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Try This If You’re Struggling to Find Your Passion

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“Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” ~Howard Thurman

For the past three years, I’ve been in the throes of a quarter life crisis.

Just a few months into my first cubicle-bound job, I had the life-altering realization that most everyone comes to eventually: I’m going to work a job every day for the next forty+ of my life. If I want to make that enjoyable, I need to be living my purpose and engaging my passions.

Knowing that life is short and the best time to change is now, I dove headfirst into reading and implementing advice on how I could discover and live my passion. 

In the three-year search, I registered for hobbies that interested me. I researched and pursued various careers. I talked to my friends about what I was good at. I encouraged my husband to find his passions so that we were both supported in this dream. I waited patiently and openly for inspiration.

Soon enough, some of my passions bubbled up to the surface in easily identifiable ways.

I loved writing, interacting with people one on one, business, yoga, rescue animals, chocolate, coffee houses, and digital newspapers.

To see what ideas “stuck,” I started businesses, changed careers, wrote freelance, initiated a local yoga community, volunteered, and truly “discovered” myself.

But these attempts at finding a passion that could become my career always happened the same way—I’d start out with massive bursts of energy, produce great results, and then hear the small voice in my heart whisper, “This isn’t it…there’s something else out there for you.”

After a couple of years of trying and failing at finding the passion that would stick, I decided to just stop looking for a while.

In the meantime, I would work hard at my job and come to terms with the fact that the most people never have careers that engage their passions—and maybe that’s okay. After all, I could still have passions outside my work.

But the drive to create a career around my passion never went away.

My turning point came one night as I was sitting at home with my husband watching The Legend of Baggar Vance—a movie about a down-on-his-luck golfer who enlists the help of an inspirational golf caddy (Baggar Vance) to perfect his game.

In one of the scenes, Baggar says to the golfer:

“Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing. Something we were born with. Something that’s ours and ours alone. Something that can’t be taught to you or learned. Something that got to be remembered.”

And I sat stunned for a second. Although the movie went on, my mind was stuck on this idea: your passion—your one true authentic gift—has to be remembered.

For so long, I had been searching, trying new things, exploring jobs, careers, and “attractive” passions outside of myself—without ever trying to remember what passions have been with me all along.

In an instant of clarity, I remembered that for my whole life, I have been in love with business and personal finance. My father and grandmother had always been very determined to teach me about the flow of money and how starting a business could ensure my freedom.

From these constant little lessons growing up, I picked up an interest in business that had permeated my life in ways that I just didn’t really recognize.

I remembered back to the time I was nine years old and told my grandma I’d love to be a financial planner to help people with their business and money, the way she’d helped me develop those skills.

I remembered too how I sat enthralled reading business magazines on airplanes. I remembered how what I really wanted out of my career was to run my own business one day. I realized that this was a deep, steady current that connected many phases of my life.

But how could my passion be so…plain? Aren’t passions supposed to be artistic, exotic, or inspirational? Aren’t passions supposed to wow people?

Perhaps not. Perhaps my passion for the mundane things could be a way to bring life to an otherwise mundane topic—the way your crazy history teacher started talking really fast and excitedly about the Civil Rights movement, making you excited about it too.

Since this realization, I’ve started pursuing a business in financial coaching, and I am so happy. The small voice in my heart is whispering, “You’re on the right track!” for the first time. I haven’t been distracted by what other things I could be doing. Even better, I am engaging my other passions too.

So if you’re struggling to find your passion, even after trying what feels like doing everything, I encourage you to do this: sit down, open your journal, pour a cup of tea, and try to remember your passions.

Think back on your life, and remember things you wanted to be, the habits you developed naturally, the games you played, the books you read, and see how they may apply to your life and career today. You might be surprised by the connection points that have been right under your nose all along.

Photo by gezelle rivera

About Leah Manderson

Leah Manderson is a personal finance coach who has been featured in Forbes, LearnVest, and The Daily Muse. In her blog and newsletter, she publishes weekly tips and tricks that help people afford the life of their dreams. Join her free 7-day Money Made Easy mini-program to learn 10 money mindsets that pay you for life, and how to create ease and clarity around your monthly money to-do’s.

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