How to Find Your Passion – Here’s a Test

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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How to Find Your Passion Test: Hector and the Search for Happiness & Happiness Lesson 10

I recently saw a small little foreign film called, Hector and the Search for Happiness, staring Simon Pegg as Hector, a quirky psychiatrist who has become increasingly tired of his structured life. Armed with buckets of courage and child-like curiosity, he embarks on a global quest in hopes of uncovering the elusive secret formula for true happiness. (Source: Wikipedia)

Normally I write about being a top blogger and running a website about what you are passionate about, but what do you do if your don’t know what you’re passionate about?  What if you don’t know how to find your passion?

To me, it’s finding your passion about finding happiness and satisfaction in your life.  It’s why I started the 8 Women Dream website.

In his quest, Hector learns 23 lessons about happiness:

1. Making comparisons can spoil your happiness.
2. Happiness often comes when least expected.
3. Many people only see happiness in their future.
4. Many people think that happiness comes from having more power or more money.
5. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story.
6. Happiness is a long walk in beautiful, unfamiliar mountains.
7. It’s a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.
8. Happiness is being with the people that you love. Unhappiness is being separated from the people that you love.
9. Happiness is knowing that your family lacks for nothing.
10. Happiness is doing a job that you love, or doing something you are passionate about.
11. Happiness is having a home and a garden of your own.
12. It’s harder to be happy in a country run by bad people.
13. Happiness is feeling useful to others.
14. Happiness is to be loved for EXACTLY who you are.
15. Happiness comes when you feel truly alive.
16. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate.
17. Happiness is caring about the happiness of those you love.
18. The Sun and the Sea make everybody happy.
19. Happiness is not attaching too much importance to what other people think.
20. Happiness is a certain way of seeing things.
21. Rivalry ruins happiness.
22. Women care more than men about making others happy.
23. Happiness means making sure that those around you are happy.

While enjoying the movie, I was most struck by lesson number 10 when Hector rediscovers his best friend in South Africa.  This friend loves his work in South Africa and Hector sees that happiness is about being passionate about something you do, whether you make good money at it or not.

This would be a difficult  lesson for most people because our reasons for work are all too often tied to money and security for our families.  High-paying jobs can typically leave many feeling depleted and yearning for something more.  It’s when most begin to look at going after their dream, but they aren’t sure what that dream is.

If this is you then it’s important to investigate what it is that you do love — just as Hector went on a quest to find out what happiness is.  Like Hector, sometimes we think we want one thing, and we begin exploring it, only to find it isn’t what we expected. It isn’t something we are passionate about.

It’s about passion

• Passion keeps you in the game during all the highs and lows of dreaming.

• Passion gets you up at 4:00 a.m. to write that book you dream of publishing.

• Passion makes you eat more rice when you are sick of it, because you are saving all your money for your dream trip to Italy.

• Passion makes you train in the rain while preparing for the marathon you promised yourself you’d complete before you turn 40.

Let’s say you explore getting back into running because you believe it is linked to your passion and you remember how much you loved to run as a child and how you had successfully competed in some races. You are thinking that you miss it terribly because it has been on your mind for some time now, so you buy some running shoes and begin to hit the pavement …

Then BOOM you suddenly remember all the things you once hated about running and the reasons you quit. Disappointed, you put your running shoes away and go back to your regular life believing that you are a failure at figuring out what you are passionate about.

This is where you are looking at your past incorrectly and need to explore your love of running on a much deeper level.  Maybe it wasn’t the actual act of running that made you happy – maybe it was something about the running and in that something lies the secret to finding your passion and living your dream.

You must thoroughly investigate  your past interests in order to understand them.  Maybe you loved running because it took you away from an awful home and up into the hills, where you loved to explore new trails and experience new situations. By exploring your reasons WHY you love doing something, you’ll discover a common theme in your life.  In this case maybe being a nature tour guide–helping other people discover the peace that a mountain hike can be.

Maybe it was never about the running.

