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Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Oct 11, 2015

How to find your passion - practical advice

"Follow your passion", "Be passionate about something", "If you follow your passion, you will be definitely successful in life"; that's the most common advice we all keep getting from our parents, teachers, mentors and even gurus. No doubt, the advice is correct and time tested. But the only trouble with it is that no one really tells us how to find our real passion in life. No one tells us what are the methods or ways to find out what we are truly passionate about. This article is an attempt at exploring this topic and finding out practical ways to find what we are truly passionate about. You are free to skip to the section that you think is the most relevant to you.

Finding your passion can be hard. But that's okay!

Finding one's passion is hard and something that many few people acknowledge. There are people who are are lucky that they don't have to take efforts to find out their real interests but the rest of us have to follow a few ways to discover. As I said, it's not very easy and may take months of continuous, proactive efforts to find out what are we really passionate about. The natural question one may ask - is it really worth the efforts? What if I'm happy the way I am? Do I really need to have passion? Can I be successful in life without being passionate about something?

I think those are the real questions that need to be answered before we set out on our quest to discover our passion.

Do I really need to find my passion?

Short answer: No. It's not mandatory. In fact, you can be pretty much successful without ever discovering your passion. You can have a happy life without ever knowing what you are truly interested in.

But...

Life is not just about achieving things. Life's about having an experience; and we'd rather make it a good one. Knowing your passion makes your journey towards the success you aim to have a pleasing and untiring one. The beauty of it is that even if you don't achieve the exact goal that you set out to achieve; while doing things you truly love, you will be happy all the time. When you are truly enjoying the stuff that you are doing, you'll be above the success and failure. You will just be successful at every step!

...and you have already experienced this. I truly believe that every human has a passion hidden inside; waiting to be discovered. It makes us lose the track of time when we are doing something we are truly in love with. The only closest example I can give you is to ask you to think of a time when you got totally lost in something that you were doing - be it drawing something, music, or reading a book etc. The time just went by and you were deeply enjoying the activity. That's exactly how it feels when you are doing something you are passionate about.

Got it! Tell me how do I go about finding my passion?

There can be several ways; but I'm only going to discuss a very straightforward and easy to follow approach; and it starts with a dream! Yes, you read it right. All I'm going to ask you to tell me (yourself) what do you dream about. But it's not a dream that you experienced when you were fast asleep. I'm talking about the dream that you see with your eyes wide open.

...and when we talk about dream; we'll go back to your childhood - the stage in your life where you *lost* all your dreams. That's true! When you were a child, you didn't know what was possible and what was not. In our journey towards discovering passion, we need that state back - the state of your childhood when you dreamed without getting 'practical' about it.

You let your dreams die a slow death because of the practicality. Discovering your passion essentially needs that you stop being practical. This does NOT mean I'm going to ask you to quit your job or do something that's not practical. I only want you to be in a mental state where everything is possible.

Another important aspect of your being human that you let die is 'curiosity'. Most of us stopped being curious about stuff around us. Your ability to dream has been largely restricted because of your limited curiosity. It's all related you see. You've got to be curious about things around you and your own self to make some real progress on the new path you've chosen.

It's Essential To Have A Dream 'Big Enough'

Now that we're talking about dreams, you better be dreaming very big. What if you don't have 'big dreams'? Well, here's the thing: You DO have big dreams, but you've decided to hide them under the veil of being practical. Then that veil was further thickened by years of brainwashing through what we call 'education'. There is one 'condition' though: Your dream should be such that it should excite you to your fullest. It should put a smile on your face. It should be exciting enough that you are willing to take a bit of suffering for it! Keep that in mind!

So, as we agreed upon - you have to stop being practical when dreaming. You have to think that everything is possible; no matter how stupid, big, impossible it may look. It's essential that you start convincing yourself that whatever weird dream.

Note: If you began reading this at the top and made it till this line; I guarantee that you are 'almost there'. 99% of the people who began reading would have given up in the first few paragraphs because there wasn't any clear advice. That's a little mind-trick I'm playing with you. Congratulations!

So why did I ask you to dream? Because dreams are typically independent of everything; and are always inspired by your hidden passions! I will give you my own example later on.

Important: Your dream may have nothing to do with your professional career. It could be anything. For example, if traveling around the world is your big dream; you need not be in the travel industry. You could be a software engineer but with a well set plan to travel. But remember, the dream has to be big and exciting enough to make you sleepless! You should be willing to give up on your weekly restaurant visits to save up money to fund your travel. Are you getting the point?

Your General Interests Aren't Your Passion. How to distinguish between interest and passion?

One of the most common argument you'll typically make is this: I like to do so many things. How do I know what am I passionate about? The things people like to do are as diverse as: Sleeping, listening to music, eating at restaurants, reading and so on.

What you 'like' to do may not be your passion. If you were paying attention, I bolded the text: Are you willing to take a bit of suffering for any of your specific interest? For example, are you willing to suffer a bit in order to be able to listen to music? NO, right? Willing to sacrifice something so that you can always eat at restaurants around the city? NO! If you are willing to suffer, take some pain to be able to paint every day? Yes? Okay, you may consider painting as your passion.

