Are you someone who has often grappled with the question – ‘What am I good at?’ or rather wondered, ‘Am I good at anything at all!’; then this blogpost on ‘How to find your passion’ is for you. And if you are one of those lucky souls who have always known what to do with their lives, I am sure you know ample people who are still struggling. Pass it on to them.

In this post, I am going to be breaking down the process of identifying your passion, finding something you are very good at, step by step. I know passion is a matter of heart but I am going to deal with it scientifically. Because, we all want logic at the end of the day. It is a slightly long post because no one ever is likely to find his passion through a FB kind of post. Read it deep and I commit you something huge for your own-self.

In the previous few years, I met so many sulkers & cribbers- people who are doing well in their jobs, careers but still deeply fatigued & vacuous. They do not have the guts to change their current situations. For, one cannot be free until one cuts one’s addiction to Money/ Power.

Then I also met this IITian who is now a Mountaineer and a travel blogger. Met an orthopaedic doctor who is a famous wedding photographer now, my best friend- formerly a Top CEO is now a Kriya Yogi, a housewife who at 50 started professional Skiing, an IPS officer who sought retirement at 45 to pursue Astrology full time, a CA who after 15 years of normal, boring practise became a very famous Wealth Manager i.e. PMS Expert (I saw his interview the other day on CNBC). Money / Power is important for these guys but they did not want to spend their entire lives working for them.

passion and career blog
(Image courtesy: Anina O)

See- there is no age or time to find your passion. If Stan Lee, the creator of the stunning Marvel Universe and one of the BEST comic book writers to have walked the Earth (RIP) can find his passion at 43, I am sure many of us aren’t very late. You don’t believe me? Go Google! He started drawing the X-Men and Spider-Man not until he was 43. Ripe age 🙂

My point being, before I even begin to decode one of the biggest mysteries of our lives, ‘how to find your passion’, I want you guys to understand that there is no deadline here. So keep your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) aside. This constant need to run an imaginary race (creating Billers & keeping on paying them out) is probably stressing you out more than your own confusion about your passion is. It’s okay if you are taking more time. There is no actual deadline here. Your timing may not be God’s timing. His is better 🙂

There are ample examples of people who found their true calling later in their lives, or found success after years of struggle. For e.g., the character of Professor Snape, the infamous Potions master from the Potter world, came to Alan Rickman much later in his life. In fact, he made his Hollywood debut with Die Hard at the age of 46! Look closer to home. Boman Irani, the famous Virus from 3 idiots, did not start his mainstream Bollywood career till he was 44. People in 40s – redemption is close by! 🙂

(20 People who found Fame after 40 Proving that Success has no Deadline)

If you think your struggle to find what you are good at has become hell, here’s a thought –

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” My own addition to it – you don’t want to remain stuck in Hell do you? The best thing is to get out! So, keep going. Confusion is the beginning of Clarity. If you are confused, weary and bored today- it is a great state to be in. Anyone who has achieved anything ever has gone through the CONFUSION path. But then he kept walking, finding answers and growing his guts to implement those answers.

So here’s breaking down your search for your hidden talent, your passion, or what you are good at. A word of caution though – I can only help with the direction, the process. It’s subjective in nature and how you interpret, analyse, decode, and utilize it – is totally up to you. I am attempting to light a lamp here. Its brightness and quality of light will differ according to the sum total of what your life’s been so far.

1. MUSIC vs. INSTRUMENT

You MUST understand this very important concept. For this- I urge you to please read the very first blogpost I ever wrote: How to smartly choose a career.

The first step to identifying your passion would be to know ‘what is NOT your passion’. Elimination makes it more Easy e.g. I always knew that doing a Job can never be my passion.

