Author Warren Berger recently wrote a piece for Fast Company in which he offers 8 questions to help you find your passion. Whether you are just starting your career or you are considering leaving your current path, let us know how these questions have help you determine your passion.
What is your tennis ball? This question, derived from a terrific commencement speech given at MIT last year by Dropbox founder Drew Houston, is a good place to start because it cuts to the chase. As Houston explained, “The most successful people are obsessed with solving an important problem, something that matters to them. They remind me of a dog chasing a tennis ball.” To increase your chances of happiness and success, Houston said, you must “find your tennis ball–the thing that pulls you.”
Sometimes, we may not be aware of what truly engages us so it becomes necessary to become a detective when it comes to our own behavior.
What am I doing when I feel most beautiful? This is about identifying not only what draws you in, but also what makes you shine. It’s important to think about “that time and place where you feel most alive–whether it’s when you’re solving a problem, creating, connecting with someone, traveling.”
What is something you believe that almost nobody agrees with you on? This question, which PayPal co-founder and Thiel Foundation chief Peter Thiel has shared publicly in interviews and lectures, is designed to do two things: help you figure out what you care about and also determine whether it’s worth pursuing, based on uniqueness. Thiel concedes that it’s a challenging question because it can be tough to find an idea or belief that isn’t shared by many others. “Originality is deceptively hard,” he told Pandodaily. But if you can find a problem or challenge no one else is tackling, you can carve your own niche and create value.“
What are your superpowers? If we can identify our inherent character strengths and build on them, we can lead happier, more successful lives. Having trouble listing your powers and strengths? Check out Gallup executive Tom Rath’s popular “StrengthsFinder 2.0” program, with its menu of 34 traits. Once you’ve identified your own strengths, you’ll be in a better position to make the most of what you already have going for you.
And of course, sometimes the answers to the future, lie in the past:
So what did you enjoy doing at age 10? Eric Maisel, a psychotherapist and author, agrees, adding: “The things we loved as a child are probably still the things we love.” He suggests drawing up a list of favorite activities and interests from childhood–“and see what still resonates with you today. And then it’s a process of updating those loves. You may have loved something that doesn’t even exist now, or doesn’t make sense in your life now–but you may be able to find a new version of that.”
What are you willing to try now? One of the best ways to find your purpose and passion is through experimentation. Look for temporary assignments, outside contracts, advisory work, and moonlighting to get experience or build skills in new industries; executive programs, sabbaticals, and extended vacations also can be valuable in providing opportunities to experiment.
Looking back on your career, 20 or 30 years from now, what do you want to say you’ve accomplished? Think of this exercise as a less-gloomy version of write-your-own-obit. What would you include on your list of hoped-for achievements? Or, even better than compiling a laundry list, why not figure out…
What is your sentence? is a question designed to help you distill purpose and passion to its essence by formulating a single sentence that sums up who you are and what, above all, you aim to achieve. Your sentence might be, “He raised four kids who became happy, healthy adults,” or “She invented a device that made people’s lives easier.” If your sentence is a goal not yet achieved, then you also must ask: How might I begin to live up to my own sentence?
We’re curious to hear what your answers to these questions are. Have they led you to discover your passion?