Once you find something that you are willing to suffer for; and it looks in sync with your dream - you've found your passion. I think that's the magic formula I was trying to bring you to. How do you know you've found what you are looking for? Maybe if the natural answer to the following questions is 'yes':
  • Is it that you can talk or read about, without being tired?
  • Are you willing to spend time, money so that you can do it?
  • Does it make you feel happy and lose the sense of time?
  • Something you think you'll be proud to tell others about?
  • Most importantly: Does doing it give you a sense of fulfillment?
  • Is it something you are willing to do for free; and you'd be totally blown away if someone paid you to do that?
  • Is it something you can do even if no one really appreciates it, or even if someone laughs at you or calls you mad? In short - can you do it ignoring the whole world?
  • Is it something that you will do despite of failures?
But Nothing Really Comes To My Mind That I Can Say I'm Passionate About

It's okay. The process is hard and may take months. You need a positive outlook to really discover your passion. While it's totally worth investing all the efforts; you are totally OK without ever discovering your passion. If you love 'trying' everything - then keep doing it. It will give you happiness. But if you keep the advice in this article in your mind, you may just discover that one thing you truly should consider seriously. It may take days, weeks or even months before you stumble upon something that strikes the right chord.

Know Well: You can create your own passion!

Let's just say that nothing mentioned above works for you. What does that leave you with? Well, the good news is that you can create your own passion. As amusing it may sound, it's actually true. And the first step towards creating your passion starts with your existing skills. You need to put your skills into 'creation' of something new! Remember 'curiosity' - that thing is going to be immensely helpful when you start discovering something new that you can 'create'.

Is there something that you had always wanted to try, but didn't? That could be a great start. It could be as simple as going on a trek, or driving a 4x4 SUV off-road, or just gathering information about cars or anything that really makes you feel awesome, just by thinking about it.

You can even combine two of the things you like to create a new passion. For example, if you love going on trek and also love writing - you might just as well start an online blog to write about trekking. You can share your experiences, journeys, preparation tips, review gear and so on. That could just be your new found passion!

Passion and Career

Usually, people who make a career in the field they are passionate about; end up being successful. I do not have statistical data to back up this claim; but you'll always find successful people say that they absolutely enjoy doing what they are doing. That's the reason they keep doing stuff when things were not moving; or going downhill. I've known people who absolutely love writing computer programs and are always reading and learning new things. Learning a new programming language is a cakewalk for them because they put in their 100%, naturally into learning. The challenges become their friends and they just keep getting better and better at coding.I need not tell you that such people will usually make a good career and also earn more; because of their unmatched skills-set.

I'll Give You My Own Example -

The only reason I wish to give you my own example is because I think I'm on the right path. I am confident that I know what I really love doing; and I got fortunate enough (through hard work) to be able to do what I really care about or passionate about. I do not care whether I end up being successful from other people's perspective. For me, being able to do what I love doing is success in itself. So here's my story.

I've always wanted to make the things happen the way I want. Ever since I was a kid, I was interested in all things electricity and therefore I chose to pick up electrical engineering as my discipline for graduation. During my engineering days, I developed interest in playing Guitar and I really enjoyed playing the instrument. While I could have called playing guitar as my passion; I knew that at the back of my mind that it's not something I'd make a career in. Guitaring is my hobby; a very serious one, but not my passion. It's not something I was willing to suffer for!

I remember that in second year of engineering, I began reading and the world of 'business' looked extremely attractive to me. Why? Because I had this 'observation' that the businessmen can control lot of things and make new things happen. Just exactly what I loved doing. I convinced myself that starting and managing my own business is the way to live life of my dreams. Because I will be under control, do the things I want and make the things happen the way I want them. The thought of following someone else's instructions and doing things as per 'their' wish didn't go well with me. Most importantly, I was willing to suffer and sacrifice for it!

So by the time I graduated, I totally knew that I'd ultimately get into starting my own business. My passion was 'creating something' awesome, big enough that it could 'wow' people. Starting my own business would be a way to do it - which I felt was pretty much in sync with my skills and general attitude.

But wanting to start a business is one thing; and actually starting one is another. I was totally clueless about what business to start, how to start, where to start and even had no clue how business works. I therefore decided to get into a reputed MBA college so that I could meet people who talk business and get ideas.

By the time, I had joined a job. But I was so obsessed with the idea that I needed to start a business that I began preparing for MBA in my part time. I worked really hard; but my limited aptitude and logical skills didn't allow me to crack the CAT (the MBA admission test in India). My first attempt was a total waste. I felt bad and depressed. But I was committed to entering into MBA college because that would give me access to the things I wanted. I began preparing for the next year's exam.

Did you notice? : I was willingly suffering to make things happen. I already had a GREAT job that paid well. I could have taken a home loan and pay the banks the rest of my life. But that wasn't my end goal. I wanted to start a business and was willing to suffer.

Another year of preparation and I wasn't making any progress. My ranks and score in mock tests was at best 'pathetic'. I had no clue what to do because I was already on the path that I knew would take me to my dream. Things were not working.

