“I feel like I can’t do anything until I know ‘what I want to do,’ but I don’t know what that is. I am so frustrated with myself!”
Does this sound familiar to you? In my conversations with friends in their 20s and 30s, the challenge of finding their passion comes up as a recurring theme. Many of them have impressive education backgrounds and professional experiences. However, they feel a deep sense of dissatisfaction at their jobs. Some choose to quit their jobs in order to find their passion but often struggle to make ends meet; some give up the idea but feel miserable about what they do. It is important to do what you love. However, when finding your passion becomes the single focus and criterion of happiness in life, you lose sight of what’s most important.
Finding one’s passion requires patience, dedication and hard work. When giving his commencement speech to the graduates of Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle.” He is a big proponent of going after what you love and not settle until you find it. And his life is a great example of how to make it happen. He was fired from his own company–Apple, before he returned again and made it a legend. Had he given up then and concluded that what he was working on was not worthwhile, we will not have the Apple today. Finding your passion is a process–you embark on a journey without a clear destination–along the way, your interactions with people and life events shape you and reveal who you are. It is those that are willing to labor, learn and listen that prevail.
You may be searching for a long time the perfect job that makes your life meaningful. You even think to yourself (subconsciously), “Once I find it, my life will be fulfilled.” That is a myth! Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef and owner of the popular East Village restaurant Prune, and author of Blood, Bones, & Butter said, “I never wanted to be a chef. I adore my work, but that is a new feeling. I wanted to be a writer. But it never was clear to me how to be a writer, and stay alive, and pay your rent and eat food. So I always understood the imperative of having a job. I am not convinced that it’s important to make a living at the thing you aspire to.” Gabrielle did not obsess over finding her passion; she was not looking for the right job to fulfill her passion when she started as a dishwasher in a restaurant. She also did not allow her job to define who she was. She had a realistic expectation and worked her way through life’s many obstacles to get to where she is today. The perfect job does not fall from the sky and simply land on your lap. You have to make it happen.
It takes wisdom and experience to discern what you love; it takes courage and a bit of luck to do what you love; and it takes discipline and focus to sustain it. So, if you think you haven’t found your passion yet, don’t settle. Continue your quest for life’s meaning and purpose. At the same time, know that the process is as important, if not more, as the answer. Put in the hard work, pay attention, and trust that the dots will all connect down the road.
–Chloe Tseung is a MBTI and NLP certified leadership and communications coach. She is also a Startingbloc fellow and a founding member of Made in Lower East Side (miLES). As a former change management consultant at KPMG, she advised Fortune 500 companies, government organizations and nonprofits. At Deutsche Bank, she coached and developed leaders in the Asia-Pacific and the American market. Chloe believes vulnerability, compassion and honesty are the core foundation of all human connections. Follow her on Twitter at @lifeispoetc or connect with her on LinkedIn.
[Image: Flickr user Mahender G]