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A Surprising Question to Help Find Your Passions

What do you hate?



Self Improvement is so popular these days, which is great! I’m glad that the stories in a lot of current Disney films often focus on the main character finding out who they are, what they want, and practicing self-acceptance. The only problem is, sometimes they make it look too easy. There’s a lot of advice out there saying “Find your passion!” as if it’s just lying around on the floor somewhere, and upon discovering it your life will light up and you’ll suddenly never want for anything in life ever again. If only it were that easy! I’m not going to lie to you, discovering your passions and what you want to do with your life isn’t a short process, it takes time, experimentation, and patience, even if you’re starting with some clues. So before I get into what you should do if you don’t have a clue, I have 3 things for you to ponder over:


Passion is developed, not discovered.

A secret about passion is that it’s not just lying dormant under the surface. Passion develops over time spent with an activity. I did not have a passion for writing before I started blogging, I just found it enjoyable to express and articulate my thoughts. As I carried on I found that I enjoyed the craft of writing more and more and a passion started to ignite!

You will have many passions over your lifetime

If you’ve read some of my other blogs, you’ll know that when I was younger I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist; but I fell out of love with that dream (the details of why are here). From that, I learned that it’s silly to assume that one passion, one major interest, is going to see you through your entire time here on earth! I look back on my student years and I can’t believe that I thought I’d be happy with doing that ONE THING my whole life. Don’t think that you’re looking for the one thing that is going to see you through the rest of your life. All you’re looking for is what you can develop a passion for now.


Something you expect to be a passion may well not be

I started archery not long ago. It was something I’d always wanted to try so I found a club and started going every week to shoot. It didn’t grab me though, there was no spark. As much as I enjoyed it, unlike writing, it didn’t ignite a passion in me, and I only know that by trying it out. I really did used to envision myself possibly one day at the olympics, or as some Katniss Everdeen in the wilderness able to catch and book my own meals in full zombie apocalypse fashion; but it wasn't meant to be.

Sometimes we try something and, despite our expectations, it just isn't for us. But knowing what you don't like goes a long way to figuring out what you do.


What to Do If You Don’t Know Where to Start


Now that we’ve looked at some of the realities around finding your passions, let's look at what to do if you really don’t know where to start. This is the best trick I’ve found to do if you really don’t have a clue is to work backward:

Start with what you DON’T want and look the other way to find its opposite.

What will you NEVER be ok with doing? Let’s sort them into 3 simple categories to make it easier:

  • Tasks/Actions.

  • People.

  • General Interests.

There will probably be some crossover but this is just to make it a little more manageable. If you’re struggling to think of what you hate, take some time to think about the times when you weren’t happy and why that was.

Were there tasks you hated?

What do you always put off till the last minute? Bosses that you couldn’t get along with?

What kind of people don’t you like being around? Books/shows/films/games/sports that you really hated?

What about them did you hate?

When you have thought about the above questions, you might start to have a list that looks a little like this:

Tasks/Actions:

  • I always put off trade reports until the last minute because I hate them.

  • I can’t stand the thought of having to clean toilets!

  • I really don’t want to be sat down all day.

  • I dread having to do such a long commute.

People:

  • I don’t want to be around people that won’t embrace my enthusiasm.

  • I hate people who just talk about what needs to be done without any action.

General Interests:

  • I really don’t like fantasy/science fiction.

  • I’m just not interested in team sports.

  • I don’t want to be sedentary.

Once you have a list like this you can start looking at the things that you DO like and enjoy, so let's look at the opposite of your list. The Tasks/Actions section of this hypothetical person may look like this when turned around: Tasks/Actions:

  • I like to be involved hands-on with what I’m doing, not stuck with the admin.

  • I like being able to leave the cleaning to someone else.

  • I want to have a job where I’m up and moving about a lot

  • I want to work somewhere closer to home.

With that list, this person can start to think about what kind of job would involve/exclude the sort of tasks they do/don’t want to do, and that gives them direction! If we look at this person's General Interests section, we can see that they clearly like being active, but don’t like team sports. Knowing that, they can explore some physical activities that don’t involve playing in teams. If I was working with you, and this was your list, I’d get you to write down every physical activity you can think of and then go through it and see what you think of each activity. You’ll likely find more things that you don’t like, allowing you to further narrow your search. You can put everything together and summarise like: “Right, well I want a new job where I can be active and on my feet, have colleagues with a ‘get sh*t done!’ mentality, with no cleaning and is closer to where I live.” What a great starting point! There are so many places you can go with having a list in front of you of all the things you don’t like, you just need to ask yourself why you don't like them and think about 1. what’s left without those things? And 2. what are the opposites of those things? And voila! Now you have some answers for the “Where do I even know where to start?” questions.

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