There’s a big myth in our culture: that passion can only be spontaneous. You either love your job or you don’t. You either enjoy exercising or hate it. You are interested in reading books or you find them boring. That passion can’t be forced or created.
I disagree. Passion can be created. Even for things you don’t currently enjoy.
By tweaking the activities and pursuits you engage in, you can find a passion for anything. All it takes is a bit of patience and an open mind.
The benefit is that you end up loving the things you have to do anyways. Exercising, learning, studying, working and almost any pursuit can be made into a passion. And if you know how to do it, existing passions can be turned from mildly interesting to exciting. The skill of finding your passion is like turning up the dial for the amount of color you experience in life.Here are some ways to find your passion:
1. Get Curious – Curiosity is the basis of passion. Shake off your current understandings and begin from the view that you are almost completely ignorant on the subject. Then look for novelty to boost your interest.
2. Make it a Game – Give yourself rules, objectives and strategic constraints. The more creative thinking required, the better.
3. Set a Goal – Create a specific goal along with a deadline. This can infuse mundane activities with a sense of direction and purpose. Writing a report goes from being just another task, to a creative challenge that pushes you.
4. Express Yourself - Find hidden opportunities for self-expression. This could mean inventing a style for folding clothes. Changing the format you write code in or altering the style of your presentation. View each activity as an act of expression and originality.
5. Focus – Cut distractions and eliminate noise. The more you focus on an activity the better you can notice interesting qualities about it. The only truly boring activity is the one you can’t pay attention to.
6. Jigsaw Piecing – A jigsaw puzzle has hundreds of uniquely shaped pieces of a picture. View your activities as pieces of a larger image. This can turn dull activities into individual snippets of a more fascinating whole.
7. Dial Down Cravings – Have you ever noticed how the hungrier you are, the less able you are to enjoy the taste of food? This works the same way with passion. The more you crave a goal (instead of the process containing the goal) the less likely you are to develop a passion for it. Goal-setting is good. Goal-obsession is not.
8. Connect with Talents – How can you apply your existing talents to an activity? Find ways to use skills you already have in a new endeavor. An artistic person could draw pictures to help himself study. An athletic person might be able to use her strength and endurance as a speaker.
9. Overcome the Frustration Barrier – If an activity is too difficult for you to become enthusiastic about it, slow down. Worry less about results and more about experimenting until you build up skill. Whenever I try a new hobby, I strive to just try things out before building skills. This keeps me from getting frustrated and ensures the process is fun.
10. Leech Enthusiasm – Energy is contagious. If you spend time with someone who exudes passion about a subject, some of it will rub off on you. Seek out people who have the energy you want and get them to describe their motivation. Often it will point you to key information you had no idea could be so interesting.
11. Remove the Chains – Feeling forced into an activity is a sure way to kill any passion. Instead of flowing with the task, you rebel against it, making you miserable. Be aware of the consequences for not acting, but remove the feeling that you don’t have a choice. You always have a choice.
12. Tune the Challenge – For boring tasks, make them more difficult. For frustrating tasks, make them easier. This can be done by varying the speed or constraints you need to complete a task. Boring chores can be made more interesting by setting a time-limit. Frustrating assignments can be made easier by allowing yourself an awful first-draft instead of perfection.
13. Get instruction – Finding a teacher can give you the basic level of understanding necessary to enjoy an activity. Sometimes passion can be drained just by not knowing the basics.
14. Humble confidence – Confidence is necessary for passion, but arrogance can destroy it. Build a humble confidence where you believe in your abilities to handle the unknown, but you also have a great respect for it.
15. Focus Immediately – Look at the next immediate step. Don’t concern yourself over what needs to be done next month or next year if it overwhelms you. Focus on each step of the marathon, not how many miles you have left.
16. Play – If the process confuses or bothers you, just play with it. Don’t have a purpose until you can define one.
17. Eliminate – This one might not apply, but it is always good to use. If you really can’t enjoy something, find a way to eliminate it from your life. Don’t waste your time doing things you don’t enjoy. Either cultivate a passion or get rid of it.