Thursday, August 6, 2009

Finding Your Passion

Passion is not reserved just for romantic relationships. Passion is something you love. It is the fire in your gut; the motivation that drives you to perform a particular task or undertake an endeavor; and the immense feeling of satisfaction you get while pursuing something that makes you happy.

Sadly, about 75% of us do not know what we are passionate about. To make it worse, we have no idea how to tap into the passion lurking inside us. We hear people talking about it, living it and making money off the pursuit of their passion. What about the rest of us?

Here are some questions to ask while searching for your passion:
  • What did I always enjoy doing as a child?
  • While participating in those childhood pursuits, what skills and talents were required?
  • What are you currently drawn to? What skills and talents are required?
  • What do you read about the most?
  • What are your talents?
  • What are you skills?
  • What have you always wanted to do?
  • What task or project are you working on that absorbs your attention so that you do not even notice time passing?
  • When you talk about something, how enthusiastic are you?
  • Ask people around you: What do you think are my talents and skills? Sometimes others can see us better than we see ourselves. What topic of conversation makes me light up while we are talking?
  • What are you good at?
  • What do you enjoy that utilizes skills and talents you can develop?
  • What do you dream about doing? Do not be shy. Think big.
These are just a few questions to get started. Write down the answers. Take the time to ponder them. You do not have to be good at your passion. Skills can be developed. Consider the following true story:

An obese person dreams of doing a triathlon. However, he knows from childhood this is something he always wanted to do. This person does not have the body for the sports involved, specific muscles are not developed, etc. So he starts slow by losing the weight and getting involved in an exercise program.

As the weight comes off, he intensifies his training, working up to the level of fitness required to swim, run and bike for miles on end. He is happy and that happiness builds as he realizes his goal. He becomes passionate about racing, health and fitness.

Then he competes in his first triathlon and finishes in the specified amount of time. No, he did not come in first. That is not point. He did something that fulfilled him. Along the way, he found related things to be passionate about. Now after his first big race, he shoots his aim higher and continues to train and compete. He also coaches people along and has become an inspiration to others. This is exactly what he wanted to do in life.

There are many resources out there that can help guide us in the quest to discover our passion. One of the first things to do is Google “finding your passion”. There are many good blogs and articles out there to help people get started. Also consider these books:

Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar

I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was: How to Discover What You Really Want and How to Get It by Barbara Sher and Barbara Smith

One thing needs to be clear. Having a passion for something and pursuing it does not always equate to earning money, especially not right away. So do not quit your job today. Many cleaver people have found a way to combine their passion with work. It is possible but be realistic. Sometimes what thrills us may not be able to pay the mortgage or put food on the table—at least not yet.

Have you discovered your passion? What is it? How did you find it?


Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Tammy,

Great Post. Right on the money.

My passion...obviously, is writing. I can't stop writing because the little voices in my head keep talking.

But my other passion is helping others. I've done training classes (for my job w/the state, Red Cross & Church) and I love to help others succeed. My biggest thrill is when they succeed beyond me. No problem. just give me a wave as you stride by! (g)

By-the-way, for anyone interested in running or triathlons, there's a great article, Couch Potato to 5K that tells you to start slow and be consistent until you work up to your goal. Don't just put on the Nikes and hit the road for 3.2 miles. Good advice in any endeavor.


Sally Kilpatrick said...


I really liked your post because I think I've been focusing on whether or not I'm good at writing, and that doesn't matter as much as the passion to write.

Now I just have to figure out what I'm passionate about writing.

Sandy, thanks for the hint on the 5K site, too. I've been thinking about running a road race, something I haven't done since college. Even then I can only say I finished--usually with a little help from my friends. : )


Susan May said...

Tammy, great post. Passion is important. It is what us give 100% or more. If we aren't passionate about what we want we will give up before we get it.

Tammy Schubert said...


You are right on the money. Start slow and be consistent.

In all the reading I have done about writing, I keep coming across the same thing. The authors encourage us to write every day no matter what. Getting in the habit of doing this every day consistently makes us better writers.

Sally, I'm with you. I need to find out what I'm passionate about writing. Romance is it, but there are so many subgenres to consider.

Susan, you made a great point. If we have no passion for what we are doing, we will give up. I know a writer who just threw in the towel after receiving a large number of rejections during the course of a year. This individual has a natural talent for writing but just got so discouraged and quit. Passion was lacking; otherwise,she would have made it through this and kept pursuing publication.

Marilyn Baron said...

I enjoyed your post. My passion is writing and every one of the bullets in your post points in that direction so I know I'm doing what I love. I have been interested in writing since elementary school and have made a career of it. That desire has never wavered.

My second passion is reading, which I think is related to the first and I read every spare moment I have. I even read when I'm watching television (or rather when the television is on).

My third passion is travel. I've traveled a lot but there are still a lot of places I want to go.

Marilyn Baron

Mike said...

Great post! Your true story sounds eerily familiar :).

Your closing paragraph is dead-on. Sometimes people expect more out of their passion than reality grants. In addition to triathlon, I am passionate about technology - but you won't see me speaking at conferences or published in magazines. It just hasn't worked out that way even though I have physically pursued some of those channels. However, I am the go-to guy within every company I work for. Not necessarily because I want to be - I kept a very low profile after my last job change, but because I know my stuff AND I'm passionate about it.

Tammy Schubert said...

