Angela Duckworth, in Grit, The Power of of Passion and Perseverance, suggests that if you want to follow your passion but don’t know what it is yet, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I like to think about?
- Where does my mind wander?
- What do I really care about?
- What matters most to me?
- How do I enjoy spending my time?
- What do I find absolutely unbearable?
Number 6, finding out what you don’t like, is essential to knowing yourself. It’s also easier to figure out, as this learning site illustrates.
Next, experiment with your ideas and interests. As a child I loved many things. I was an avid dancer, always in the front line of recitals. My university dance professor told me I had the talent to dance professionally. I soon realized that the lifestyle of a dancer would not go well with raising a family, so I lost interest.
I adored reading, but would anyone pay me to do that? And if they would, there’d be crazy competition for that job. Besides, I wanted to read only what I chose, so a career as an editor or agent, people who read for a living, didn’t seem quite that attractive.
No matter what I did in life, I always came back to my love of writing novels. I process my life in metaphors of fantasy and drama, plots, characters, and what-ifs.
Time travel comes in handy in figuring out your passion. I often play this game with myself. I pretend I’m holding up a magic window to my teenage self and I imagine that she can look through it and see my life now. What would she think?
Would my teenage self tell me to get moving a little quicker and put my fiction out there now? Would she be amazed that she would move through her shyness and become a public speaker? Would she be disappointed that I was no longer married, or impressed that I’d done so much independently?
Then I direct that time traveling window into my future and look at my future self. What do I want to see 10 years from now?
- Take a few deep, slow breaths and close your eyes (after reading the rest of these instructions).
- Imagine that you are traveling along the path that is your life. What does it look like? How are you traveling? Are you walking through a tangled forest? Jogging along a vast empty beach? Canoeing down a rushing river? Is it arduous? Is it a casual stroll? Are you crawling through muck and mud?
- You come to a clearing and you see yourself 10 years from now. How do you look? Are you happy? Sad? Who are you with? What are you doing?
- Walk up to that future self. Ask him how he got there. If he’s in a good place, ask him for advice. If he’s in a bad place, ask him what you need to do to change that future. Listen, listen, listen to what he says.
You can do this for 10 years from now, 5 years, and 1 year. Make a list of where you really want to be in that time.
Next, I’ll share with you my strategies for developing a plan of action to get to where you want to go.