“I don’t know what my passion is.”
“I can’t figure out what I want and what I’d like to do.”
“Everyone’s talking about finding their passion. I’ve tried but I just can’t seem to find mine.”
If any of these quotes sound like something you’ve said or thought lately, you’re not alone. Before you beat yourself up with the thought that you haven’t been looking hard enough, bear in mind another strategy. Instead, ask: What do I hate?
For those who consider “hate” too strong of a word: What do I really dislike?
While the holidays might not seem to be the appropriate time to dwell on the negative emotions, don’t fret. Know this: the activities that you can’t stand doing can be great clues into what you might actually love. If you haven’t been graced with an “A-Ha!” moment leading to your life’s purpose, rest assured, you can still lead a happy, fulfilling life. As Kristin Wong shares on LifeHacker, you can even find a job you enjoy. At the very least, assessing your dislikes can keep you more mindful in your efforts to steer clear of them.
Think about and answer these questions:
What type of activities do I always put off doing (in personal and work life)?
Typically, the things you put off are the things you enjoy the least, are the most time consuming, or are the most draining on your energy. It makes sense to pursue the opportunities that have the least amount of those!
Why do I put them off?
Making a list of the things you put off isn’t quite enough; the next step is to reflect on why you may be doing so. Try to identify why that particular activity drains your energy. Figure out if the reason you put it off is due to a situational or environmental factor that you can change. For example, maybe it’s the time of day that you scheduled it, or it involves interaction with a person you find abrasive. Before you dismiss the activity completely, see if it can be tweaked and made more bearable. If not, add it to your “dislike” list.
What themes do you see in the activities you don’t like?
For example, if your “dislike list” states:
- Making calls to clients
- Greeting donors at fundraisers
- Negotiating rates
You can probably decipher common characteristics such as interpersonal relationships, communication skills, and follow-up. What does that tell you about the types of jobs you may want to stay away from? What is it about those activities that don’t work for you? Just as importantly, ask yourself if it is feasible for your to stay away from those activities, or if you will encounter them at virtually any job.
In your previous jobs, what felt “missing”?
Think about the responsibilities you expected to have at your prior jobs but didn’t actually engage in. What aspects of your jobs did you want to do but didn’t get the opportunity to take on?
After sitting with your dislikes for a while, there is the chance that some clarity around one or two of your passions will emerge. If so, great. If not, know that you are a little closer to finding something you’ll enjoy rather than feel stuck in a career that is barely tolerable.