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How to Identify Your Passions

identify your passions

Passion is the fuel that can power you toward the realization of your dreams. To live a truly satisfying and purposeful life you need to know what your passions are so you can fill your day with them. Have you found your passions in life or are you still searching? Many people struggle to connect with their deepest core passions.

It has become increasingly common for people to feel  like they can’t really identify their passions or that they don’t know how to incorporate their passions into their daily life. It is also possible that you might already be living a life of passion without even recognizing it.

Could that be true for you?

If you want to discover your passions, the following questions will get you started. Why not write each question on its own sheet of paper so you have plenty of room for brainstorming.

Many people wonder, “How do I know what my passions are?” Use the seven questions below to put your passion to the test.

1)  Does it make you feel good about yourself? There are certain activities that just make us feel good about ourselves – there’s a reason for that. Something about that activity resonates with one of our core passions. Exploring the precise feelings attached to these pursuits can help us identify those core passions. Once we discover what those passions are we can explore other activities that produce the same sense of satisfaction.

2)  Would you do it for free? In a world that revolves around the almighty dollar it can be easy to ignore pursuits that don’t produce a monetary return. In an effort to identify our core passions we need to remove “earning potential” from the formula. There are many meaningful things in life that transcend financial consideration. We have all heard the saying “the best things in life are free.” More often than not, our passions live in the free zone. In fact, they are more likely to be attached to giving rather than receiving.

3)  Do you lose all track of time when you do it? Have you ever said: “When I’m doing that I lose all track of time”? That feeling is usually a pretty strong indicator that you are passionate about whatever it was you were doing. We tend to be very time conscious when we would rather be doing something else. If you keep looking at your watch you are probably anxious to move on to some other activity. But when you completely forget about time it’s often because you are passionately engrossed in your current endeavor.

4)  Do you talk about it to anyone who will listen? “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). Isn’t that true? Don’t we all tend to talk about the things we are passionate about (complainers excluded)? Sometimes we are not aware of how often we bring up certain subjects, but the people we talk to are. Why not ask those closest to you if there is a particular subject that you bring up a lot. You may be very surprised at what you discover.

5)  Are you delighted to teach it to others? Do friends and family come to you when they want to learn some specific thing, something that you are good at? When that happens, do you take pleasure in sharing your knowledge with them? If so, then you probably have a genuine passion in that topic. Why not explore this a little further and see how it makes you feel?

6)  Would you like to spend more of your time doing it? When you have a free day coming up that doesn’t involve catching up on necessary things, what do you like to do with that time? Even if your life is really busy and you need to do other things, what do you wish you could be doing? If you look forward to those rare opportunities then that activity is obviously anchored in some degree of passion.

7) Does it make you want to get out of bed in the morning? Is there something that you like to do so much that you can’t wait to get out of bed on the days you’ve set aside for that activity? Do you think about it the night before with eager anticipation? Do you wake up in the middle of the night and check to see what time it is because you are excited? If so, then this is definitely something that you are passionate about.

Your passions are waiting!

Answering these seven questions will allow you to correctly identify what really excites you in life. If you find something that meets all seven of these criteria, that is definitely something you are extremely passionate about on a core level. If even one of these points applies then you should look a little deeper at the degree of passion involved.

We all have passions. Sometimes we just need to clear our minds, ask some simple questions and then give ourselves a little creative space.  Why not start identifying your personal passions right now?  All you need to do is apply these seven questions and watch as the discovery process unfolds.

Do you feel aware of your core passions?
Did going through these 7 points lead to any conclusions?
The lines are open!

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You deserve to wake up excited and to work on things that actually mean something to you. What you really deserve is to Live off Your Passion.

26 Comments

  1. Steven Aitchison July 20, 2010 Reply

    Great post Jonathan. I actually read and answered an emphatic yes to every question, which fired me up even more as I know I am doing the right thing in life.

    • Wow Steve, that is so excellent and also very rare. There is so much energy involved in knowing our passions and going after them. I know we are on the same page here and that’s exciting also. Thank you my friend.

  2. Marko July 20, 2010 Reply

    Fortunately I am aware of my current passions. But this is a great set of information for those who are not sure.

