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By Live in the Grey
December 30, 2014

This article originally appeared on Live in the Grey.

We’ve all heard it before: “Do what you love.” “Follow your passion.” “Find a job that you would do for free.”

Yet “passion” is one of those concepts that is difficult to explain, hard to find and impossible to measure. It’s something that’s unique to each of us, with no one scale to determine it or map to guide us to it

In a world that is evolving so quickly, a good education no longer guarantees work and a job no longer provides stability. We may be losing the structure and simplicity of the past, but we are exchanging it for the freedom to create our own future.

As exciting as this is, we’re not necessarily ready for that responsibility. As much as we embrace freedom, we also seek the comfort of guidance. In order to discover our passion and unlock that freedom, we need some direction and a better understanding of what we are looking for.

What is Passion?

Your calling in life may be something you are born knowing, but it may also be something you discover over time. We all know the person who knew back in high school they would be a doctor, teacher or a dentist. They were fortunate enough to discover their calling at a young age and carry it with them going forward. For most of us, that understanding is discovered throughout our life.

Passion is something that will stem from your beliefs, be enhanced by your skills and sustained by the value that you are able to provide.

What you are passionate about will depend largely on the particular time it is in your life. Yes, this means we can breathe easy knowing that there is more than one dream job for us out there!

If you have not found your calling yet, don’t worry. When you do recognize it, it will come at the right time. Never wish you had uncovered it sooner, as the passion you discover today is not what you would have desired a decade ago. The knowledge you have acquired over this time is what will enable you to recognize the right opportunity when it comes your way.

Finally, when searching for your passion, understand that it is not the same as a job title or a company. There is a field of work out there connected to a certain mission that will resonate with your beliefs and align with your unique set of skills.

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What are Your Beliefs?

Everything that we experience in life from a young age is what determines our belief system. These beliefs shape how we think, how we approach situations and how we see things in life. For instance, if you grew up with frugal parents who worked to make ends meet, you will have a different approach to your finances and career than someone who had a wealthy upbringing. Your beliefs are created from your past and form your opinions of the world. It is important to pursue something that supports these beliefs but also aligns with your current views.

That said, how exactly can you translate your beliefs into the actual thing you want to do professionally?

Here are 6 Steps to Discover Your Passion:

1. Understand Why You Are Unhappy in the First Place

It is critical to understand what you don’t like about your current job, so you can make the appropriate change in your next role.

There are many factors to consider, such as: your position, your manager, salary, professional development opportunities, schedule, colleagues, the industry, product offering, location, growth potential, company size, the overall direction the company is headed and many more. Once you have pinpointed the source(s) of pain, think through if they have been issues in past jobs.

If any of these are significantly off, they can completely disrupt the experience you have with that job. You may be in the right position, but a bad boss can ruin your perception of it all.

2. Make Something out of the Time in Your Current Job

Learn, learn, learn! Take advantage of this time to advance your skills, try new things and attack any fears you have. If you are in sales, try new pitches; if you are in marketing, present new ideas; if you are a developer, take on a completely different project. You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain as you prepare for your next role.

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3. Research

What you learn from the above analysis will determine which direction you want to go in next. Discovering your passion will require some trial and error, but it all starts with high level research. If you are planning on changing industries for example, begin to explore different sectors. If something peaks your interest, see if it resonates with your beliefs and who you are. If you love your company but don’t like your current responsibilities, envision how you would fit into the different roles and departments available.

4. Submerse Yourself

When you find a path you want to pursue, kick the research into overdrive. Attend networking events, watch online seminars, connect with contacts who are in that field, job shadow, find ways to volunteer your time for free, ask lots of questions and jump on any opportunity that will get you some exposure. You will never know if this is your passion unless you take risks and dive right in. Take advantage of the free time you have outside of your day job to fully apply yourself.

5. Master a Skill:

Most people are better able to hone in on their passion after they’ve mastered a skill in a particular industry; when you have a high level of competence, it raises your confidence, increases satisfaction and enables you to forge your own path. Mastering a certain skill may be spark you need to get going.

6. Provide Value:

Everyone on this planet has a desire to feel like they matter and have some level of importance. You get this when you provide value to others. When you find a mission that resonates with your beliefs and is supported by your skills, your ability to produce results will only deepen your interest in the field. That will ignite a hunger within you to want to advance your business and share this new found passion with others… who might just turn in to your customers.

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