Finding Your Passion: The Big 4 Questions, Answered

passion mission
Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc. photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc

Everywhere you look there’s someone talking about how to go about finding your passion.

It seems we’re obsessed with the idea of finding passion.

And like anything else that everyone is talking about, there’s debate about it.

People want to know:

What is passion – is it that fiery feeling you have about an activity, or is it the thing that makes you jump out of bed every day that you simply must accomplish in your lifetime? 

How, exactly, do you find your passions? 

Do skills trump passion – in other words, are you better off in your career by focusing on what you’re good at rather than what you love?

Do you need to have passion? Or can you simply have work you enjoy and have that be good enough?


The Great Passion Debate

Even though we’re obsessed with passion, we can’t agree on what it is, how important it is, or how to go about finding it. 

My intent is not so much to create a guide for you to use, as it is to start a conversation (though if my thinking here clarifies things for you that’s great). 

So, here are my answers to the questions above.


Passion vs. mission – know what you’re seeking

First off, I think we can agree that it’s easy to get lost if we don’t know what we’re looking for. So let’s agree on some definitions first. 

To me, passions are activities that get us fired up. They are often the tools we use to accomplish our mission. 

Our mission, sometimes called our ‘purpose’ or our ‘why’ is the thing we want to accomplish in our lifetime or be engaged with during our life.

Our mission is the thing that makes us feel “at home” or “on purpose” and without it we feel a little lost in life, like we’re drifting and like there’s something we should be doing, but we don’t quite know what it is. 

I think people often say they want to find their passion when what they’re truly seeking is their mission.

Passions without mission can be fun, but they sometimes lack a deeper meaning. 

This is why passions can seem all over the place – we have too many, we sometimes get bored of them. They can lack the substance of mission. 

Mission can be an overarching life goal that can take on many different forms during one’s lifetime. For example, one might be a life-long teacher, and the form that takes on may look different at different points in life. 


The process of finding your mission

Finding your mission looks a little different for everyone, which is why a one size fits all prescription is so difficult to create.

Just like in therapy, no two client experiences are the same. But in therapy there is an overarching framework of how therapy works  which consists of building an alliance with the client and helping them re-write their negative story into a more positive one.  

The same is true for finding your mission, though the framework is different. One of the elements for the framework is that your whole life up until this point has been leading you to it.

It can feel very difficult to see until you find it and then it’s like it was staring you in the face the whole time. See what Christine Guthery said about her experience seeing this after the fact.

An intense and personal approach to finding your passion and your mission, like coaching, helps you because it is much easier for someone to see this from an outside perspective than it is to spot these patterns from inside your own life. 


The process of finding your passion

There are many good passion finding exercises out there. I think the problem for many people who have tried them and still have come up empty is that they are truly seeking their mission instead of their passion and then they wonder why nothing fits.

If you’re looking for passions, you can get started with resources here.

If you’re looking for mission, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get an outside perspective on it and do some soul searching on the questions from this post.

Do skills trump passion?

Do skills trump passion- in other words, are you better off in your career by focusing on what you’re good at rather than what you love?

It depends on how you define “better off.”

If, to you, better off means ‘happier’, then probably not. You’ll probably be happier by focusing on doing what you love, provided that you balance that focus with a focus on doing what you love in a sustainable way. That means, you don’t want to do what you love and starve to death in the process. 

If better off means ‘richer and more successful’, then possibly. Focusing solely on what you’re good at might get you there.

But we’ll have to assume that “good at” means that not only do you have the raw skills and talent to achieve a task, but you also have the stamina and willpower to push yourself through doing something that you don’t love and may not even like, over and over again. 

But then again, maybe skills aren’t where you should focus because you also have to account for the success that the rocket-fuel that you inject into the equation when you’re living your mission and passions . . . 

I think we can agree that ideally, the greatest success is at the nexus of what we’re good at and what we love to do.  And if there’s nothing at that intersection right now, use your passion to drive you to build skills in whatever area you love. 

So quit arguing about this question and start focusing on getting good at what you love. Then you don’t have to worry about it.


Do you need passion?

Do you need to have passion? Or can you simply have work you enjoy and have that be good enough? 

Of course you don’t need to have passion!

Don’t be silly. 

You don’t need passion, just like you don’t need to drive the Amalfi coast.

Like you don’t need to drink 96 point wine.

Like you don’t need to wear a delicious cashmere sweater while watching a roaring fire and the snowflakes fall on a panoramic view of the White Mountains.

And you certainly don’t need to have sunshine. Or white sand beaches. 

You just want those things.

You want to see your life in full color. Who doesn’t? So why settle for work you enjoy? Just because finding your passion is hard? Please. 

You’re going to let a little hard stop you from a life that feels worth getting out of bed for in the morning? 

I didn’t think so. 


Finding your passion

If you’re not doing what you love, your very first step is to make a commitment that you’re going to start moving – however slowly – toward whatever it is that makes your heart sing. 

And if you don’t yet know what that is, your first step is to begin to find out. 

In the comments below, I want to hear what you think, and also about what’s still standing in your way of finding your passions and doing what you love? 



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