Written by Ami Defesche

Somewhere around the time I graduated college, I experienced what people are now starting to call: The Quarter-Life Crisis. It was not something I cared to admit at the time, but what I could admit was that I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going in life, or if I was even happy.  This characterized itself in all sorts of ways. I got flaky on my day job. I couldn’t focus on anything. I started side projects and promptly abandoned them. I was irritable and blamed my dissatisfaction with life on other people, my boss, my boyfriend, my parents.

But, ultimately, I realized that it was…me. I was dissatisfied with myself and where I was, but how do you fix that? How do you just “figure yourself out” as people kept urging me to do.

I tried making lists. “Things I Like To Do.” I tried polling other people. “What do you like to do?” I adopted hobbies I’d never tried, signed up for volunteer work (I got as far as orientation and lost interest, which I still regret.), and then, right as the new year rolled around the brilliant thought dawned on me that maybe self-discovery isn’t something you can rush. Maybe it’s a process, with an indefinite end.

So, here’s the solution I found which ultimately put me on the path to pursuing my passion:

 Do everything BUT search for your passion.

If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, don’t force it.  It’s like the people who go out in search of love. They won’t find it, unless they’re very lucky, but as soon as you just go with the flow and just experience life without putting anything on pause until you find what you’re looking for—guess what? You’ll probably stumble upon it without any trouble at all.

Try a few of these methods to get you started.

1. Make a List

Don’t make a list of possible passions. That automatically rules out things that you haven’t thought of or even heard of yet. Make a list of experiences, or things to try, adventures. I spent New Year’s Eve 2011 scribbling a list of 112 things I wanted to do or try for the year and resolved to complete as many as I could. By the end of the year I had completed about half and still had one of the most fulfilling years of my entire life, all without being able to say “this is what I do best.”

2. If it’s out of your comfort zone, make it a priority.

There’s a quote that says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” You have to venture into unknown territory to find new things, but also to find new things about yourself. Sometimes a lot of inspiration can come from a little change in routine.

3. Don’t worry about everyone else.

So, your friends have great and promising careers, or they’re halfway to famous because they found the one thing they were born to do. Don’t worry about them. I know what it’s like to feel like you’re “behind the rest of the class,” but, really, it’s fine to take your time figuring out what you love and want to do with your life. All too many times I’ve met older people who tell me stories about “ditching their corporate job and following their dreams” late into their 30’s and even 40’s.  Everyone takes their own time to figure things out. No rush.

4. Share your journey.

Bring friends along for the ride. You’re doing fun and exciting things now, but having company will make things all the more fulfilling. Friends can also be a great source of encouragement when you’re a little apprehensive about taking a big leap.

5. Be Open and Aware

When an opportunity strikes, don’t let it pass you by. It does not always come when it’s convenient for you, but use your instincts to know when you’ve come across an open door. I once met a man on a bus who just so happened to have 10 years experience in the industry I was trying to break out in. Our serendipitous meeting ended in some of the most valuable advice I received as a not-yet-broken-out writer. Needless to say, you never know when you’ll make a connection. Be open to receiving it.

Ultimately, just because you don’t know what your end-all-be-all passion is doesn’t mean you have to put life on hold. Quite the contrary, live life to the absolute fullest and you’ll be more likely to stumble upon what could take you on the fast track to a passionate future.

This article was originally written by Ami Defesche for TheUrbanRealist March 2013.

  • I love the quote from number 2! Getting out of your comfort zone is certainly one way to find new passions you may have.

  • I absolutely loved reading this post. Such a positive read and the tips are going to be taken on board and attempted! Thank you xx

  • These are great tips! I agree with the “Do everything BUT search for your passion” part. If you’re open minded, try new things and have fun, you’ll find your passion along the way, in my opinion.

  • I think when finding your passion you have to be a little selfish and think of yourself instead of just thinking of how others will react x

  • Fab post. I agree. I try to focus on my journey and ignore everything else happening in other people’s lives.

  • Nazy Nazy

    Life begins at the end of your comfy zone…. I loved this line and indeed it’s so true

  • Great post, some times just a change in mindset puts you back on track

  • Absolutely love this post and it’s is so real I love the tips and agree life is living just go with the flow and you will find your passion and what makes you tick but you have to try new things to find that passion

  • Leah Shafik

    These are great tips. I think the biggest thing in this life is comparison to others and caring what they think about you….x

    • Yeah it’s so important to not worry about other’s opinions in that sense.

  • Jodie Whitham

    Some amazing tips there! Although i know my career passion. I am still trying to work me in a way. It’s hard to find hobbies sometimes or work out what your interests really are when you’re not sporty or creative x

    • It takes creativity to write for your blog, so you’re closer than you think!

      • Jodie Whitham

        Didn’t think of it like that x

  • Hannah Latoya Bond

    Some great tips here, i really agree with the one about not worrying about everyone else x

    • It’s so important, yet so hard to do at times!

  • Jessica Lynn Martin

    Very good tips. My favorite is to share my journey. I love sharing my journey about my life. My passion is everything in my life.

    • That’s awesome Jessica!

  • Great tips here, I’m lucky that I found my passion a few years ago x

    • That’s great Stephanie!

  • I’ve really struggled with this, there’s a few things I’m passionate about but I’m always too practical when thinking about things x

    • I can totally relate. Finding the balance between the two is hard.

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