How to Easily Find Your True Passion

It’s not what you think or do for that matter.

Photo by Daniel Burka on Unsplash
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek”
-Joseph Campbell

It’s interesting how as kids, we are super passionate, but not the most practical.

And as we become seasoned adults, we are much more practical and not nearly as passionate.

The reality is that life can hit us hard and something like pursuing your passion just has to take a back seat.

You have bills to pay, people to support and work to do.

But one of the most painful feelings is living a life that you know deep down isn’t the one that you were meant to live.

It feels as if you’re drifting further away each day from where you wanted to be.

And as you begin to enter a period of despair, maybe you’re one of the few who was brave enough to actually try something out.

You tried to step out of your comfort zone and even made a transition or two with your life. You take on the new job, start a new relationship, or move to a different city, but for some reason, you can’t shake that one feeling.

You find yourself thinking, “This isn’t it. It’s not what I thought I wanted”.

Sure, in the beginning, things feel exciting and you get a rush from doing something new, but you find yourself bored after a little while, and you search for the next big thing to do with your life.

Then so begins the vicious cycle of constantly trying new things, but no matter how hard you try, you still feel unfulfilled.

I’m about to tell you something that most people don’t even realize, and this is it.

Your passion isn’t something that can be figured out.

I’ll explain shortly, but first, let me share a little more about how I know all this.

Finding Success, But Never Feeling Successful

I grew up really poor both physically and emotionally.

My father gambled away my college savings to illustrate his money management skills. After over 20 failed business startups, he was also well into six-figures worth of debt.

My parents ended up divorcing because there was just too much unbearable pain going on in their relationship.

And looking back on that time now, I never got to grieve the pain of having a broken family.

I was too busy just worrying about how to survive that I tabled my emotions and focused only on making money. The hope was to make enough money to get my mother and brother out of the crappy situation we were all living in.

Coming from a broken family sucks. I remember one time I couldn’t find my mom in the house only to discover she was in the garage inside her car just weeping. She was in so much distress that she didn’t even realize I was there.

So that’s when I committed to figuring things out. I had to find a way to make some cash and make it fast.

I worked any and every job I could get. My first job was one I illegally worked full-time hours as a 14-year-old kid. Ever since then, I was always working at least two jobs.

I eventually graduated from pharmacy school and got my first six-figure salary right out of school.

I got a nice apartment, a nice sports car, and financial stability. Then that’s when I realized something.

I didn’t feel any better than when I started. And what was even more ironic is my mom didn’t even want my money.

I was still unhappy, angry, and lost.

And the one thing I thought this whole time would help me finally feel fulfilled in my life fell extremely short of what I thought having money would deliver.

It was anticlimactic.

I was so busy being proud of myself for getting myself into a much better financial situation than my father that I never really connected with who I really was in the first place. All that anger towards him helped me survive, but there was one big problem that never got addressed

My trust issues were still there.

My low self-esteem was still a good friend of mine.

All the crappy things I thought would go away was still hanging around.

It’s like even though everything on the outside has changed so much, everything was still in turmoil on the inside.

And once I started to not be as worried about money, things started to resurface in my heart.

I came to grips with the deep realization that who I became was nowhere near who I wanted to be. I was so easily swayed by opportunities to make money. Even if it meant making it dishonestly.

It felt like I failed myself.

So on the three-year anniversary of my pharmacy job, I quit.

I wanted to take some time to figure out what I was passionate about.

My wife and I saved enough money to leave our lives behind in New York City and packed our bags to go on a two-month long cross country adventure. We moved to Los Angeles because I thought my passion was in filmmaking.

Surprisingly, I achieved a level of success that not many people are able to get to. Together with the group I was working with, we made multiple short films that were fairly successful. A couple of our pieces got featured on television, some others were made with celebrities we knew, and our most viewed short film reached 23 million views.

These were all fun accomplishments to have, but if I was being honest, things still didn’t feel right on the inside.

This was when my heart began to open even further and I finally realized the reason I never really figured out what my passion was.

Why You Can’t Figure Out Your Passion Even Though You’ve Already Tried Hard to

Quitting my job to try something else wasn’t the only thing I did to try to figure out my passion.

