There are five stages to finding something you’re truly passionate about.
The first stage is a type of initial interest. You have to find things others are doing – by watching YouTube, reading blogs or books, or people-watching (and listening) in coffee shops, for example – then see if there’s any strong, internal interest for you to try it.
Once you’ve decided there is something you are interested in doing, you practice it. This is where many people give up on their passions, but hang in there! Practice not only allows you to improve on what it is you’re doing, it allows you to explore all of the areas of what it is you’re doing so you can really determine whether or not it qualifies as a true, blue passion for you.
Next in the process of identifying your passion is full engagement. This is what happens when you find yourself in the flow of practice. Suddenly you’re losing track of time and putting off other things because this one thing is so engaging.
It’s at this stage where you might be led to believing you’ve found your passion, and on some level that might be true, but there are two more stages the activity must go through before it can truly be identified as a passion for you.
The next stage is fulfillment. When you’re putting all of those hours into the activity, are you feeling fulfilled from it? Or is the fulfillment coming from something else, like the possibility of money or fame from doing the activity? One great way to evaluate the activity at this stage is to ask yourself: If I had all the money in the world and was perfectly healthy in every physical, mental, and social aspect, would I still do this thing I’m doing?
If you can answer “yes– to that question, the last stage is the real key to identifying your passion: does it give you a sense of purpose? Are you doing the activity because part of you feels as though you simply half to?
Once you’ve taken an activity through all five stages, congratulations, that’s something you’re really, truly passionate about. Go do that thing more often.
It’s important to keep in mind that these stages aren’t likely to occur rapidly in succession. Rather, it can – and often does – take a lot of time for each stage to fully develop. Plan to invest time in your pursuit of passions, in the end it will certainly pay off.