As a kid, I had a pretty big imagination. Whether it was baking treats to give all my neighbors (there were only four houses on my street), using a yellow raincoat and a “detective kit” to pretend I was a spy, or making up dances in my living room, I was always up to something. Like all kids, I was so excited for each new idea and put my all into it. I got lost in these moments of make-believe, never thinking about what time it was, what was for dinner, or where a paycheck was coming from. Childhood was so easy, wasn’t it?
This inadvertent pursuance of passion we have as children typically dwindles as we get older. By the time I was in college, that zest for activities, creation, and hobbies faded (unless you count a zest for beer pong), and my energy shifted to spending time with my friends and going out on weekends. But then I graduated and something shifted. I watched my friends get new jobs, promotions, experiences, and relationships. It felt like the world was moving around me, and I was standing still.
I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have any desire or motivation to move forward; I just felt bored. Then I had a major ah-ha moment: I wasn’t doing anything exciting. I wasn’t passionate about my job and was still only focused on what my friends were doing on weekends. How could I expect to be excited when I wasn’t doing anything? Work, gym, dinner, sleep. Repeat. Many of us go through our days lacking passion, which, for a lack of a better word…sucks. We go through one day, three days, or entire weeks without doing something that lights our fire and lifts our energy.
By pursuing and practicing your passions, even on the smallest scale, you allow yourself to go deeper into something new. You awaken your senses, stimulate your brain, and make yourself happier. It’s true: passionate people are happy people, and people like to be around happy people. Think about someone you know who is passionate. Chances are you’re drawn to their energy and sometimes even wonder what it is about them that makes people love them. So once I realized that the missing link from my life was passion, I decided it was time to start practicing and reclaim my sense of wonder. Read on to find out what I did to find (and practice) it.
By pursuing and practicing your passions even on the smallest scale, you allow yourself to go deeper into something new.
I asked myself questions
If you’re not sure what you are passionate about, asking questions can help you identify. Ask yourself questions like: When do I forget to look at my phone? What were things I loved to do as a kid? What feels like active meditation? What lights me up? What would I do if money didn’t matter? Checking in with yourself can also help you steer away from moving towards what you think you “should” be passionate about. For example, I don’t love politics, can’t get into fashion, and don’t have a strong love for design. Don’t get me wrong: I want to be informed, look good, and have a beautiful home, but those aren’t the hobbies that make me excited or feel like time passes quickly. Looking at my answers, many came from those childhood memories, so I thought about how they could fit into my adult life.
I took small actions based on these answers
Once I realized I had some ideas that would “light me up,” I started to take small steps to do more of them. For example, I started cooking more meals at home, read food blogs, and went out to new restaurants (I always did love baking treats for my neighbors as a kid!). Beyond just hobbies, I got coffee with a woman who owned a cafe to learn what she does and what her career looks like. Looking into my other answers, I made some plans and took more actions as well, including planning my first European vacation since high school, working out more, volunteering, and going to museums (even if I was alone).
I let the passions evolve
Life is always evolving, and so are our interests. While we can find a lot of parallels between what we were interested in as children and what we’re passionate now, that doesn’t mean that our passions won’t change. We might love things at certain times of our lives that we get tired of or don’t like as much years later. I don’t like baking treats for my entire NYC apartment building (for obvious reasons), and that’s OK: I’ve found new ways to pursue the same passion. If you look at the actual things you love to do as a guide to finding your passion “themes,” you’ll notice they can evolve into some pretty awesome moments, opportunities, or even a career you didn’t know existed.
I set a goal for at least one “passionate” activity a day
Even in our adult lives where bills have to be paid and chores have to get done, you can (and should) still wake up feeling excited to get out of bed because you’re doing at least one thing every day that you look forward to. It can just be one thing (no matter how small) that makes you forget Instagram exists, or that fills you up so much you’re energized all day long. Taking action to discover, practice, and evolve your passions isn’t easy. It takes time, energy, and openness to new things, as well as a whole lotta love for yourself. It often required me to get really vulnerable and do things alone (P.S. now, I actually love doing things by myself). The most reassuring thing that I’ve discovered through prioritizing my passion is that the more I put it out there, the more amazing things, opportunity, and people come back to me.