One of my absolute favorite things about the time we are living in, is the ubiquity of the ludicrously simple, most profound career advice I have ever heard: Find Your Passion. Live Your Passion. Do What You Love. Follow Your Bliss. The profundity lies in the simplicity of the message, regardless of the cliché. As a major cliché-resister and hater for most of my life, I never thought that it really could be that simple; I needed more. I needed it to be spelled out for me. I needed to hear it in a million and one different ways before I could really run with it. And to be honest, I had to shed layers upon layers of crazy-intellectual-erudite-ego-conditioning (God bless, but oh God…), before I could even feel any real resonance with this advice (and still, sometimes I think to myself…really?!)
But, what if we find ourselves in the position of knowing that we want to find our passion (and want it BAD because everybody else seems to be finding theirs), but we have no freaking clue where to look? I’m sure that some of my initial frustration with the expression, find your passion, had at least something to do with the fact that I had absolutely no idea what I was passionate about, because I hadn’t even had an experience of consciously knowing (in a really visceral way) what passion felt like. Until my late twenties, I felt like I hung out mostly with a crew of not-so-great-feeling emotions: depression, confusion, guilt, resentment, complacency—a kind of deadness permeated just about everything I gave my attention to. I felt numb. Passion—whatever that was, was for other people; gifted people, who knew from birth exactly what they wanted to do with their lives and pursued it with a kind of burning ferocity that I would never achieve. I had missed the passion train, somewhere around the age of three, and I should just let it go.
I think that one of the reasons why many of us don’t believe the hype of “find your passion” is because many of us haven’t really felt, or tapped into, a feeling of passion. We’ve been hovering around an emotional set-point that is far from passion, and the journey of “finding our passion” feels equivalent to a journey to Mars. It feels way out there, rather than right in here. It wasn’t until I started asking myself the question, what turns me on, that things began to click into place for me. When I selfishly started prioritizing the discovery of my own desires, I realized that I was interested in so much that I had previously numbed out to.
So, if we know you have a burning, yearning desire to find your passion, but have no clue where to start, I’d like to offer a few ideas to help fuel your lust, because really, passion is nothing more than a lust for life.
- Make a Desire List. I think that many of us have absolutely no idea what we are passionate about because we have been putting all of our attention on what we should be doing, rather than what we really want to be doing. And Passion, like Creativity, doesn’t understand the language of Should. It speaks the saucy, lusty, sultry, visceral Dialect of Desire. So, I’d encourage you to start simple: Write out a list of ten-twenty things that turn you on when you think about them. It could be anything as grandiose as a mansion in the hills above Malibu, or a rich, dark, deep hunk of chocolate. Hint: if the career stuff has been eluding you (aka if you draw a complete blank to the question, what do I want to do with my life) then skip it for now. Focus on what turns you on, right here and now.
- Wallow In Your Desires: You can even take this a step further and create an atmosphere for yourself where you feel really good while thinking about what you want. Draw a candlelit bath for yourself, or head to the beach, or the park, or wherever you can carve out a cozy little nest for yourself to think about what you want, from a place of savoring your desire. One thing I have discovered recently is to actually self-pleasure while thinking about what I want; it functions largely in the same way as sexual fantasy. I give myself permission to roam freely through the forest of my own desires, like a hungry jaguar on the prowl, and touching myself in a pleasurable way (whether there’s genital stimulation or not) helps me relax and allow myself to take true delight in the discovery of what I want. The key is to do it for the pleasure that it gives me in the moment, instead of using it to try and get somewhere that I’m not.
- Clear Your Airwaves: Another reason I think that many of us don’t know where to look to find our passions is because we have been giving way too much attention to what other people are doing in our lives, or what they are thinking about what we are doing. Try this exercise to tune out the peanut gallery static that has been jamming up your airwaves. Make a list of the five most important people in your life—the ones who have the most influence on what you are doing now (family, friends, mentors, coaches, teachers), and next to each of them, write: What Would I Do If This Person Were not watching? Once you realize that you have been holding back out of FOOPP (Fear Of Other People’s Opinions), then you might feel inspired to start doing some of the things that you know you would do, if the people around you weren’t watching.
- Rage On, Baby. If you feel sort of indifferent towards most subjects (as I did), you might be struggling to find your passion because you may have numbed out to feeling much of anything. It’s totally normal and understandable why we do this, so first of all, I’d like to say that you’re not alone. It’s not an easy thing to live in the world we are living in and not experience some degree of numbing. We are exposed to layers upon layers of upsetting information, rules that we don’t agree with, and people that we don’t want to deal with, so we learn to stop feeling in order to cope. But until we learn to start feeling again, we can’t really discover what we are truly passionate about. So, I’d like you to play with something to rediscover what you truly care about: tap into your rage. In other words, if your boss makes some totally sexist comment at work, or if you hear something on TV that really makes your blood boil, don’t just stuff it down and deal. When you’re back in the privacy of your own space, feel your rage and let it rip through your system. Scream into a pillow. Smash a plate with a hammer. Play air drums. Dance it out of your system. And realize, that for everything you feel angry about, a desire is launched into the stratosphere. Take the bounce from what you don’t want into what you do want—what you really, really want. There, my dears, lies your passion.
In any case, take it all as research; there isn’t any right or wrong way to find your passions, and your desire is enough to lead you in the right direction. Use your emotions as your guide, and the most important thing to remember: trust that you’ll know it when you see it.
Now…I would love to hear from you!
Have you been trying to find your passions and feel like they have been eluding you?
What’s one thing that you KNOW turns you on today…right here and now?
Go ahead and post in the comments section below – I’d love to hear from you!
With Love and Mischief,