Trust me; becoming a Motivational Speaker also was never my first career choice. It was some 7th career that I was trying. From wanting to be an Air-Force officer (because i then believed that women love men in uniform) to attempting MBBS Entrance exams (because all in family were doctors) to studying Fashion to running a discotheque at a place of spiritual interest to many other more- I have had more variegated Careers in my life than relationships.

how to choose a career
(Image courtesy: Ali Express)

In 90s, I thought I was creative and wrote the NIFT Entrance. I joined NIFT, Delhi for PG Fashion studies because I had cleared the test (no other reason or passion). To use the common phrase, ‘I sucked at it’! I had zero idea and affinity for designing or stitching clothes. Zilch. NADA. Though, it was an experience of a lifetime. (I have touched upon this briefly in my latest video: The Answers you Secretly Need: Questions Unplugged)

Then I went on to start a discotheque called ‘Xcite’ in my hometown, McLeodganj, Dharamshala. I still don’t know what I was thinking. Probably just channelizing my creativity through the wrong avenue again. That’s what MUSIC and INSTRUMENT are about. Creativity was and is my MUSIC. But I was playing with the wrong instruments all these years. The full story of how I figured out that speaking (stories, humor & sarcasm) and helping others was my instrument of choice is in this blog post.

The point I am making here is – you will be attracted to many things which you will feel you are good at. For e.g. a creative person gifted with the arts could feel a pull towards various outlets like painting, digital art, design, graphics, illustrations, teaching art, selling art, artist management etc. Not all of them could be his passion. This understanding of MUSIC and INSTRUMENT will come in handy when you have options to eliminate or vet.

2. So, what’s YOUR favourite MUSIC?

I have met many people, who at some point or the other – felt that they are really average. Mediocre to the hilt with no good options in their lives. They think their education is average, their college is stupid, their parents don’t understand them, their friends are useless, their relatives are a torture, and even their OLA-Share co-passengers are never cute and so on.

If you are one from this tribe, I am going to say it to your face – the fault is somewhere in you, not your stars. When the music was being played around you, you were probably too buried in matters that didn’t matter, or your cell phone. Millennials please!

Anyway, how to remedy that now?Here is something I suggest you to try –

– Make a list of everything that interests you, that you have enjoyed doing over the years. It could be anything – reading, writing, art, studying, performing, speaking, cooking, travelling, creating new things, helping others… Basically, WHATEVER comes to your mind.

– Really dig deep too. For e.g. if you liked any of your school or Under-Grads or your PG, what is the subject you liked, which aspects of studying appealed to you more, what did you feel while delving deep into that subject etc. e.g. I still recall my school days where-in my favourite subject was English.

– If you are one of those who absolutely hated college and disliked everything you did in those 3-4 yrs, then make a list of whatever you think you are even remotely good at or are / were fond of outside college. As Ayn Rand wrote in Fountainhead- ‘Real Education begins beyond the Four Walls of College’. During my NIFT years, I hated subjects but loved meeting & observing new people, their lives, their issues, affairs, emotions & break-ups. So, not Fashion but I became a better student of life and living better. Even 3-4 years after I passed out of NIFT, I was doing and learning some crazy things. Today, in my Events- I am able to connect some of those dots.

career options
(Image courtesy: ruthrutherford.wordpress.com)

This list which you make is your compendium. It is how we are going to find out what you are passionate about! Sounds good so far?

Before we move ahead in our quest, I want to you to do one process of elimination right here. If you want to cross out anything from the list right away, just do that.

3. Some good old RESEARCH

It’s not easy. But let’s be patient.

Now that you have a list, find out everything you can about making a career in those shortlisted fields. Get your ass off your pity couch and do some hard research. Find out the various career options that each of them provide, the opportunity to make money in those fields (even if that’s not your priority), the requisite skills you need to succeed in those fields, any other requirements, whatever you can. And pls do not blindly trust Google. It ranks anyone because he had a better SEO done for its webpage. Go deep. Talk to people in those places, who are doing that stuff.

Give your heart all the information. The brain will give you the right answer. This research and knowledge is important because it will be the cornerstone of your road ahead.