I also went on a whole bunch of humanitarian trips to some of the most remote areas of the world thinking if I just kept helping people, my passion would just show up.

But it didn’t.

In fact, I just ended up more jaded.

There’s something about living in an area like the favelas of Rio De Janeiro for a month then coming home to a first world country that really messes you up.

Two-thirds of the kids living in the favelas don’t live past 21-years old because of all the violence that occurs there. So you can imagine, I went from literally dodging bullets in Brazil to my home catching up with friends who were so caught up in things like the new car they wanted or the vacations they want to go on.

I started to feel more disconnected with myself and began to feel even more lost.

By now, I thought I’ve tried everything to figure out my passion and I was starting to lose hope.

Then there came a moment where I finally understood what I’ve been doing wrong this whole time.

I saw a Ted talk by Simon Sinek on the concept of finding your “Why”.

He made this term famous and he explains that your Why is a purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.

In other words, your Why is what your true passion in life is.

And learning more about things like Simon’s work on finding your Why finally helped me find mine. And the biggest realization for me was that it was never something meant to be figured out logically.

The Science Behind Why Your Passion Cannot be Figured Out.

There are two halves of your brain and there are very specific roles they each play.

Your left hemisphere is the logical side and your right hemisphere is the emotional side.

Here’s the real interesting part on why most people have so much trouble feeling what their passion is.

As a society, we are mostly dominant in the logical side of our brains.

Think about it, even at our jobs, most of us are rewarded for our logical capabilities, not our emotional ones. We get paid for what we know how to do, not for what we feel.

My logic is what helped me figure out how to go from being dirt poor to getting into school to get a six-figure salary.

So it’s no surprise when people try to figure out how to connect with their passion, they only approach it logically.

“What kind of job should I go for?”

“What kind of school should I apply to?”

“What are the next steps I should take with my life?”

But here’s the big truth I realized.

Finding your passion is an emotional process, not a logical one.

Passion cannot be figured out, it can only be felt.

The Hardest Part About Connecting With Your Passion

Most people don’t know the real meaning of passion.

Passion comes from the Latin word “patior” which literally translates to “I suffer”

One key trait you see in successful people who are intimately connected with their passion is their perseverance. They are so committed to their cause that they’ve even gone through a great deal of suffering to achieve success.

What’s even harder to accept than the fact that you will go through hardships when living a life that honor’s your passion is that the whole process of discovering it can be very painful as well.

The truth is the pain you’ve been through in your life shows you the way to your passion.

And until you take the courage to move towards your pain, you’ll never discover the true passion you’ve been seeking. It’s the cave you’re afraid to enter that holds the treasure you seek and Joseph Campbell so beautifully put it.

For much of my life, I’ve been in a lot of pain.

I came from a broken family.

I’ve been cheated on by a girl I thought I’d marry. And not just once. Three times.

I’ve been told that I wouldn’t amount to much because of how little I knew.

All this pain caused me to try and be someone I’m not. And I just thought if I became who I thought others wanted me to become, the pain would finally go away.

But it didn’t.

And the worst part is, I let the pain steer me away from my passion rather than move towards it.

I completely lost touch of who I really was and I was dying on the inside.

It wasn’t until I started reconnecting with myself to muster up the courage to do what’s important that things finally changed.

I let my pain point me in the right direction on what it was that the pain took away that was so near and dear to my heart. That one thing that I was so passionate about.

For me, it was that safe space to feel free to be my true self and understand the fact that I was enough.

And I knew this was my passion because I finally felt it. I wanted to do everything in my power to do more of it.

So now, I’m extremely grateful to share that I’ve been able to leave my day job I hated to transition my life into one where each day is spent cultivating the safe spaces needed to activate the potential of those I work with.

Now as a personal coach, I get to help people discover their own true passion and talents and as a business coach, I help people create something practical and make more impact and money with their passion.

The Real Steps to Discover Your Passion

When I talk about finding your passion, I’m not necessarily referring to a particular job, title, or accomplishment you can achieve. While these things can all be things that you do as a result of finding your passion, it’s not actually what your passion is.

Let me explain.