When you are so mad about making things happen, things start falling in place and you can connect them only when you look back. I met people on discussion forums and talking to them made me realise one big thing: I need NOT get an MBA to start a business!

That was a big shocker. If not MBA, how would I start a business? How'd I know what I needed to do? Where would I get my ideas?

But I only needed to look within -

But at the same time - I was also driven by people who were making big, great things that would 'WOW' others. I was a big fan of two shows on Discovery Channel - Mega Structures and Extreme Engineering. I regularly watched those shows and wondered these guys are doing what I wish to do in life. Why can't I directly talk to them?

We had internal newsgroups in the organisation I was working for and I was pretty active there. My posts were appreciated and I'd regularly get emails from other employees in different offices of the company asking about when is my next post coming. I knew that people loved reading stuff I wrote.

I decided to mix these two things: create a place where I could interact with engineers working on big projects. It didn't even look closer to what I was trying to do. But at least being able to talk to people who were doing what I wished to do; looked like a FANTASTIC idea. The result was CrazyEngineers. A hobby portal I had created in my part time.

This was just the time I had my next CAT attempt. I had already lost my entire interest in CAT or MBA; because I had already found what I loved doing. Mind well, CrazyEngineers wasn't meant to be a business at first. It was something that was meant to give me ideas for business.

It turned out that CrazyEngineers itself grew to a level that I decided to take it up as a business. I quit my job when the revenues were zero. There was no business plan. There was no clear strategy to grow. The only thing: It was (and is) so exciting that I was willing to suffer for it.

Later on, Ankita (my sister) joined in and she took it to a next level that we actually began generating revenues and run it as a 'proper business'. I must mention that while it's a business - we are committed to making it big in a way that would 'WOW' people. Now that we're doing this for a pretty long time and are ready to 'suffer' - growing CrazyEngineers into a big business that would 'WOW' people has became our passion. We still get up every morning thinking about the big and wonderful things we can make happen through CrazyEngineers. We dream of creating world's most awesome company for engineers; and that keeps sailing us through bad as well as good times.

The fulfilment and joy of taking CrazyEngineers cannot be described in words! It's above the success and failures that we encounter and we hope we'll be able to make every fellow engineer a partner in our dreams.

Final Thoughts On 'Passion':

The topic of discovering your passion is complicated. However, it matters and it can make a huge difference in your personal and professional life. As I said, you can be just okay without ever knowing what you are passionate about. You've to look within to discover it. Keep doing all the things you love and always keep the points mentioned in this article in your mind. The realisation may not be 'quick'. It may take months or years; like in my own case. Keep in mind that 'loving to listening to music' does not mean you become a singer or a musician. It could be something in the art or creative field where your passions lie.

You will have to keep your eyes, ears and mind open to figure it out.

PS: I wrote this entire article in one go and did not check for grammatical mistakes. Please ignore them and do let me know your thoughts. Don't troll!
Kaustubh Katdare
You've to look within to discover it.
As the TV anchors say, absolutely.
I was one of the lucky few to whom it happened naturally without any effort. So much so that I never thought about it.
The catch is that it is not at all easy to look within. Can be scary too.
It is unfortunate that a barrier (thick enough) develops to separate the harsh reality and our weird passion with the course of time. But, a time will come when we feel tired of fooling ourselves. And then it is all about whether we decide to crack through the barrier or choose to accept a situation so called reality(which I would like to categorize as an illusion).
I loved the dreaming part, and from where i was , and to where i am its just absolute dreaming which got me here. I am not great or super awesome now. But I am still dreaming big and doing things which match to my dream.

And coming to passion part, I think i am slowly learning it. I had many discoveries and worked on many but nothing went further because i gave up as its not my end goal.

I am still yet to get complete clarity but yes, i have considerably improved.. Before joining CE and talking to people I know passion is a bike name 😛

Now i came a long way through!
So DREAM BIGGGGG.. Yeah very big.
Quote: Today I received approximately the 11,504th email this year from a person telling me that they don’t know what to do with their life. And like all of the others, this person asked me if I had any ideas of what they could do, where they could start, where to “find their passion.”

And of course, I didn’t respond. Why? Because I have no f**king clue. If you don’t have any idea what to do with yourself, what makes you think some jackass with a website would? I’m a writer, not a fortune teller. Endquote

For too many WTF. Yet makes a point. I do find that a lot of young people ask here How to find a meaning to life, how to discover their passion and such. This article gives a point of view.
Screw Finding Your Passion
davefranco
davefranco • Oct 31, 2015
Do what you love or love what you do.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Nov 18, 2015
davefranco
love what you do.
I think that's important for most of the people who feel they are 'stuck' into things. It's absolutely possible to start loving your job - by focusing on the positives than the negatives.

In the past one year, I've gone from total apathy toward software programming (yeah, that's true) to actually appreciating and loving programming. I sincerely believe that if I can start enjoying coding; anyone in the world can definitely start loving any job they must do. It's possible. One just need to be crazy to engineer his/her own life.

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