We are often given an unhelpful piece of advice, which is: “Follow your passion.” The suggestion is all well and good if you happen to have a passion, but many of us don’t. Perhaps there are multiple things we’re interested in, or we don’t yet recognize a strong impulse in particular direction.
However, even if you can’t define your passion, you can always access your curiosity. Listen to the little voice in your head or turn your head ever so slightly when there’s a tap on your shoulder. Curiosity whispers, but if your look a little more closely at the things that catch your interest, you can create a life that’s entirely unique to you.
This weekend, I began a course led by Elizabeth Gilbert titled, What is Creative Living? where the teacher suggests that instead of being afraid when we can’t find passion, we should wake up each morning and analyze our consciousness. Like a miner searching for gold in the creek, look for little patches of light and sparkle. Identify what’s even just a little bit interesting to you. Take note, even if it doesn’t make sense.
Success comes from our decision to say yes to every invitation from curiosity. That steadfast persistent will lead to a gradual unfolding, to reveal whether that shimmer was the tip of your passion iceberg or just a bit of fool’s gold. Either way, curiosity will lead us to a new revelation.
However, this discovery begins only when we give ourselves permission to return to something that brings us joy, or to pursue something new that piques our interest. Sometimes these simple pleasures seem irrational, but we need to learn to re-frame our thinking. Instead of focusing on whether a particular skill will advance our career, we should start asking ourselves: “Does this make me feel purposeful and alive?”
If you wait for passion to come, you may be waiting for a very long time. Instead, choose to follow the scavenger hunt of curiosity. Sometimes the end of the path leads us to another fork in the road, but–if we’re lucky–we may discover a newfound sense of vitality and joy at various stops along the way.