There are many misconceptions about finding your passion, and the possibility of turning this into your work. These are the four most significant ones that I encounter in practice.
1. “If I really have a passion, shouldn’t I already know it?”
You certainly would think so! However, only recently, I witnessed in a beautiful way that we really do have a blind spot when it comes to our own passion. In the bus, I got talking to a man and a woman. After I explained what I do for a living, the woman told me, while handing out home-baked muffins, that she was unable to find her true passion – to her greatest frustration. She has been pondering the question for many years, without satisfying results. The man, a pilot, knew the answer to this question all too well. Flying is what he loved most, and travelling. The eyes of the woman lit up: she did recently travel to Thailand. And India. Did we know how fantastic the food is, over there?! She accounted her experiences in great detail. “I always determine what countries to travel to based on the food that they have!” she said, as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I just smiled. When I mentioned shortly after that I was on my way to Amsterdam, the woman leapt up from her chair, rapidly named three new restaurants with ab-so-lute-ly de-vine food, and effortlessly listed the specific things that she ate there…
This was the same woman who complained not even an hour ago that she did not have a passion. Ever since, she constantly managed to steer the conversation back to food. When I told her, she looked at me, completely dumb-founded. Food, her passion? She had not considered this for a single moment…
Hint: We apparently take some things for granted to the extent that we do not consider them to be special anymore. Time for a fresh perspective! Ask some others who know you well what they consider to be your greatest passion and/or talents.
2. “It is impossible to make money pursuing your passion”
After her light bulb-moment, the woman considered it for a moment and instantly saw the practical objections of doing something with that passion. How could she ever make a living with food? Didn’t that only cost money?
Hint 1 It is always worth the effort to investigate what might be possible with your passion. Start by asking yourself the right questions about that passion. In the example: which aspect of food does she like best? Just the enjoyment? Or also the criticizing? The baking? Improving the recipe? Then, ask yourself: what other talents can you connect this with? For instance, do you like to write? Or are you good in telling stories to a large group of people? Do you enjoy teaching others in smaller groups?
Hint 2 Next, get creative. What would you specifically want to create with this passion? Once you know this, you can connect it to a commercial concept and market it. You can turn almost anything into a business model. Let others think along with you, if you find this particularly hard!
Hint 3 Meanwhile, immerse yourself in networks of people who share the same passion. This way, you stay close to the action and will be up-to-date on the latest developments. Because of your connections and by showing your passion and expertise, opportunities may arise that you never could have dreamt of before!
Remember: the largest predictor of your success is the extent of your desire for it. If you want to be successful in the area of your passion, then it is important to keep on feeling the passion, to feed it, and to take it very seriously!
3. “Everyone has one predominating passion”
Nowadays, it is popular to claim that everyone has one certain passion and mission in life (your so-called ‘life purpose’). But the more this is repeated, the more frustrating it will become if you are unable to discover your passion.
Writer Elizabeth Gilbert was one of those types, who had a long-held desire to write, from a young age onwards. Because her passion was exhibited early on, she always cried the loudest: “you know deep down what your passion is, so go for it!” The consequence: people who found themselves unable to discover that passion, only felt like an even bigger loser. Until Gilbert discovered, to her shame, that this it not how it works for everybody! She explains in this movie that she also knows people who do not have one all-compassing passion, as she does; but who do, in fact, lead a passionate life. She calls them hummingbirds. Those who let their curiosity guide their interests, can just as easily be ‘done’ with those interests in a number of years, already on their way to something new. Some people just have multiple interests and will do all kinds of projects in their lives. Nothing wrong with that!
Hint: Sometimes it is hard to determine whether you might be such a hummingbird, or that you feel like one passion rises above all – mainly because we are sometimes inclined to make a potentially large passion ‘smaller’ after your head gets involved (‘but that is not realistic’, or: ‘I am not good enough’). Just think about it. Do you perhaps have passions that revealed itself at a young age, but were suppressed – for one reason or another – or not recognized? Did you perhaps put certain passions on hold? Or are they changing every few years and do you consider yourself to be a true hummingbird?
4. “If something really is your passion, you feel no fear”
The prevailing idea is that, as long as you are working with your passion, everything will go effortlessly. In assuming this, there is one imminent danger: you interpret the fear that still lurks around the corner as a signal that it apparently is not your passion after all. This cannot be further from the truth! It is exactly when you are working with your passion, and you so badly want to earn your money with it, that you are at your most vulnerable. Because if this, the thing that you love doing most, does not succeed – what must you do?
Hint: Do not lose sight of your goal because of fear, and do not forget: fear is in your head, passion in your heart. Each time fear rears her ugly head, focus on your desire – and do not get distracted by the figments of your imagination!
Which of these 4 misconceptions about following your passion do you recognise most in yourself?