At some point we all ask the question: What should I do with my life? A good place to start is always with who you are.
There’s a deep longing in all of us to do something that matters. Some of us know what that is. If that’s you, good for you. Go out and do it. But others find themselves stuck as they try to figure out what they want to do – what they should do. I have asked myself this question at least weekly. I want to do all the things (the list is astonishingly long), but I find I waste more time wondering and researching the options. I wonder what my passion is and how I find my passion. And what does it mean to have a passion for something, and does that matter?
So many questions.
I’ve read a lot of experts’ (and “experts’”) views on finding your passion and doing it for a living. Many equate it to purpose (which is much more simple), and others relate it to your interests or skills. I’m in the interests and skills camp, as I believe purpose is boiled down to something really simple – loving God and loving others. But even in light of the simplicity, we still have an important role to play.
So what is that role? And do we find our passion and try to do it for a living?
Let’s ask ourselves some questions.
And if you’re wondering what it means to find your passion, this post is a starting point to understanding what passion is.
Where have I been?
A big part of figuring out what to do with your life and finding what you love, is deciphering your story. People connect to stories. You know what I mean – how you got to this current moment. We connect with other people through learning about them and finding similarities and examples of how to overcome something in which we’re struggling.
So answer these questions:
- What events in the past currently influence my relationship with my parents?
- Parents, or lack of them, are always a huge component of our stories
- What was an event that stands out in my mind from my past?
- What was something really hard that I hated going through at the time, but now I’m grateful I experienced?
- What is a choice I made in the past that saved me from something hard later?
- What was an instance of serendipity?
Maybe you see a few themes weaving through your own story. There may be some lessons you learned that you want others to experience.
What am I good at?
This is where a lot of people tend to focus when trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. While it’s only part of the discovery, it is still important to know.
- What do I enjoy doing?
- What would I be willing to do for free because I enjoy doing it so much?
- What do other people recognize in me and ask me to do?
- What training and skills do I have?
What would I tell my past self?
I heard once on the Hope Writer’s podcast that one of the best ways to figure out what your message should be (as we all have a message), is to think of what your past self from a few years ago needs to know. Often the people who teach us the most are ones just a couple steps ahead of us. Other times they’ve lived an entire life in comparison, but a couple years back is a good place to start.
- If I could tell my past self (from a few years ago) something or some lesson, what would I say?
What is my personality?
I may have every desire in the world to run a ministry, and I may have the skills for it, but if my personality is not bent towards working with people or thrives off of a hectic pace, I may not want to start something like that. Our personalities are strong factors in deciphering how we should spend our time. If we try to act despite our personalities, we’ll face burn out, we’ll strain relationships, and we won’t feel very authentic.
I do believe that our personalities change over time based on our experiences, our challenges, and our relationships, so it’s good to revisit this every so often.
- Do I prefer working by myself or with others?
- Do I charge ahead on something or sit back and consider all the options?
- Is it easy for me to juggle a lot of tasks or responsibilities?
- What situations in life give me the most joy?
What is my biggest dream?
Lastly, it’s good to evaluate what you would love to do most. While “where you’ve been” is your why and “what you’re good at” is your how, “what you want to do” is your what.
- If money, connections, location, wasn’t an issue, what would I love to do most?
- What’s keeping me from pursuing this?
I hope you were able to take a minute and answer these questions. If you need help with the organization, I’ve compiled the questions onto a worksheet to make it easier.
Maybe after doing this exercise you don’t have a concrete answer yet, but you have an idea. This is not a quiz where an algorithm tells you what you should do next. It’s a time of self-exploration, and it is fine if nothing is quite concrete. You’ve taken the first step and now you know what to look for. Can you answer the question: what do you have to offer the world?
I mentioned something about doing your passion for a living. That’s a whole other post, and something I’ll be tackling soon. Be sure to subscribe below so you’ll be notified when it’s published.