I was sitting, having tea with my daughter. After graduating from college, she’d spent several weeks looking for a job. She was frustrated. She was irritated. She was lost. Her head fell to her hands as she said: I have no idea what I’m passionate about. Where do I go from here?
She isn’t alone. Talk to most twenty-somethings and you’ll find very confused people.
On the one hand, we’ve lectured them their entire lives about finding their passion. We’ve told them that if they find it, it means they’ll never work a day in their lives. They’ll love what they do, always.
They want it; they do. But on the other hand, they’re pulling their hair out wondering what the hell it is. When does it appear? How do they find it? Does it fall from the sky? Does it hit them over the head?
How do they know?
It’s enough to drive a person crazy. And it can continue to do so all the way to their fiftieth birthday. And the questions start all over again.
Are you 50 and still have no idea what your passion is?
Have you been working for twenty or thirty years just to bring in a paycheck, or because it’s a job that worked well with the kids’ schedule, and now you have no idea what to do next?
Forget passion. It’s overrated.
What Do You Like?
I told my daughter she’s already a lot clearer on what she wants then she thinks. She didn’t believe me.
“Then why don’t you go to medical school?”
She looked at me as if I was crazy.
No way. No how.
Sometimes it’s easier looking at what you DON’T want in order to find what you DO want.
Right now, there are pieces of your life that you love and others … not so much. You know those things you’ve said: If I could just get rid of [this]. Do it. Get rid of it.
When I majored in Finance in college, I never dreamed I would become a writer. At that point in my life I liked real estate and numbers. I took a job in banking and moved to auditing. It worked.
For a while.
Then it became more about what I DIDN’T want.
Thanks to my dad, I knew I didn’t want to work in a stressful job my entire life. I knew I was willing to give up job “security” for the chance at creating a happier work environment. We fell into photography because my husband was good at it. I fell into marketing because it was a natural extension of my business degree. And over time, I found I had a real knack for writing. And I loved it!
What Interests Me Today?
The great thing about living right now is mentors are everywhere.
They don’t need to be in your town or neighborhood. They can be halfway around the world. But they’re there, doing their thing. And you can find them if you do a little searching.
If you’re not sure what you want to do next, let Google become your friend.
Spend a few minutes each day surfing and discovering what’s out there.
Before you begin, create a word or excel file to list out your research. Label it any way you choose.
Then start searching.
Interested in going vegetarian? Google everything around it: vegetarian chefs, vegetarian cookbooks, vegetarian diet, vegetarian business, vegetarian expos, vegetarian lifestyle.
Very quickly, you’ll find things that resonate with you. Things that “speak” to you. And you’ll discover other things you want to research and discover.
As you gather, create lists of things you could do with your research.
- 10 ways I could be a vegetarian every day
- 10 ways I could build a vegetarian business
- 10 ways I could connect with other vegetarians
- 10 products that aren’t vegetarian but could be
Do this for enough days and you’ll start to see patterns and trends. Do this for enough days and your excitement will start to blossom. You’ll find ways to change your life, even just a little bit. You’ll find new things to do and new directions to explore.
It Doesn’t Have To Be Everything Today
When I wrote my first blog post over a decade ago, I had no idea the significance it would hold in my life. Blogging technology was new, it was cool, it sounded interesting, so I created a post.
I stuck with it because I loved it. I loved reaching out to people. I loved reading comments. I loved sharing advice.
It morphed. It grew. It changed.
Today, all of my income is derived in some fashion through my blogs. I use it as promotional material. I use it to connect with people. I use it as a way to craft my ideas and thoughts.
But even today, every word I write, I know it won’t mean the same tomorrow. I do it anyway.
Too often, we try and figure out what we want – our passion – and we want to see exactly how it fits in our lives today.
We never stand still. Time always marches on, as they say. And that changes us.
The world moves and changes too. Are you different than you were before significant events: 9/11, a hurricane, or a newly elected president? Of course.
We can’t control these things. We can only control our little spot in the world.
So I take everything I’ve accumulated along the way and use it for what I choose to do today.
- I throw away manuscripts if I no longer enjoy them.
- I plan new projects if I’m motivated in a different way.
- I look for other interests that can help me build who I am.
- I write just for me, every day.
If you’re looking for “passion in midlife”, I’m afraid you’ll never find it. Because passion in midlife is simply too large.
Instead, look for passion today. What do you want to do right now?
- I want to write.
- I want to walk by the river.
- I want to enjoy a cup of tea.
- I want to share a meal and a good bottle of wine.
- I want to share my wisdom and knowledge.
And if I’m doing a little of that each day, I consider it a success.
Sure, I might decide to change them. Of course, they’ll morph along the way.
We’re already talking about trading in our river for an ocean.
But notice my list above; very little is about external things. It’s not about a specific job, or a location, or a physical item. They are all about feelings, what I do, who I choose to be.
It’s about what fills me with happiness. It’s about what I want to give to the world.
My house may change. My friends may change. My location may change. But what brings me passion is internal. It’s who I am as a person. It’s what fills me with joy, no matter what.
And that – THAT – comes with midlife.
Passion changes. That will always be.
But if you have a deep desire to do something – anything – then let that passion out.