Exploring Your Past – The Passion Test

In 2010, I put together a small guide called “Find your Dream”  with an exercise to pinpoint the WHY in the things that you love doing.

Exercise 1 in my guide is “Find your Passion Test”:

Place a big T on a piece of paper and put “This gave Me Joy” over the left column and “I Felt” over the right column. If you have the e-book go to the Find Your Dream Worksheet #1 on page 11

How to Find Your Passion Test: The find your passion test sheet

Find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed and answer the following on the piece of paper:

Think back to when you were young. What did you love to do before you were 12, or when you were in grade school? List all the things you liked doing that made your heart sour. Only list those things you enjoyed before 7th grade. Try and come up with as many things as possible. This should be done quickly so you don’t have time for doubt, or over-think your answers.

To help you with this exercise here are my answers to what I loved and felt . . .

• Riding my bike – made me feel free, adventurous, excited, new experiences, happy, independent.
• Playing with doll house – made me feel excited, new experiences, happy, content, independent.
• Ballet/dancing – made me feel free, alive, adventurous, new experiences, challenged, special, excited.
• Telling stories – made me feel alive, new experiences, excited, loved, happy.
• Writing in diary – made me feel content, loved, adventurous, competent, happy, special, independent.
• Performing – made me feel happy, loved, alive, competent, free, special, new experiences, adventurous.
• Setting up performances – made me feel loving, caring, excited, free, new experiences, adventurous.
• Gardening with my Dad – made me feel loved, smart, caring, special, content, safe, happy.
• Helping my Dad fix things – made me feel loved, smart, new experiences, caring, special, content, safe, happy, loving, adventurous.
• Drawing and coloring – made me feel free, content, smart, safe, adventurous, happy, independent.
• Reading – made me feel happy, adventurous, smart, free, excited, safe, new experiences, independent, competent.
• Putting on the clothes my mother made for me –made me feel loved, caring, new experiences, content, happy, joy, special, safe.
• Ice skating – made me feel independent, adventurous, joy, free, new experiences, excited, happy, content, special, competent.

Now ignore what gives you joy and only look at how you felt. Mine looks like this –

Happy – 11 times
New Experiences – 10 times
Adventurous – 9 times
Content – 7 times
Free – 7 times
Excited – 6 times
Independent – 6 times
Competent – 5 times
Safe – 5 times
Loved – 5 times
Special – 5 times
Caring – 4 times
Loving – 2 times
Challenged – 1 time

This only captures one period in my life so far, when I was very young (age 12 and under) and it is not unusual to see that it is most important that I’d be happy, want new experiences and love adventure. What small child doesn’t live this way?

Is this still true for me today? Yes, but we aren’t done yet.

Part of the process in working through the worksheets in the book are seeing what shows up. It is always different for everyone. You will be surprised at what you discover.

Does this mean that I should run out and be a bike rider for a living? No. It means that bicycle riding represents something completely individual to me. For someone else it may very well mean getting involved in bike racing, but not me.

What bicycle riding represents for me is travel and the feeling of adventure which makes me happy. I love to travel. But as a young girl, bicycle riding was the closest thing to independent travel. I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but hopefully you can see where I am going with this.

I make the point in the book that you have to be a detective in your life and look at your answers from many different angles to discover what it is you are most passionate about. Was I really good at any of these things that gave me joy? Yes. I was good at dancing, riding my bike, redecorating my doll house, gardening, reading, performing and telling stories.

Is there something I like doing today that combines these things I loved doing growing up?

I might incorporate riding my bike more to see how I feel, but part of what I see in my past is a person who likes to make things pretty.  A person who likes to change her environment and share those experiences with other people.  She’s someone who likes to write, but she also likes to inspire others.

Running a blog encompasses my love of writing, redecorating, performing and telling stories.  Some might argue that I should be a travel writer… maybe… but I like running a blog and I would do it for nothing — that should tell you a lot about your passion.

Would you do it for free? Would you do it until you dropped?  Would you do it even if people made fun of you?

Let me know what you discovered about yourself.


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Find Your Dream, Set Your Path, Change Your Life Book 1

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