    There is a claim: “If you want to know your passion, try to experiment with different things and find the best one.”

    This post goes deeper into the claim. Power of questions is huge. Questions manage our lives. Here you are using this power for the interesting self-analysis. As a result we get answers about the state of our beliefs. The result is a clearer focus on the things that we love and we are passionate to. So… I like this post. :)

    • Questions manage our lives. Wow Marko, there is so much wrapped up in those four little words. Yes they do and the possible application of this principle is staggering.

  3. Nea July 20, 2010 Reply

    When we discover and live through our passions, that’s the real start of life. You’ve done a great job of asking the questions that help us to know when we are (or are not) in touch with our passions. Great article Jonathan.

    • Hi Nea, this was a phrase: “When we discover and live through our passions, that’s the real start of life.” I think renewing our passions can give us a fresh start at any point in life.

  4. Sandra Lee July 20, 2010 Reply

    Hello Jonathan, I spent a good part of my life working hard in a career that was not the best match for me without ever realizing it. It wasn’t until I found my passion that I saw what a world of difference it makes. So I can happily say yes to all the 7 questions you listed. I’m am delighted your are helping others identify their passions.

    • That’s excellent Sandra! I think the majority of people are in the same situation you once were. I always hope that maybe they will read or hear something that moves them toward that same realization so they too can experience that world of difference.

  5. John Duffield July 23, 2010 Reply

    Good morning Jonathan. With your permission, I’d like to challenge your post in a positive way. To kick it off, I’d like to say I believe everything in your article is absolutely true. Anyone who already “knows their passion” will agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve said. Witness Steve Aitchison. Already following his Bliss, it strikes a deep chord and rings with truth. But will those truths help people find their reason for being? I’ll begin with my own experience. For many, many, years I couldn’t find mine. I “looked within”, combed my childhood years for clues, and consulted books. I learned what passion looks and feels like (from informative lists like yours). And? Didn’t help. But I’m not alone. Millions of folks turn to sincere and enlightened people like yourself for help finding their passion…..but aren’t helped. I wonder what your readers would say about this? Do you think you could launch a “test out the passion test” on your site. The idea would be to get many readers to use your list. First they’d invest the time to examine themselves for signs of passion. Then they’d “test the test” by answering three questions honestly. Here they are….one two and three. Did my efforts reveal something I now feel absolutely driven to pursue, because my heart and soul can’t do without it? Do I now know what I want to do with my life? Do thoughts of going that way excite and inspire me because it feels like the real me is being released? Okay, so here’s the point of my “challenge”. After decades of living a life without passion, I stumbled into the reason even the most wise guru rarely helps anyone find theirs. I’m not trying to hijack your site by the way……just sharing what I’ve learned. Legions of people unable to find their passion….despite heroic efforts of leaders like yourself….. is a problem worth solving in my mind. Ciao Jonathan. John Duffield

    • Wow John, your comment is (as usual) thought provoking, intriguing, and insightful. And YES, I think your suggested experiment would be both telling and worthwhile.

      But John, you really left us hanging here. So, for years you couldn’t find your passion. Obviously that changed at some point. Somehow you located it and now your very being screams passion.

      So help us out here Bro. Tell us the rest of the story PLEASE.

      • John Duffield July 27, 2010 Reply

        Imagine each of us is born into this world carrying a unique Treasure. Worth billions of times its weight in diamonds, this gift beyond wealth is meant to be given away. In exchange for these riches, every man and woman receives a heavenly life filled with happiness, love, and success. But now imagine our world has been infected with a dire sickness. An illness preventing men and women from seeing the value of these Treasures. Young boys and girls are devastated to discover their Treasure is considered worthless by parents, teachers and the powers-that-be. No sooner do they offer a shard of their unique wealth to the world, but they’re put down for it. Frightened to exchange their gifts for happiness, young and old alike live shadows of the life they were meant to live. Sadly, this does not have to be, because the cure for this disease infecting our world is simple enough for everyone to take.

