How To Find Your Passion

Last week I launched the Potential Psychology's Positive Work Facebook page and in this post I asked you, 'What would make your work more positive, whatever work you do?'

I had so many fantastic responses.  Thank you to each of you who left comments or contacted me to share your work challenges, hopes and goals.  I've now got a notebook full of ideas and topics to cover as I prepare for the official launch of Potential Psychology's Positive Work and I will cover each of them - I promise. 

A hot topic for many of you is Finding Your Passion. This is such a big subject that I'll cover it in a series of posts over the coming weeks but today, let's talk about passion and purpose. What are they? And how do you find them?

Purpose 

When we talk about purpose we tend to mean a big plan or strategy for our life that fills it with meaning. It's something we're meant to do. Something that feels intentional, important, special somehow.  

Having a purpose in life is special.  Many studies now have found that people who feel they have purpose and meaning in their lives are also happier, healthier and live longer.

Of course we're not just talking about a career or work purpose.  I feel that parenting is a purpose for me but I have another purpose - to share knowledge that helps others to flourish. I fulfil this through my work.  (In fact I'm fairly certain that I'm fulfilling the same purpose through both of these activities, just in different ways, but that's a post for another day.) Other people find a sense of purpose through religious, community, social, musical, philanthropic or sporting activities.

What is Passion?

When we're talking about work and careers, passion is the emotion we experience when we are working to our purpose.  It's a feeling of excitement, of intrinsic motivation, of drive, that makes work feel a lot less like, well, work. People who are passionate about their work, who are working to a purpose, often say that they would do what they do even if they never earned a cent from it.  Some people refer to this as a calling.

How do I find my purpose?

Now that's the million dollar question, isn't it? I'd love to give you a simple answer but of course there isn't one. For some people finding their purpose is a life's work and I think for almost everyone, even those who have an inkling of their life's purpose early on, it's a growing, developing thing.

The good news is that there are some pretty simple places to start looking. 

Something bigger than yourself

Here's an exercise for you to try.  Stop reading this for a moment, sit back and think about what you love to do, what you most enjoy, what excites you most about your work (paid or not) and think about who else is involved.  Who do you do your work for?  Is it purely for you? Or your boss? Or do you do it for a larger group of people? People you may not even know?

This was an aspect of purpose that really struck me when I first learnt of it.  Most people who work to a purpose often report working for something bigger than themselves. 

Bill Gates is reported to have been driven by a need to make computers and electronics more useful (to other people) through software.  

Oprah Winfrey says that her purpose is to 'connect people with their higher consciousness' (I don't really know what that means but I know it's to do with other people, not just Oprah herself).

Steve Jobs said Apple existed 'to delight customers.'

Bono writes songs full of political, social and religious themes.  Themes that address the betterment of society somehow.

Bill, Oprah, Steve, Bono and many more, are considered extremely successful in their chosen field and each has theme, strategy or aim that underlies what they do (or did in one case). Each of these themes is about other people and about something bigger than the individuals themselves. 

So here's my challenge to you.  Tell me, what is your greater purpose? Who are you working for? What are you seeking to do and for whom? What is your theme or strategy?  Tell me about it in the comments below. I'd love to hear about it.

Stay tuned for plenty more on finding your purpose and in the meantime,