Stop trying to find your purpose, calling or passion! You’re looking the wrong way! Try focusing on their origins instead.

Tijmen Rümke
Aug 2, 2017 · 5 min read

Find your Purpose. Find your Passion. Find your Calling. Or your Mission. And for good measure, go with the Flow.

Pff, give me a break!

Finding Passion, Flow, Purpose, Calling and Mission. All these big words. All these things to find. I don’t like it. Moreover, I think it’s disempowering.

Why? Three reasons: (1) Size, (2) Metaphor and (3) Misdirection of attention.

Let me explain and give you a better approach.

Oh almighty Passion!

Wait, you don’t like these words? I know, it might sound surprising, since I do talk about them a lot. But let me explain.

Partly, it’s because these are words that for a big part derive their meaning from talking about it in the self-help field. They miss some roots in reality. Which makes me feel a little obnoxious every time I use one of them.

But more importantly, they’re majestic and intimidating words. They ooze with an aura of impressiveness. We only use it in contexts of glamor and uber-importance. When faced with such an awe-inspiring presence, I tend to stifle.

Mind you, I’m all for the choice of positive and grand words. But, when framing the objective in such an intimidating way leads to perfectionism and analysis-paralysis, maybe dialing it down would be more effective in actually generating action.

So, can we swap the big, awe-inspiring words for simple, real-life and almost mundane terms? You bet!

Yoohoo, where are you?

This brings me to a second problem with the whole “Find your Purpose” speak. To find it is the wrong metaphor.

The metaphors we use are important. They imply certain beliefs about how the world works. And finding a passion or purpose — like it’s a map with a route you can follow — is just not how it works.

Besides that framing it like finding disassociates it from you, instead of seeing it as part of you.

Besides that finding implies that it is out there, ready, waiting to be found.

Besides that finding your purpose, in a way, says that there is a “the one for you” purpose out there. Everything else will come up short.

Most of all, framing it as finding is wrong. You don’t find purpose, passion or calling. You develop them!

They start out as small interests, things you enjoy and you tend to be good at. And over time, through work, practice, and experience, they’ll develop into a passion, purpose and a calling.

It’s like you’re looking for a beautiful tree. While actually you should be developing all these seeds around you and nurturing them into a tree.

Where should we place our attention?

Passion, Purpose, and Calling are developed over time. That means that trying to find them ready-made is a fool’s errand. They’re not there yet!

So we need to shift our focus to the building blocks of passion, calling or purpose. They won’t resemble them yet and will look a whole lot less fancy. But they are real and way easier to spot.

What you need to look for are:

  1. Interest. What interests you?
  2. Enjoyment. What do you enjoy doing?
  3. Aptitude. What do you have an aptitude for?
  4. Contribution. Where are your contributions valued and what do you like contributing to?
  5. Energy. Doing what boosts your energy?

[[Side note: I chose for the word aptitude over talent. Talent is innate and fixed. That would mean you’d have to discover the ones you’re born with. Aptitude is much more fluid. The aptitude you have for a certain skill is the combination of your innate talent with all your experience and development up to this point.]]

These are the small, simple and easily detectable components of your life and work. And they will lead to their bigger counterparts.

An interest and aptitude can develop into Mastery. An interest, enjoyment, and aptitude can become a Passion. Combine them all with something you can contribute and it can develop into your Purpose of Calling.

When you want to get answers to the big questions, start with the small ones!

“What’s my purpose?” might be the question you want the answer on. But focusing your questions on the smaller building blocks allows you to ask much more powerful and effective questions.

So, notice what interests you and what you get enjoyment out. And try to figure out what it is in these things that interest you/you enjoy? What are the commonalities?

If you want a whole list of the best questions to ask, check out my Guide to Finding Your Life’s Purpose here. Or in a beautiful ebook-form, when you subscribe for my newsletter The CurioCabinet.

Want to really get to work on this with me? Want more focus and clarity in your life and work? Want to adopt the right mindset in approaching developing your purpose? Join me for my as-good-as-free Masterclass “Aligning with Purpose; The Curious Way” on Friday, November 10th. More info and sign up here!

I hope it helped you. If so, hitting that heart button really helps others find this piece too. As of course does sharing it with someone. Both would be much appreciated!

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August 02, 2017/ Tijmen Rümke/

Originally published at

Tijmen Rümke

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Empowering creatives to gain clarity on purpose and get business savvy. Trainer by day, know-it-all by night.

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