to focus less on themes that you haven’t found very interesting in the past (I’ve personally discovered that I have no passion for mechanical stuff such as fixing cars or tinkering with computer hardware, so I would get this niche off the priority list).
Don’t become committed to something just because you’ve invested a lot of time in it. It was a necessary investment for discovering your passion, so you should not feel obligated to finish what you’ve started if it doesn’t bring any meaningful long-term results. Commitments like that only complicate things, because they give rise to false duties that will only bother your conscience. Non-commitment is a skill that is necessary when pursuing your passion, so keep your doors open and persist until you find what you’ve sought for.