Researching definitely about the monetary aspects of your favourite things because money might be incidental but you still gotta pay the bills! Besides, if money were never a concern and only passion was, most engineering boys who loved watching the blue stuff would become rich by being locked up in their bathrooms. The only people who make money out of the porn business, are well, the businessmen 🙂

Family Trap: – I read so many emails from people about unsupportive parents or spouses. Answer this for me – WHY should they be so easily convinced of your dream if you have not given them any reason to do so? Till the time you show genuine conviction, know-how, talent, some good results, why would anyone believe you! Your sense of direction and belief in your path will convince others.

More importantly – WHY WOULD YOU WANT THEM TO BELIEVE YOU?

Let their disbelief fuel you more, egg you on to find some good results, test your theories out in the market. You should be thankful for the disbelief of your parents/ spouse. They are your strongest well-wishers. No one wants you to succeed in life as badly as they do. If you have to work a little hard to show them some results before they bless you, because they just want to be sure you are strong and skilled and fortified enough to do this – I think it’s FAIR ENOUGH.

4. Match the following!

Now that you are armed with knowledge in your arsenal, you do some good old ranking.

I told you this is going to be a nerdy process! Rank the options on the list according to what appeals you the most. Your research might change the way you look at some of the options and that’s fine. That was the whole idea behind it.

Next you match those requisite skills with the know-how you have. Research is a great way to find GAPS. Use this research to find gaps between where you are now and where you want to go. Ask yourself these questions –

– What skills do you lack that can get you there?
– Can you develop them on your own or do you need training?
– Can someone else lend you that skill? (Other people’s talent and time)
– Where will you find such people?

These are very important questions! Do not trudge on them lightly or pass through them breezily. Matching your current AUKAAT with your future genius is crucial to answering, “how to find your passion & create a super career out of it”. And if all this seems like too much work, let me remind you that if you want to become a genius in life in whatever passion you have, you should know that –

Genius is 1% inspiration. And 99% perspiration. (Clichéd but true to the core)

Even those who know what they want to do with their lives – do not have their work cut out. They have to PLAN & then perspire equally to get there. As warren Buffet said it so beautifully-

‘An IDIOT with a PLAN can BEAT a GENIUS without a PLAN’.

For e.g. Realizing that I wanted to be a Motivational Speaker was not enough. I dreamed big. While my communication skills were never a problem, I knew nothing much about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, technology etc. Why would I need any of these skills, one may ask. Let me break it down for you –

I dreamed big so my outreach had to be big. In the age of the internet, my research told me quite early that I needed a website, a Blog and a huge social media to tell people about who I am, and what I do. I needed to create content around my area of expertise and I needed to ‘sell’ it to potential clients (for the lack of a better word), I needed to constantly write, market myself, build a brand, stay fit to endure all the traveling, keep reading to remain updated, and look good too while I do all this 🙂

Trust me – this takes a village. It’s not a one person job. Thankfully, as I identified the set of skills that were needed, and I started taking steps to acquire them, life kept sending me friends who were armed with these skills and were always there to help me out. As long as I was convinced, I found help every time I needed!

You will too. Just keep going. Remember THIS- ‘You keep your FORCE for your GOAL right and the right people will automatically get drawn into your Life to help you achieve that’. This is like an amazing, no-where written Rule. Try it out.

5. Testing the waters, in the Market

I know even after all this, many of you might still be confused about which one to pick from the list. So here’s the final trick up my arsenal.

Firstly a very Strong Caveat:- Beware of the Passion Trap. What is Passion Trap exactly? Just because you think, you are good at something doesn’t mean that you actually would be good at that thing. It just could be your erroneous gut feeling e.g. I met this brilliant guy last year who was so keen to give up his high paying investment banking job for the love of his photography. And when I saw his work- it was very below average. So, who answers if your passion is your imagination trap or a genuinely sharp skill which can be transformed into something colossal? Answer- only market will answer you right, no one else will.

