"Follow your passion"—probably the worst piece of advice I've ever received.
I've been told to follow my passion during countless moments of confusion and frustration about my future. The words have followed me through conversations I've had, books I've read, and speeches I've sat through.
And they've stressed me out and made me feel worthless nearly every time.
That's because, until recently, I had no clue what I was passionate about. I never had that kind of heart-racing, life-expanding, lose-track-of-time passion. (If I had, I would have acted on it—believe me.)
And I always felt like not having a passion implied that I wasn't special. Like this elusive passion put those who had it in the group of fascinating people who were likely to live amazing lives.
But then I slowly began to realize that there were plenty of people like me—people going through life trying new things, without reaching that level of enthusiasm and obsession one would call a passion.
In fact, research shows that 80 percent of the population can’t identify a singular passion. Yep, 8 out of 10 people.
So if you're someone who hasn't nailed down a passion, you're far from alone. Phew, right? Instead of looking at your lack of passion as a reason to beat yourself up, view it as an opportunity for self-discovery.
Here's how to get started:
Follow your curiosities
Despite popular belief, passion isn’t something we find—it’s something we cultivate. It takes time to develop, and you can start to do so by paying attention to your inner voice.
Now, you’re probably saying, “OK, that’s all great, but where do I start?” Elizabeth Gilbert hit the nail on the head during her talk on Oprah’s SuperSoul Sessions. She recommended that instead of chasing a passion, you should simply follow your innate curiosities.
This sage advice gave me a major eureka moment, and made me wonder, “How the heck have I never heard about this before?"
Curiosity is nothing more than the desire to explore. It feels kinder, gentler, and more accessible than the concept of passion. All you have to do is find something you’re slightly curious about and investigate that.
Gilbert mentions that, unlike passion, curiosity doesn’t demand anything from you. Instead, it gives clues to the incredible scavenger hunt that is your life. Passion is rare while curiosity is everyday—it’s always within reach. All you need to do is follow those small moments of curiosity, and ultimately, she says, they might just lead to something bigger.
Let these curiosities spark your passion
Once I let passion out the back door and invited curiosity to the table instead, this curiosity led me to my passion. (Correction: passions. Turns out I have lots!)
Curiosity about expressing my thoughts and emotions in writing eventually turned into pieces like this one. Curiosity for a 10-minute yoga video led to a daily practice ritual. Curiosity for a book on happiness became a slight (OK, massive) obsession with personal development.
Once I let go of the pressure to find my one passion, curiosity guided me in the right direction, and all of the dots finally began to connect.
So don’t underestimate the power of curiosity. Let it be your partner in crime in sniffing out the clues to your passions. Let it take you on an exciting journey with no clear destination, and trust that it’s taking you toward the passionate life you desire.
What are you curious about right now? It doesn’t have to be a strong urge, just a slight desire to know more about something. Do yourself a favor and explore that clue today.
Who knows? Maybe it will take you exactly where you want to go.