The Folks over at RoadTrip Nation always get me to thinking. They are primarily focused on helping young people discover their passions in life and then encouraging them to pursue an education to make that passion a paying job. I wished they had been around when I was searching for my passion. It was almost 20 years into my career before I discovered “what I was interested in”. One of the items on list in the quote below is how I discovered my passion..
The problem is that people tend to think that the answer to, “What are you interested in?” should have a neat little one-word answer, like “football,” or “coding.” Obviously, those are both stellar interests, but oftentimes, it’s much more complicated than that. Interests can also be encompassed by thoughts like, “I love helping people,” or “I really enjoy telling a good story.” And an interest can be as generic as, “nature,” or as specific as, “tornadoes.” Yeah…bet you never thought “tornadoes” were an interest, did you? Well, they are; just ask meteorology professor, Mike Biggerstaff! Basically, never think that just because you don’t collect anything, play an instrument, or have a traditional “hobby,” you don’t have interests.
- Ask your friends for help — As weird as it seems, sometimes we get too deep into our own heads to properly evaluate what we like—brains be crazy. So step outside of yourself for a minute and ask your friends for help….
- Stalk your own browser history — Have you ever fallen down one of those Wikipedia rabbit holes where you look at the clock and realize you haven’t eaten or drank or moved for over two hours because you were so wrapped up in reading about Rasputin?…
- Get emotional — It’s important to remember that while your interests often arise from feelings of joy, they can also reveal themselves at times when you are especially angry or sad….
- Keep a journal — This method is more of a slow-simmer kind of deal, but it’ll probably give you the best results….
I find it interesting that they use today’s tools for their list. I would never have thought of searching my browser history for a clue. I know my friends told me I was smart and needed to go to college but I didn’t have a clue as to what to actually study once I got there. But even that simple “smart” observation put me on a college path. I was the first in my family to go to college and financially it was a big struggle but that encouragement helped it to happen.
I got my first personal computer in the mid 1970s. It was a TRS-80 which basically had less power than a $10 calculator today and cost about $600 (that’s about $3500 in today’s dollar). I don’t know why but I had to have one. I spent a crazy amount of hours learning to program in. In fact one weekend I got off work and coded from Friday night to Sunday morning without stopping to sleep or eat much of anything! It became glaringly clear that I had finally “found what I was interested in”.
Everyone but especially young people need to do whatever is necessary to find their passions in life. Don’t settle for simply what is in front of you. If you find your passion you will go through the 30 or so job years enjoying what you do instead of just counting the days until you can do something else. Take it from someone who spent too much time on the counting path…