For most of my adult life, I have been trying to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up”. I can remember back to my early 20’s, spending countless Sunday afternoons during my free time in the self-help section of Barnes & Noble, looking through book after book on how to find your passion and purpose in life.
Life purpose was something I struggled with at the time. Having fallen into a lucrative career that was personally unfulfilling, I yearned for something more meaningful, a true passion that would lead to a fulfilling life.
Most of the time, reading a book on how to find your passion and purpose only made me feel worse. I was looking for an easy answer, a quick fix, a self-help guide. And yes, I found many a great book of this sort, but these books all seemed to leave me feeling even more confused, like maybe I had no personal passion at all.
I didn’t realize at the time that the answer to what felt like my life’s biggest mystery couldn’t be found in any of the best books on how to find your passion. It could only be found in how I was living my life and I had been missing a key ingredient.
Only later in my personal development, would I find that adopting a different perspective would be integral in helping to push me in the right direction in my pursuit of passion and true purpose and would ultimately lead me to find a greater sense of inner peace and happiness.
The Best Way to Find Your Passion and Purpose
Defining what you’re truly passionate about is no easy feat. This is based on my own personal experience and seems to hold true for the majority of people.
If you’re one of the lucky ones who are able to figure it out, then living a life driven by those passions is even more challenging. Life’s circumstances and responsibilities often get in the way of achieving your big dreams or pursuing your passions through meaningful work.
I used to spend hours thinking about this, journaling my worries, reading practical guide books on how to find your passion, and looking for a simple system to give me the answers I so desperately wanted.
But I was missing the most important element-
I wasn’t living my life with curiosity.
Sure, I would try new things, but I didn’t have the right intentions behind why I was doing things. I had not developed or nurtured a sense of curiosity about the world around me and thus, I wasn’t open to the “what if’s ” in life.
My fixed mindset did not allow me to believe that new experiences could be opportunities for growth and learning and I failed to see the benefits of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and the possibility of new things.
It was like I was going through the motions, doing things so I could check them off the list, because I should do them.
“I should try this new gym class because it’s really popular” NOT “What if I try this new gym class and I love it?”.
“I should meet my friend at the film festival because I haven’t been out in weeks” NOT “I’m going to meet my friend at the film festival because what if the movie is really interesting and I learn something new?”
Rarely was I thinking “what if this new experience leads me to something great?”. What if it leads to my dream job or my life’s purpose?
I didn’t realize that following my curiosity could be the north star that would guide me to discovering my passions and purpose.
If you are trying to discover what you’re passionate about, simply being curious about things and being open to the “what if’s” in life is the most important thing you can do.
Why Curiosity is Key to Discovering Your Passions
Sometimes it may feel like too much pressure to “find your passion in life”. As mentioned above, a lot of people can’t seem to figure this part out. It’s much easier to feel what you’re curious about versus knowing your life’s great passions and purpose.
Having a sense of curiosity about life is the entry point to discovering your interests, what fascinates and excites you, and thus the things that may become your passions in the future.
When you’re passionate about something, it has great meaning to you and you find it so interesting that you want to know as much as you can about it. But this also works the other way around.
The more curiosity you have, the more likely you are to want to learn about something and consequently it becomes more interesting and meaningful to you over time.
So just try being curious, open yourself up to possibility, and follow the “what if’s”. Don’t worry about the outcome, just let it lead you where it will and you’ll see that you will learn new things about YOU.
You might find out that your passions have been there all along. And remember, it’s never too late to start creating the life you want.
5 Surprising Books on How to Find Your Passion in Life
I started this post by talking about how reading a book on how to find your passion never gave me the answers I was seeking. But this is because I first needed to change my perspective and unleash my curiosity about life.
However, below are 5 of my favorite books on how to find your passion that may surprise you. I hope they will inspire you to see things from a fresh perspective, awaken your curiosity, and help you realize that finding your passion and living your best life is possible.
This New York Times bestseller is all about following your curiosity rather than listening to fear of failure. It is for the creative souls who may be scared to pursue their creativity and forge their own path.
“Big Magic” explores what living a creative life really means, and how to follow your curiosity and deepest desires to find your passions, as well as more joy and meaning in your life. The message sometimes touches on the spiritual, but also remains pragmatic and inspires readers to live a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by the author, and found Elizabeth Gilbert’s voice to be both soothing and encouraging.
This book will inspire you to think about everything in life differently. More about how to find yourself than how to find your passion, it will show you how to live a beautiful and full life, by listening to your inner wisdom or knowing, setting personal boundaries that honor yourself, and breaking free from familial and societal expectations that have been ingrained in you.
Rachel Hollis is a mom of four, CEO of a multi-million dollar lifestyle brand and media company, best-selling author, and in “Girl, Wash Your Face”, she is both your biggest cheerleader telling you to go for the goal and a life coach giving you the tools to do so.
