I don’t know how many times I went on Quora and saw a post by someone asking: “How do I find my true passion?” or “I’m 20 something and haven’t got a passion, what should I do?”.
Well, I’ve got an answer to those: you don’t look for passions, it’s passions that look for you. (Click to tweet)
Looking for your passion is a waste of time
First of all, nobody has one true and only passion, so looking for it is at best a waste of time.
Each one of us has its skills and interests, so it’s pretty difficult to pick only one and it might be detrimental, too.
For example, I’m passionate about entrepreneurship, web development, cooking, traveling, investing, and a couple of other things. Why should I just pick one and go with it? I’d reduce my chances of achieving success.
Your best guess would be to pick a couple of things you like and combine them: you like web development and have experience trading the markets? build a finance platform with some kind of twist. Like home decoration and writing? Start a home decoration blog and then write an ebook on how to renovate one’s home. Like crafting and entrepreneurship? Open an Etsy shop and sell your crafts.
By doing this you’ll be creating your edge, because combining different skills and interests will put you above the rest. While there might be many people interested in home decoration and others good at writing, there are a lot less people interested in home decoration AND good at writing.
Start something and you’ll find out if it’s your passion
Looking for your true passion is a good excuse for procrastination.
“Oh, you know, I’m trying to find my passion, so I’m not doing stuff at the moment.” Not good!
What you should do instead, as I said above, is to start something by combining a few of your interests and skills. After a while, you’ll know if you’re passionate about it or not.
You have to understand that your choice of interest is not for life. You might think you like writing because in school you were good at it, but when you try to do it day in day out so you can build a career out of it, you discover it’s not a passion of yours.
No problem, go back and rewind. You’ll still have learned something more about yourself.
Another alternative to wasting time looking for your passion is to pick an interest and study the ass out of it. Which by chance is another great way to build your edge.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: The Story of Success, it’s been said that to achieve true mastery, you need to put in 10,000 hours. However, that would put you in the top 1%.
Let’s say you haven’t got 10,000 hours, you could still put in 1,000 and be above most other people who didn’t, let’s say in the top 20%.
Another interesting read about this is Mastery by Robert Greene
Your passion may be just that and not a work
A few years ago, I decided to make one of my passions my work. I’ve always been passionate about wine and so together with a partner, decided to start shooting documentaries about natural winemakers and distribute their wines in Italy and Europe.
While it was one of the best times of my life and I had lots of fun doing it, the business was not a success.
In the end, I came to the conclusion that while it was all good and nice, it wasn’t a good business idea. Of course, I had lots of fun, but we could merely keep afloat and ended up splitting because I understood there was no way of turning a profit unless we compromised on our principles, which mostly came out of our passions.
So beware, because your perceived passion could often be the reason your business is not succeeding. You think you know it all and you don’t want to taint your passion with some kind of business logic, so you end up failing.
If you are stuck, listen to Warren Buffett
All of this said, I understand it’s not easy to pick a horse to put your bet on. So, if you are stuck, you might want to do what Warren Buffett would do.
The story goes that Mike Flint, then Buffett’s personal airplane pilot, was stuck in his career, so Warren Buffett told him to follow these three steps:
- Write down the 25 goals you would like to achieve in your life
- Then pick the top 5 goals out of the list
- Now, you have two lists: A, your top 5 goals, B the other 20 goals
He then went on to tell him that he should spend all of his energy trying to achieve what was on list A, while list B was his avoid-at-all-costs list.
While you’re doing your homework, you might read this blog post on Asian Efficiency about discovering your purpose.
Just do it
In any case, the biggest trap to avoid is losing time pondering and brooding about what to do. Instead, spend that time doing something, anything that will put you ahead of the competition. You’ll find out that your passion will find you somehow and you’ll end up happy and doing something you love.
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In my career, I started more than 10 businesses, some where great, others not so much and a couple of them failed hard. At 23 I was nominated by BusinessWeek as one of Europe's Best Young Entrepreneurs. It was and still is a great ride and I want to share everything that I learned with you.
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