Mike, glad you liked the post. Thank you for checking in with us. The story should sound familiar. You know all about it.

Tammy Schubert said...


Thank you for sharing your passions. You made a very good point that I didn't think to mention. A person can be passionate about more than one thing.

CiCi Barnes said...

Great post, Tammy.

I think our passion helps us in our endeavors to improve. If we improve, we are more empassioned to strive onward. Going forward will get us to our goal.

My first passion was math. Now that I think about it, it was kind of the chicken and egg thing. Was I good at it because I liked it, or did I like it because I was good at it?

After leaving the world of numbers, I turned to words for entertainment. My mind was full of story ideas and I began putting them on paper.

Now I am passionate about writing. I do it everyday, hopefully someday for a publisher. For now, I'm happy as I strive toward that goal . . . with passion in my heart.

Passion may not make me a great writer in the end, but it makes me a happy one as I work toward that end.

Thanks for the insight.


Tammy Schubert said...


Thank you for sharing your passions. The passion for math has me running in the other direction though. :)

Keep writing and enjoy the process.

Katie said...

What a great post!

Writing is one of my passions. I write because I must, now, which wasn't always true. But, you have to take what life gives you and run with it.

I felt guilty for 'becoming a writer' because I felt like I was faking the whole deal, or somehow taking on a persona that wasn't my own.

I even tried to quit. Yes I did. I've quit some other things in my life successfully, so I could kick this, too, right?


I'm harming no one. I'm saving myself the cost of anti depressants. I'm staying out of my family's hair (something I'm sure they are glad about from time to time.)

Sometimes, the dreams we are born with are not the dreams we keep. I'm holding onto this one.

Tammy Schubert said...

Katie, don't give up on your dream.

Anna Steffl said...

Tammy, this is really thought provoking. I realize that I have a passion for writing, but it's only a passion to write about certain things that have always really mattered to me. Romance is a big part of it, but I'm not a "romance" writer.

Maxine Davis said...

I really enjoyed your post. You are right about so many things!

For many years I was passionate about my job and passionate about being a closet-writer. Now that I'm retired, I'm passionate about doing things I kept putting off "until I retired." Yes, I am still passionate about my writing. I think everyone at PF&HT is passionate about writing and it makes me feel good.

Linsey Lanier said...


Thanks for the thought-provoking and therapeutic post.

Knowing the specifics of our passions and reviewing them from time to time keeps the fires fanned. It helps a lot with the ups and downs of the publishing world. If we find our passion in every aspect of our lives, we'll be happier. Easier said than done, but worth the effort.

Great topic!


Tami Brothers said...

LOVE IT!!! I'm glad you did this post! I definitely needed to hear this right now.

I agree about the not quiting your day job. I know I'm one of those who put my life on hold thinking my call was just around the corner. Now I'm having to play catch-up and work double duty to stay afloat. And am still waiting for that call that's just around the corner.

Love the story! I hope whoever it is about is still doing great.

Loved your post in the Galley on creating a blog, by the way. Very informative.


AVATC said...

Hi, Tammy! This article is an outstanding summary about finding and pursuing one's passion! You're right that a large majority of people don't know their passion or how to tap into it.

I have noticed that people who are lacking a driving passion will feel like something is missing in their life. To fill that void, they will make 1 or a combination of these 4 life-altering changes:

1) Have a baby
2) Change residence (buy new home, move to new city, etc.)
3) Change jobs
4) Change relationships (get married, get divorced)

Making one of these changes doesn't solve the problem or fill the void. In fact, the change further complicates the problem. Before embarking on a life-altering change, some quiet introspection centered around your list of questions may turn up the all-encompassing and totally fulfilling passion.

I also have noticed that people without a passion may become fixated on a celebrity. In fact, I think our culture's obsession with celebrity "news" is to feed this insatiable hunger that people have when they lack or ignore their own passion.

It happened to me with Barry Manilow. Through journaling and other reflection, I discovered that Barry brought three things to my life that were lacking -- music, travel, and friendships. Once I realized that he was the channel for those things, I could concentrate on incorporating more of each into MY life instead of living vicariously through his. Most people never make the connection between the celebrity and their own feelings of something missing in their lives.

Many people have asked me how I started in my passion of performing voice-over work, so I posted the story on my web site:

Thanks again for the thought-provoking article. It certainly showcases your passions of writing and helping others.

Karen Commins

Ana Aragón said...

Hey, Tammy,

Sorry I'm in here house today and got to see the little kiddos!

My problem is that I have many passions--I love to write, I love to teach...I could be a full-time student...I love to things with my hands.

Any ideas?


Tammy Schubert said...

Thank you all for sharing your passions and thoughts on the subject.

Ana, I'm not sure what to tell you except that you might want to see if a crash course in time management helps :) Split your time across all of them.

Karen Commins said...

Ana, you will enjoy Barbara Sher's book "Refuse to Choose!: Use All of Your Interests, Passions, and Hobbies to Create the Life and Career of Your Dreams". She has created the term "scanner" to define people with multiple interests and passions. The things you love are important parts of you, and she gives you techniques for incorporating them into your life.

Hope this info helps.

Karen Commins

Nicki Salcedo said...

Tammy, great life question and great motivation questions. The point is we love doing lots of things, but can we focus our energy on doing the one thing we most love? I'll have to think about that!

Mary Marvella said...

My passions is writing, telling stories. It has always been there.