When you were a little kid without a care in the world, you dreamt big about the world. It seemed like a magical place where fantasies would come true and problems didn’t really exist. And boy did your pea-sized brain fire on all cylinders and imagine the endless possibilities. You probably knew exactly what you wanted to do with your life back then because you took some serious interest in random things that just sounded fun. Even as a little kid, you demonstrated passion. But then you grew up and quickly got lost in the shuffle of trying to focus your efforts towards things that seemed fun and cool because the need (or want) for money took over. And so here you are, devoid of a zest for life; you effectively have no passion in life for anything — a career, hobbies, or anything that actually sounds fun.
But rest assured, it’s totally possible to not have the definition of passion for anything right now (especially a career) and still kick ass from this day forward.
Define What Passion Means For You Specifically, On Your Terms
The word passion gets a bad rap.
You’re probably thinking it’s something that requires a burning fire within you, that come hell or high water, you’ll still go after it and nothing can stop you. And since this sounds like a foreign language to you, you’ve convinced yourself you’re fucked because you scramble to get excited about anything. It’s uncomfortable, since everyone wants to get excited about something. But nothing’s really wrong with you; the problem is you grew up and still don’t know what to do with your life. Welcome to the club. Ultimately, it’s something a lot (a lot) of people struggle with.
The reality is that a vast majority have no clue what the hell they want to do in life, they just pretend they do. Very few people actually know the answer. And if you do, you’re one lucky son of a bitch.
If you’re one of those lucky sons of bitches, you probably get this intense fire for something, and by all means it’s the definition of a passion. Some people can spot it immediately and just know.
Keywords: some people.
Not everyone’s brain functions like this. It’s totally possible to be passionate about a few things without ever really lighting a “fire”, and instead acting like it’s a slow steady burn. Are you one of those people? Don’t get upset with yourself if you haven’t found the one thing that lights you up so intensely you lose touch with reality.
Maybe it’s still to be found, and you’d react that way if you found it. But if you’re a little older at this point and you’ve never reacted in that way to something, chances are that’s just not who you are. And hey, that’s actually perfectly OK. If you can come to terms with the notion you may not react in that way to a passion, you’re doing yourself a big favor.
Some people are just wired to ride the highest of highs in life and get intimately involved in the lows. Others tend to waver way less, not getting as excited about the highs but not getting overwhelmed about the lows. If you’re the latter, it’s probably why you haven’t found yourself getting over-the-top excited about anything that seems really interesting.
So, it’s time to define what passion means for you. If you have no passion in life for anything right now, you might need to step back and look at things a bit differently.
Have Some Patience If You Don’t Know Your Life Yet
Pressure gets the best of you. When you aren’t somehow doing something you think is the answer to your desire to A) get paid a decent amount, and B) somewhat enjoy your life both inside and outside work, it’s easy to freak out. Everywhere you turn, it seems like someone is either telling you life isn’t guaranteed tomorrow so you need to pursue what you really want, or they’re showing you how much they love what they do through your favorite social media app.
You think you have to find one thing, that thing… the it thing, in order to check off the bucket list item of “successful professional career”. Like if you can master that, you’ve succeeded in life. And frankly, it’s not a bad indicator; when you’ve found something you’re passionate about and turn it into a career or a fulfilling side hobby, it’s awesome.
You may or may not know that the average person switches entire careers (not jobs) somewhere between three and seven times in their lifetime. Whether this holds any merit or not, it still shows that we don’t necessarily settle in on the first thing that we do, whether it’s a big jump or not. Going from finance consultant to management consultant would qualify as a smaller career switch for some people. On the other hand, going from something like finance to teaching satisfies as a complete career switch. Both still take some serious cajones to follow through on and are never easy.
Either way, there’s a mad dash and subsequent frustration when you just can’t seem to figure out what the hell you want to do in your life professionally or personally. So you end up not making any moves, which opens the door for regret and lets the frustration build.
Time out. Take a breather. Show yourself a little grace here, for the love of god.
Determine Whether It’s A Potential Passion Or It’s Time To Move On
The most important question you need to ask yourself up front, whenever you’re staring in the face of something you think you enjoy (be it a career or a hobby) but aren’t that excited about it, is the following:
If I don’t really get excited for what I’m doing right now but got much better at it, would I still not get excited by it at all? And would I want to do something else?
There’s a certain truth that talent is overrated and by giving something the hard work it might need (or even deserve), you can begin to excel and find yourself enjoying it on another level, whether it’s a career or a hobby. But there’s also a good chance that it won’t help, and will temporarily mask the core problem: you hate what you do and it’s not a question about passion.
The reality is when you suck at something, you suck at it and feel like a failure. So naturally if you’re doing something you suck at, it’s not exactly fun and your human nature lends you to want to bail out. The math checks out. By getting better at something, you start getting recognition, and more importantly, start feeling good.
The flip side is knowing that no matter what, you won’t enjoy it and you want to change. Figure out which side you swing on, and make a decision whether it’s something worthy to keep pursuing or it’s time to cut your losses and move on.
You Can Have Multiple Passions Going At Once
There isn’t a rule that passion is a one-shot-and-it’s-done thing.
You can, contrary to popular belief, have multiple passions at once. If you think you have no passion in life for anything including a career, maybe you’re wrongfully pegging your existence on finding the “one thing” that you can define as your ultimate passion. As if you miraculously expect one thing to totally trump all the others. But as mentioned earlier, you might not be that type of person; you could just find a few things more exciting without going head over heels for any one of them.
These are all still considered passions.
It’s totally possible to have a few things you’re passionate about, all burning equally without one engulfing the others.
Your Job Doesn’t Have To Be Your Passion
What does this mean for you, the average schmuck with an average job that just feels… average? You know, the kind of job that’s tolerable but doesn’t really float your boat.
It means that you can approach it in one of two ways. One is switching into a career you know will really rock your world. The second is not being so concerned with finding “the one” thing you’re destined to do career wise, and instead focus on kicking ass at something you enjoy on some level. The tiniest shred of enjoyment will give you a reason to get up in the morning and pursue life with a bit more “zest”. All it takes is just a small sliver of hope, so to speak. Hope that life isn’t destined to be a monotonous, depressing, crappy existence.
Now, if you absolutely hate your career, you should definitely look into switching to something that is a bit more in line with being palatable. It doesn’t even have to be something completely different, just something that doesn’t make you depressed when Sunday rolls around because you inherently know Monday is around the corner.
Once you find some success doing something you somewhat enjoy, inside or outside of work, you’ll find things will start looking up.