5 More Productive Questions to Ask Yourself Than "How Do I Find My Passion?"

As a career coach, I frequently get asked the question, “How do I find my passion?” While I fully support the aspiration to find meaningful work, I don’t prescribe to the idea that we must ask this question to get there. When we focus simply on finding our passion, we limit ourselves so that we can no longer think comprehensively about the world of work and career possibilities that may fulfill us.  Instead, we often become stuck, searching for our one and only career soul mate. 

When you really think about it, the idea that we have one single passion and we must turn that passion into our one and only career is absurd.  Can you imagine having one job, or even one career, from the time you are a 20 something until you retire?  For many baby boomers, yes, this may be the norm.

But we know that the average millennial today will hold an average of 20-25 different jobs and 3 different careers. 

So rather than worry about finding that one and only career you will do and love forever, concern yourself with finding the next thing – something that fits you right here, right now.

In order to do so, here are some different questions to ask yourself:

What am I interested in?

What do you like to read? What movies or TV shows are you drawn to? How do you like to spend your free time? What types of activities have you gotten involved in outside of school or work?

What’s important to me?

What do you value the most? Family, travel, community, health, creativity, money, recognition, making a difference, etc.?

What am I good at?

What skills have you gained from previous work or volunteer experience? When have you excelled or been praised for your work?

What type of work environment appeals to me?

Have you ever worked somewhere that you did not enjoy being? What about the opposite, a place where you loved going to work? What were the people like? What did it look, sound, and feel like?

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If simply reflecting on the questions above isn't cutting it for you, dive deeper into these topics by downloading my career clarity workbook.  It's over 30 pages and filled with activities and questions to help you evaluate your values, interests, and skills.

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By asking yourself these questions, I believe we can aspire to find our fit through the career counseling model of “planned happenstance.” Planned happenstance is a career theory developed in 1999 by Mitchell, Levin, and Krumboltz.  The idea behind planned happenstance is that we can “construct career opportunities.”  In other words:

if we begin by answering some of the questions above to identify our skills, interests, and values that will be important to us across our career, we can then open ourselves up to “chance” career options and unexpected career events so that we can construct career opportunities for ourselves. 

In order to open yourself up to the idea of planned happenstance, ask yourself one more question:

Who do I know?

Reflecting back on your answers to the previous questions, begin to brainstorm about who you know that may work in jobs that hold some of these same qualities.  Maybe you know a former colleague or classmate that now works in a field that sounds interesting.  Perhaps you have a family friend that has a cool job in a work environment that you might like. Or suppose you’ve come across an alum’s profile on LinkedIn who shares a similar skillset.  Reach out to these individuals and ask for an informational interview.  Use this opportunity not to ask for a job, but to ask for information.  Get their advice and insight, and build a connection.  Chances are that this connection may lead to something – another connection, a potential opportunity, and perhaps a lead to your next step.