Quote: If you don't know what you're passionate about, you an only find work you love by chance.

How can I find work I love if I don’t feel passionate about anything?

If you don’t love your work now, but want to find a career that is energizing and fulfilling you probably fall into one of the four following camps:

  1. You already know what you really want to do and are working on transitioning from where you are to where you want to be.
  2. You know what you are passionate about, but aren’t sure about how you could actually make a career out of it.
  3. You have so many different passions that you don’t even know where to start deciding on which one to follow, so you find it difficult to commit to any one path.
  4. You have no idea what you are really passionate about, so finding a career that does more than pay the bills seems like an impossible task.

Because so many people have been raised to think of work as a “necessary evil”, it is common to find people who chose their career path for reasons of income, security or status rather than their passions. Many people think of it as useless or shameful to ask “how can I find work I love?”, much less consider what they are passionate about. Unfortunately, if you don’t know what you’re passionate about, you can only find work you love by chance. The good news is that, with a little effort, you can begin to discover what you are passionate about and, eventually, be able to link these passions to work that will increase both your success and your fulfillment.

Explore the following different reasons on the origin of this lack of certainty about your passions, do discover how to begin getting more clarity and move closer to finding work you love.

If you’ve never really felt energized, excited, or passionate about a particular activity or interest.

First of all, at one time in your life, you did feel passionate about certain activities or interests even though you may not be able to remember it now. Human beings are passionate by nature. We come into this world with a keen interest in everything around us. With encouragement from our parents and caregivers as we grow, this fascination for the world in general gradually becomes more specific to each individual’s character and talents.

Unfortunately if you did not receive this encouragement, or were pushed into an area that was not in alignment with your natural strengths and talents due to either survival needs or your desire for approval, security or status, you may have lost touch with those innate passions.

Don’t despair. It is possible to reconnect with your long lost passions. What’s more, without realizing it, you have probably been in alignment with them at some level all along. It just takes a bit of sleuthing to dig them up from where they have been hidden from your daily awareness and practice.

When I work with people to try to remember their original genius – the things they loved to do and were fascinated by as a child – it can be very difficult for people to remember for three reasons:

  • They dismiss many of the things they remember as “just kid stuff” — irrelevant to what their passions should be in adult life.
  • They did not receive encouragement for what they loved to do and explore. Even worse, they may have experienced overt criticism, judgement and rejection when they began exploring their passions and interests.
  • They may have grown up in a family dynamic that did not support the expression of enthusiasm in any way. This could have been due to a sick parent who required a quiet environment or an alcoholic parent who ruled the home an iron fist, causing everyone to retreat into themselves.

If any of these are the case for you, one of the best things you can do to reconnect with your passions is to let yourself PLAY! This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get out the Lego blocks or your Barbie dolls (but if that’s what you feel like, go ahead!). What’s important is that you just start thinking about what feels like play to you right now.

On a lunch break at work? Arrange something fun to do. Bring crossword puzzles, coloring books, silly putty, play dough, markers and paints with you in your bag or the trunk of your car. Instead of heading out to the local coffee shop with everyone else, head off to the park and get in touch with doing something “just because it’s fun”.

Another great activity that can help you discover both new and old passions is to check out a list of meetups or other local events and pick one to go to that feels fun and exciting to you, one to go to that feels a bit scary and intimidating, one to go to that feels like it would have “your kind of people” there, and one (just to shake it up) that is totally unlike anything you have ever gone to before. (Spoon-bending for Peace comes to mind as a perfect example of this type of event. True story! I attended one several years back just because…well, it sounded too weird to be true.)

When you get yourself out of your comfort zone by doing the above kind of activities, you will reconnect with parts of yourself that you have disowned, meet new people, and learn about new things. If you were born in Africa and never seen or heard of snow, you can’t know that you love skiing until you know that it exists. If you have always travelled in certain professional and personal circles that don’t feed your passions, you need to get out of those circles and find new ones. Bottom line: You don’t know what you don’t know. Get out there and explore!

If you are experiencing a lack of passion for anything in your life and feel out of control or lost…

You may be going through a period of transition or experiencing what I refer to as “winter” or “chaos.” This is perfectly normal if you are in the midst of some form of change or transformation either internally or externally.

Have you just moved? Ended a relationship? Begun or ended a job? Are you going through a stage where you know you must change your job or relationship but haven’t taken action on it yet? Have you lost someone close to you?

Both my brother and his wife passed away unexpectedly within a year of each other a little under two years ago. Even though I love what I do, I definitely went through a period of feeling numb, depressed and lacking passion and energy for anything in my life. At a certain point I worried that I was never going to find that connection to my work again, but I resisted trying to force things to change and just gave in to the immediate work I needed to do on navigating the grieving process. Coming out the other side, I can now see that that time I took to allow myself to process has fueled a new sense of focus and passion in both my life and work.

Death might seem like the worst thing that a person could have to deal with, but often it is the death of relationships – be it work or personal – that is harder to deal with. Depending on how much choice you had in ending a relationship and how much anger and frustration you feel over how and why it ended, these feelings can drown out your ability to feel anything else. In cases like these, while it is important to give yourself time to process and make sense of why things ended, it is equally important to know when it is time to let go and move on.

If you have lost your connection to your passion for one of the above reasons, remember that these feeling of numbness are temporary, and will pass as your life settles down. Use this time to reflect, relax and introspect. New passions will begin to emerge gradually as you regain your feet in your new life.

If you feel disconnected from passions you once had…

Feelings of disconnection from passions you once had or a lack of passion for anything in your life may also be caused by burnout. Look at your commitments and evaluate if there are any that you can let go. Make time for yourself to just do nothing and be. You need to allow space and time for your passions to emerge and for you to notice them, and that space and time may simply not exist if your schedule is too full of obligations for passions to manifest.

The most important thing you can do to help you discover your passions is to stop worrying about finding what it is you really love. Focus instead on taking time to rest, take care of yourself and/or seek out experiences that truly energize you.

Don’t get caught up in thinking that passion has to be something all-consuming. Look for the simple pleasures in your day and slowly explore other areas that might relate to these. Passions come in all shapes and sizes. Just notice what brings a smile to your face, captures your attention, makes you forget about your worries for awhile or sends you off on a flight of fancy.

Don’t get caught up in thinking that passion has to be something all-consuming. Look for the simple pleasures in your day and slowly explore other areas that might relate to these.

Once you’ve reconnected with your passions…

When you’ve found your passions again, you’ll likely have a much better idea of how you want your life to look. From there, you can adjust life and career goals and begin your journey towards a life and career you love.