Each chapter of this book breaks down the biggest lies we tell ourselves as women, that keep us stuck and unable to move forward in pursuit of a life full of passion, authenticity, and purpose. As you read through “Girl, Wash Your Face”, you’ll be fired up to get out there and start going after your biggest dreams and goals in life.
“What I Know For Sure” is a compilation of Oprah’s powerful wisdom on joy, resilience, connection, gratitude, possibility, awe, and clarity from her own life experience. Oprah encourages readers to stop and look around so we won’t miss the tiny “miracles” we tend to overlook every day.
It will remind you to be mindful of what truly matters in life and open your eyes to all that is possible, including how your own personal way of spirituality plays a role in leading you to find your passion and fulfill your purpose. Do yourself a favor and get the audiobook so you can hear Oprah’s beautiful words in her own melodic voice.
I will admit that I haven’t yet had the chance to read this one, but it’s at the top of the list for my next read.
Dr. Brene Brown is a world-renowned author, research professor, and thought leader. In “The Gifts of Imperfection”, she provides a set of powerful tools with which to cultivate a richer, more fully engaged, and connected life by embracing who you are and moving past who you think you’re supposed to be in order to live a more “whole-hearted” life.
More to consider on your journey to finding your passions in life…
Now that you have some great book recommendations and understand why following your curiosity is the best starting point for your journey to finding your passions in life, I’d like to give you some more to consider.
Why is it important to seek out your passions?
Life is a different journey for every person, however, I firmly believe that there is not anything or anyone that can make a person happy. The only way to find long term happiness is to cultivate it from within.
True happiness comes with the contentment of trusting and loving who you are and that starts with knowing who you are first.
You learn about yourself by exploring your curiosities and discovering your passions and this connects you to your true self and helps foster that happiness from within yourself.
Tips for finding your passions:
1.) Make a list of what makes you happy
Take some time to sit down in a quiet spot, pen and paper in hand, and reflect on what makes you happy. Ask yourself what truly brings you joy and happiness on a deep level.
Try to answer the following questions:
- What are you physically doing when you feel happiest?
- Where are you located when you’re happiest?
- Who are you spending time with?
I go into further detail on how to do this in my post: How To Create A ‘What Makes You Happy List’
2.) Brainstorm your curiosities
In addition to making a list of what makes you happy, another idea is to brainstorm ideas for everything and anything you’re curious about. Write down anything that comes to mind without judging the thought.
As we discussed above, you never know where curiosity may lead, and exploring your curiosity is the most important thing you can do to discover your passions. Tapping into your curiosities is the entry point to discovering your interests, which may lead to future passions.
Brainstorm ideas by thinking about your answers to the following questions:
- What is an activity you’ve always wanted to try?
- What are you curious to learn more about?
- What do you feel envious of other people doing?
3.) Reconnect with childhood interests
Oftentimes thinking about your childhood interests and how you chose to spend your time in your younger years can help you reconnect with who you are and lead to discovering your passions.
A good way to do this is to spend time with childhood friends and family who knew you when you were a younger version of yourself and talk about what you were like back then.
- How do they remember you as a kid?
- What stood out about you?
- What do they recall you doing in your free time?
- What did you describe as your “dream life” as a child?
4.) Ask someone who knows you well
Sometimes the people we’re close to see things in us that we don’t see ourselves. Ask someone who knows you well what they think you might enjoy.
Your partner, mom, sister, or a close friend might be able to suggest something that peaks your interest based on what they know about your personality and the unique ways you operate. What they share might even surprise you!
Be open to their ideas and maintain an open mind….you never know where it could lead.
5.) Don’t worry about being good at it
If there’s something you imagine you might enjoy, but you don’t expect that you’ll be very good at it, do it anyway. Seriously, don’t worry about being good at it!
Let go of any expectations you may have about your aptitude for a certain interest. Your goal is to find something that lights you up and awakes something within you. It doesn’t matter if you’re any good at it as long as it makes you feel alive.
Final Thoughts: 5 Surprising Books on How to Find Your Passion In Life
Finding your passion in life can be hard work and it’s certainly no easy feat.
I hope you will check out some of these books on how to find your passion and that they inspire you to look within yourself to find your natural curiosity. In doing so, you will be able to see the world around you from the lens of possibility and become open to all the “what ifs” that life has to offer you.
When you give yourself a chance to try the things about which you’re curious, hopefully, you will find what it is you truly love. This is the best way to discover new passions and lead a truly fulfilling life.
I’d love to hear if you have a favorite inspirational book on how to find your passion. Comment below.
For more help finding your passion in life, try starting a journaling practice! Check out my FREE Journaling Guide below and this post: “Types of Journaling: Which Is Best For You?”.
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Carly is a wife, mom, and former fashion industry executive turned blogger, who is on a journey to live life as the best version of herself. Through her website, littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice and heartfelt insights to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life.