Looking for a career change? Start by figuring out what you're most passionate about

By Marcus Buckingham, author of Find Your Strongest Life

3 steps to finding your passion

How do I find my passion?

Start by giving yourself a break: no one finds her true passion. She starts with an inkling, a sense of something. And she builds her passion by working hard, paying attention to how the different parts of the role make her feel, and by then taking the initiative to push her role gradually toward those activities that strengthen her.

1. Look back

To find your inkling, start by looking backward. Think back to your teenage years and try to remember if there were any subjects that grabbed your attention. Ask your parents what you were like as a kid. Was there anything that you got intensely interested in, read up on, and talked about incessantly at the dinner table? Don’t try to have this conversation on the fly with your parents; you won’t get enough detail. Instead, set aside a good 30 minutes and walk them back through time, back to when the demands and expectations of the world had yet to blanket your sense of who you really were.

2. Pay attention to a regular week of life

If you get nothing from the past, then take your memo pad around with you for a week or two and keep track of which articles you read, which stories you are intrigued by in which magazines, which moments you found yourself looking forward to, which moments flew by, which moments made you feel like, “When can I do that again?”

3. Be precise

No clear number one interest? Then pick one of your top three areas of interest, and start there. Do your research, narrow your focus to a role or job title, and then, as Anna did, seek out the first rung on the ladder. Then work really hard. Put in the hours gave, see which parts of the job excite you, if any, and deliberately push your role toward these specific parts. Always keep your attention trained on the specifics of which actual activities give you the biggest kick. These precise activities are your raw material for building your passion. Passion is useless without precision.

Always remember, passion can’t be found way up in the sky, in far-flung dreams and hopes. Passion lives at ground level, in the day-to-day tasks you are being paid to do today, tomorrow, and the day after.

One last possibility you might consider is that you don’t have one clear passion. You may be the kind who’s intrigued by many different subjects, and who pursues each of them with equal passion. If so, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead claim it, own it, and then figure out how to channel it productively. How can it make
you more valuable at work? How can you use your insatiable curiosity to serve your family? What community work can you volunteer for? Make it useful.

If you don’t, you may turn into a dilettante, someone who flits from one subject to another, an amateur at each, contributing nothing.

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Excerpted from Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham, courtesy Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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