As children, we are gifted with a natural curiosity that encourages exploration and fuels our dreams. This exploration helped us find new passions every day. Somewhere along the way, after years of formalized schooling, we trade childlike curiosity for practicality and repetition. Decades of being told what to learn and how to learn, combined with the added pressure in adulthood to pick a “practical” job, isn’t exactly a winning formula for passion.

Millions of people every day open up web browsers and search for “how to be happy.” There’s greater emphasis than ever before to “find your passion” and “follow your dreams.” Here’s the truth that few people today want to believe: you don’t have to quit your day job and go on a months-long trek across Iceland to find a passion or a purpose. All you have to do is want to find it.

5 Steps to Find Your Passion and Purpose

How to Find Your Life’s Passion and Purpose

1. What are you good at?

What do you get kudos for at work? What skills do you think are undervalued? Do people tell you that you should be a [ painter, programmer, writer, teacher ] all the time? Write down skills you have that include things like leadership abilities, creative thinking on the fly, or maybe completing tedious tasks quickly and with enthusiasm. Your skills don’t have to read like James Bond’s resume. Be honest, not interesting! Take inventory of your skills and run them through a job search site and see what comes up. You might discover professions you’ve never heard of that you would be perfect for.

2. Reconnect with your inner child and explore.

Do you remember what interested you as a child, when you didn’t care about judgement from others? Let your curiosity guide you and start discovering. Facebook will connect you with local events that span a number of interests. If you’re shy about getting out by yourself, sites like Meetup.com connect you with like-minded people who want to join book clubs, write a screenplay, learn a language, go to concerts, take dance classes — anything you can think of! Keep trying new things. You never know when one will develop into a lifelong passion or even a new career.

3. Notice when you lose track of time.

It’s true: time flies when you’re having fun! Take note of what you’re doing when you lose track of time. Is it when you’re drawing or painting? Writing? Helping a friend through a crisis? Is there one small aspect of your job that you love, like talking with customers or helping your manager with the quarterly budget? Keep a journal and take note of the activities and moments — big or small — that you lose yourself in. It won’t be long before you’ll start to see patterns and will find more direction in your search for purpose.

Discover new passions with childlike curiosity.

What did you love to do as a child, when you didn’t fear judgement? Let your curiosity guide you and start discovering new passions.

4. Check your envy.

A great way to discover what you should be doing is to check your envy. Are there things that others do that just drive you nuts? #girlswhotravel got you peeved? Did your buddy start a band for fun and now they’re playing weekly at a cool venue? Did your friend tell you they’re writing a novel and you can’t help but feel annoyed? If your inner voice is saying: Hey, I WOULD travel too but I’m responsible and dedicated to my job! Hey! I’M the talented guitarist, not you! Hey! I’M the writer. Where did he find time to write a novel? Check. Yourself. What are you jealous of? Could it be that these are things that you secretly want to do, but won’t admit to yourself because you’re scared? If so, just get out there and do it already!

5. What are you willing to sacrifice?

Passions take sacrifice. If you’re not willing to give something up in order to pursue it, then it’s not a true passion. Even passions that are hobbies take time and that time needs to come from somewhere. You can “find time” by giving up things like television, sleeping in, or going out every weekend. Sometimes passions require us to sacrifice time with our friends and our families. Balance is key. If your passion makes you truly happy, it’s worth working hard to balance it with your other responsibilities.

Finding passion and purpose takes dedication and an open mind. Mindfulness meditation teaches us to observe our thoughts without judgement. Learn how to incorporate mindfulness meditation into your search for balance by visiting avsmindfulness.com. Check back to learn about the upcoming release of our mindfulness meditation app.

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