You might think you’re passion is to be an artist, but your passion isn’t about what you do, it’s about why you want to do it.

Why does being an artist make you come alive?

The only way to discover the answer to this question is to connect deeply with the impact you want to make.

The simplest exercise I use to help people connect with their passion is a method that was inspired by Toyota known as the 5 whys.

What you do is you take the biggest goal you currently have with your life and then you begin to ask yourself what about that goal is important to you repeatedly until you have an answer that begins resonating with you on a deeply emotional level.

Here’s an example:

I want to learn the guitar.

What about learning how to play the guitar is it important to you?

Because I want to become a successful musician

What is it about becoming a successful musician that’s important to you?

Because I believe music from the heart changes lives and I want to help change people’s lives

What is it about changing people’s lives that’s important to you?

Because growing up, I loved how music can change your mood from bad to good. I love how it inspires you to move and dance to the beat. I love how it brings something out of you that wasn’t there before.

All these things, I want to brighten other people’s lives just like it did to mine with by creating my own music for them.

What is it about brightening other people’s lives that’s important to you?

My dad ran out on us so it was just me and mom. And when I told her I didn’t want to go to college in order to work on my career as a musician, we got into a fight so bad I ended up running away from home as well.

A few years later, she ended up with terminal cancer and I never got to say bye. When I had to identify the body, the guilt of cutting off my relationship with her overwhelmed me to the point I couldn’t stand on my two legs.

Later that night, the nurse handed me a guitar case saying it was from my mom and in it was a beautiful vintage guitar and a note was attached. It said the reason she was so against me becoming a musician is she became homeless for two years while trying to be one herself.

When she found out she was dying, she stumbled upon one of my CD’s and listened to it for the first time. It was after listening to my voice that she said she knew I had what it takes. She wrote that she knows I can change people’s lives with my music because I’ve changed hers.

She died with a smile on her face while listening to my songs.

Ever since then, I was determined to keep writing great music and it’s why I now want to learn the guitar. I want to use my voice to bring joy into other people’s lives. It’s my way of acknowledging to her I know now how much she really loved me and showing her that I love her too.

Notice how in the example we’ve discovered the passion behind the person’s goal was to bring joy into other people’s lives, but there’s a very deeply emotional story behind why she wants to make that impact.

While many may think finding your passion has to do with what makes only you come alive, it has to help other’s come alive as well.

What this person can do in order to bring joy into other people’s lives can be done through many different ways, but her choice was to do it through her music.

My own passion for cultivating safe spaces for others is not limited to my career or vocation. It can be applied anywhere and everywhere around me, which is what I both strive and struggle to do each day of my life.

It’s what helps me finally feel like I’m going in the right direction with my life because so many amazing results have happened recently that I can’t explain.

When you connect with your passion, why you live your life will always the same. How and what you do to live out that passion is flexible and can change.

This is why I’ve come to believe that your true passion can be only one main thing. It’s one purpose cause or belief deep inside of you that you would die happy if you’ve lived a life that made that passion come to life.

So set aside some time to apply this same method to figuring out the deepest why to your biggest goal for your life and then proceed to ask yourself why it is important to you.

And keep asking the same question until you stop thinking about the answer and you start feeling it.

You’ll notice your answer become less about the money you are hoping to make or the business you want to build and it has much more to do with the impact you want to make because of pain you’ve been through.

Dig deep into those stories of your life and let it connect to why you believe the things you do, why you’re inspired to make the changes that you want to make, and why you dream the dreams you do.

Think less and feel more.

And then you’ll find yourself one day with chills going down your spine as you come to the realization that “This is it.”

“I’ve finally connected with my passion. I can finally see who I really am”

Then begins the journey of living a life that’s a reflection of your passion rather than living one in pursuit of it.

Still Feeling Stuck?

Do you feel like you were meant to do something with your life, but still having trouble figuring out how?

I believe every individual has a unique set of passions and talents that can help fulfill an important need that exists in the world. And I love helping people become more aware of how to do so themselves.

You can download my free workbook, “What’s Next? Four Insanely Important Steps to Finding Your Unique Calling”, for some practical things you can immediately start doing today to find the clarity you need on how to best utilize your potential

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +435,678 people.

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