It is a right of passage that each child must face. Answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is insane to think a child, teenager, or twenty-something would possess the knowledge required to answer this question correctly. Without the proper experience and knowledge any answer to this question is a sure-fire, dead-in-the-water wrong answer. My father still tells me he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up. I really like hearing this. It reminds me that life is a journey and we can change directions as often as we please.
There are some steps to take if you would like make sure you move in the right direction. Maybe it’s too much to presume these will lead you down a path to success. It is better to understand that these steps will increase your chance of success by understanding mistakes and learning from bad decisions. In the end, the more experiences you have, the better you will understand what you enjoy. Once you discover what makes you happy, you will be on your way to a more satisfying life. This is what you need to do.
Expose yourself to everything. Do not ignore or resist an opportunity to do something new. With each new experience you have a chance to discover your passion in life. I don’t mean you should literally do everything you possibly can. There is not enough time for that. Keep an open mind and don’t be too quick to say ‘No’ to a new idea.Keep a ‘Do Not Pursue’ list. This list should have everything you have tried and know you do not want to do again. This could be anything from digging holes to cold-calling to folding shirts. (These are all on my list.) Do not pursue a career or job that requires you to repeat an item on your list. Once you know you don’t enjoy something, why would you take a job that requires you to do it over and over again?
Think about what motivates you. What gets you excited? What makes you forget about your worries or stress? When something lights a fire inside you and ignites your passion it is special. You should spend time thinking about how to integrate that activity into your career.
Play, relax, unwind, and most importantly, don’t think about it all the time. You can drive yourself crazy if you try to answer this question as though it can be solved with calculation. This process might take most of your life. Don’t let that discourage you. If you follow these steps you will have more experiences than you can imagine right now.
Read a lot of books. You can open yourself up to opportunities left and right, but sometimes fate doesn’t come knocking at the door. A good book can keep your mind occupied during these dry spells. Books offer exposure to information and ideas that might not otherwise be available. You can get a copy of Steve Jobs’ biography for about $10, but you’ll never get to interview him. And getting a job with Apple can also prove extremely difficult. Books can put you in a world that might seem out of reach.
My hope is that these steps will help you on your journey to discover your passion. Stop worrying about the right answer and start moving in the right direction. Do not worry about what you cannot control. You will achieve much better results if you create change where you have the power to do so. The most important lessons are keep moving, do not settle, and keep learning. If you do, you’re guaranteed to be happier than you would be in your cubicle with your head down for the rest of your working days.