  6. Farnoosh July 25, 2010 Reply

    Jonathan, all of these reasons and more fit not just one but several of my passions – My problem is that I have too many and life is too short and too busy to pursue them all. I wish I had started sooner but I was so busy working hard and studying hard all those years when I thought my pursuit was somewhere else and all of those efforts have brought me a lot of financial comfort and now, I am pursuing way too many passions – and the one thing I want to know is how to find balance and understand that I cannot do all of them: yoga, photography, blogging, reading classics, traveling, tango, languages and well, I do want to take art classes still and play a musical instrument too :)!! It’s tough being me!!!
    Thanks for the great writing as always! And hey, you never told us YOUR own passions besides self-development?

    • Hello Farnoosh, I suffer from the same affliction, too many passions (could be much worse, right). I honestly feel that you can pursue them all, just not all at the same time. I like to wade into the deep end of any passionate endeavor. Obviously, that means time and focus, and there is only so much of that to go around.

      So I pursue a few “full on” until I begin to feel satisfied with my experience. Then I ease off a bit and make room for new ones. I remember when I was really into hang gliding, I was obsessed. And yes, my life got out of balance for a while. But I got to experience things that most people can’t even imagine. That’s how it goes with passionate people sometimes.

      Even though I have actively pursued many passions in my life, I still have a big list. I may never get to some of them and that’s okay too. The important thing is, my life is full of passion which keeps me fully engaged in the journey.

      Right now I am passionately working on several projects related to personal development, blogging, and writing. I have also challenged myself to get in the best shape of my life before I turn sixty. I am perpetually remodeling our house, doing all the work myself because I like it. And on and on it goes. See, I really do understand your boundless passion. My advice, just enjoy it. One thing is for sure, you’ll never suffer from boredom or apathy.

  7. John Duffield July 26, 2010 Reply

    Good morning Jonathan and readers. Thank you Jonathan for your supportive comment on my blog. I’d like to say a little about Farnoosh’s comment if I may. Once again, I hope I don’t come off as contrarian, anti social, or an aging juvenile delinquent (the last of which may actually be true….now that I think of it). My aim is to help people get past an invisible barrier that’s keeping them from truly living. Here we go. I believe Farnoosh is describing “interests”, not “passion”. Even so….I identify with the good lady 100%. In my own misspent youth, I was interested in everything but had no idea what to do with my life. I had no real mission to put heart and soul into. Okay, so how do you tell “interests” from a real “passion”.This very post of yours points out some of the character of passion. But when all is said and done, passion is who you are. You can’t mistake your true passion for anything but your true passion, any more than you can mistake your image in a mirror for someone else. You KNOW with absolute certainty that this is the Force Within that will drive you to grow yourself to maturity as a human being. Interests are, well, “interesting” ……but they do NOT feel like a locomotive at your back, urging you forward to your destiny. And here’s something to think about. For anyone with many, many, MANY interests…..who still cannot say with confidence they “know why they’re here”…..I have good news. You passion is there alright. You just haven’t learned now to release it into your life. Learning this trick isn’t rocket science either. It can’t be, because everyone is entitled to live life with passion, whatever their strengths or weaknesses. (If learning to release passion required brains, yours truly would be out of luck for example!). Once again though…..don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to be mean-hearted here. Just truthful. Ciao Jonathan and Farnoosh. (Beautiful name by the way). John Duffield

  8. Aditya February 17, 2013 Reply

    I think if we do what we truly love, then everything else falls in place. You just gotta have the faith in what you believe.

  9. Beryl draper March 2, 2013 Reply

    This is for the people like me who cant seem to find their passion: Find your courage to dare to live the most exciting life you can imagine. Operate from a place of reverence, kindness and love. Think, visualise, plan, act and grow. Do more for this world than what it does for you! The secret of discipline, is motivation,the secret of motivation is action! The secret of action is right thinking, right attitude. You make these sacred contracts with your self! Stop being your own worst enemy, its time to grow up and walk in the light. Where the needs of the world, and your talents cross you will find your calling.

  10. HT March 5, 2013 Reply

    I would also ask “What keeps me awake and busy at night past my bedtime which I don’t mind?”

    Thanks Jonathan. I think this post will help many find their sweetspot and get into the flow, and hopefully to come alive.

    May I also add Howard Thurman’s quote (my fav): “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

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