Let’s again get back to your list. You have your choices ranked according to your preference and priorities. Now rank them according to your abilities. We tried matching the passion with the current skill level. Now take a look at those gaps and TEST IT OUT IN THE MARKET.

By this I mean –out of your options, if you have managed to find something you like, you test it out in the real world.

See closely if the market is rewarding you with money or fame for your skill. I understand it might take some time but that’s okay. Invest in the process NOW if you don’t want bad returns later. The risk is high either ways.

What I want you to NOT DO, while you test your talents in the market is – trust the word of your friends and family. They will not always know the technicalities of your work, or they will be too kind in their opinion. If you have ever needed honest feedback in your life – IT IS NOW. Actively look for people who are good in the field, people who have been rewarded by the market, and usually know what they are talking about.

For e.g. just being good at English or communication is not enough to become a Motivational Speaker. Simply being able to cheer up your sad family member of friend does NOT mean you can inspire a room or auditorium full of unknown people too. Test it out in the market. Spend some time developing your skills and building your network and see if the market rewards you with money and more work. If it does, there might be scope after all. At least, that’s what I did. I did not take the word of aunties from my mom’s kitty parties that I was funny and good with words. I have tested it repeatedly over the years and solidified it with training and hard work.

Knowing your passion is one thing. Becoming exceptional at it is another. The former is just one step, the first step. One can’t discount the importance of the 999 steps of honing your craft that come after you have realized your passion or identified your craft. Only after taking 1000+ Events in last 18+ years, did I realize- ‘how actually to conduct a REAL, GOOD Event’.

Here’s another word of cautionary Advice –

As I write this, I am greatly reminded of the Ranbir Kapoor-Deepika Padukone movie ‘Tamasha’. It is one of Imtiaz Ali’s finest works, and one of my absolute favourites. A highly underrated movie, among the many overrated ones. A Ved cannot make this journey alone, especially when he has given up on his dreams. The process of following one’s passion can often be difficult, demanding, and confusing.

In times like these, you need a Tara in your life, not necessarily someone you get to kiss, but someone who believes in you when you don’t. Tara could be your Mentor who has seen your field of passion more closely well than you. Your Tara also could be a pot-bellied, bald Uncle type man too and not necessarily someone with a short skirt :). Having a Mentor friend (who already is successful in your chosen domain super helps). You’ll need skills to convince him / her to not only guide help you but also keep on doing the same for long term. I am doing the same to some 5 people currently (house full 🙂 ).

What I mean is – you are NOT alone in this journey, this quest. If you find it daunting, that’s okay. There will always be someone who believes in you. If you find your Tara, great! If not, try to be your own, as much as you can.

I know a lot of people give unsolicited advice, “Do what you Love”, “One Life! Don’t waste it living someone else’s life”, and other blah things. I am guilty of it too. This post was an attempt to show you the hard work that goes behind finally becoming what you love. Clarity will never ever come to you. You yourself will need to move your ass and go to it. It is all about making a few CLEAR, COMMITTED DECISIONS and then having the patience to see them through.

Hope this post really helps you figure out the directions you want to move in.

As Albert Einstein said- “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” Einstein’s passion was curiosity. Not science. What’s yours?

Get going buddy! It would take a few wrong decisions & thence further revisions to reach THAT place. And trust you me, THAT place only is THE place. Rest are all parking arrangements. One Life!

Lots of Love

Akash Gautam

About Author

Akash Gautam is a Motivational Speaker & Corporate Trainer in India. Hundreds of Top Corporates like Google, CIPLA, Vodafone, McKinsey & Co., Maruti, HDFC, RIL, M&M & premier colleges like IIMs, IITs, SRCC etc go to him whenever they need a refreshing, big bang impact. Write to usWrite to us to know how he can transform your Team.

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