Walk the Dragon program made me realise that I am not the only one who has struggled to identify their calling in life. Many others too struggle to identify their passion or in deciding their course in life. Here, I share some of the questions and resources that have helped me, in the hope that they may help you too. Many of these have been shared by Swamiji while others are from various other sources. Unfortunately, I did not keep copious notes and as such am unable to credit all the resources; but where I do remember, you will find the name of the book or person or links to a resource site (excluding this site, since you are already aware of it).
But before you begin, bear in mind that passions are not always one word answers. They might sometimes be an extension of your personality and vice versa. For e.g. you may be someone who goes out of their way to answer people’s questions – perhaps your passion is helping people access and gain information. Or maybe you are the parent who always helps the school organise its social events – maybe your passion is organizing social events. Or maybe you are an engineer who prefers to write about technology rather than coding it – perhaps your passion is communicating technology. As you go through the resources below, keep an open mind about how we define passion. Maybe your passion is unique and needs you to define it.
Furthermore, sometimes the challenge is not that we do not know our passion. The challenge might be in accepting it and seeing it for what it is. Often we miss our calling simply because it comes too easily. By that I don’t mean to say that we don’t have to work at our calling. Rather just the opposite. We work at it a lot more than we work at other things for the simple reason that this particular kind of work gives us joy. We are enamoured of the process itself. And so we keep whittling away at it, learning it bit by bit, advancing our knowledge until we do it almost effortlessly. And then because it is so effortless, we fear that this can’t possibly be our calling. For we have been led to believe that callings are hard work and you have to give in your sweat and tears to accomplish anything. And so we keep on searching, not realising that we have already toiled away and paid the price and now is the time to enjoy the rewards. So think back to the things that you do easily, almost effortlessly. Could that be your calling? If not, then read on and dwell on the questions below:
Questions to ask yourself
- Look back at your life. What were your happiest moments? Try listing your top five or ten happiest times and what you think was the reason for your happiness.
- What subjects did you enjoy at school? Do you still pursue them? If not, why did you give them up?
- Who do you admire in your inner circle? What qualities of theirs impresses you? Are those the qualities you want to emulate?
- Who is it that you just can’t identify with? What about their personality, thinking or anything else do you dislike?
- What is it that you “just get” without effort and what is it that you just don’t get, even with effort? For example, for me, words are easy and I just understand their nuances; but much as I enjoy listening to music, I just don’t get the finer nuances like scales and melody vs rhythm and so on. What is it that you get without effort?
- What is it that you like to spend your time perfecting? For example, I like to use capitalisation and commas even in sms, a friend is a fiend when it comes to cleanliness while another one is style personified. What do you obsess about?
- When is your energy highest? Often things that energise you are the things you are passionate about and vice versa. However, as you identify these, remember that sometimes too much of a good thing may also cause you to feel drained. So ask yourself if this activity drains you or is it that you have done too much of it and need a break?
- How do you spend your time? Track your time and analyse what you focus on. If you are not already following your passion, then chances are that you might be spending time thinking or dreaming about it.
- What are you curious about? As Elizabeth Gilbert points out, your curiosities are clues to little parts of yourself. Follow them and eventually you will discover the path you want to follow.
- What are you afraid of? And I am not referring to fears like being afraid of the dark or closed spaces. I mean activities that you keep thinking about but procrastinate acting upon. As Celes shares in personalexcellence.co, your greatest fears are where your true calling lies. For e.g. do you keep dreaming about being an actor but avoid joining an acting class. Or maybe like me, you keep writing half done articles, but avoid hitting the publish button. These are clues to your passion.
And now some resources:
Personalexcellence.co – I discovered this site as a I searched for ways to discover my calling. And for me, it was one of the best sites that helped me clarify how I really want to spend my days. Through many articles, podcasts and videos, Celes aims to “to help others achieve their highest potential in life.” She shares easy, doable, step by step activities to help you achieve your goal, in this case, finding your passion. Here’s a quick link to a free 21 day exercise to get you started at discovering your passion.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers – a gem of a book that opened my eyes to the fact that my pain was the result of my choices and the stories I was telling myself. Which is not to say that I acted upon the advice given in the book at the time! Nonetheless, the book remains one of the most though provoking books I have read.
The Element by Sir Ken Robinson: Another interesting read on finding your element. Read the book or listen to him on You Tube here. You will love his delivery and wit.
Find your personality at – 16personalities.com – An essential part of finding your passion lies in first understanding yourself – your likes and dislikes, your motivations and fears, what lifts you high and what pulls you down. This website is a fun tool to discover a little more about yourself and understand what makes you tick. Take their free personality test and hopefully you will know a bit more about yourself by the end of it.
James Clear and Chris Guillebeau – I have been a long time subscriber of the now well known authors James Clear (of the Atomic Habits fame) and Chris Guilleabeau (of the Art of Non Conformity and Side Hustle fame). Long before they wrote bestsellers, they were documenting their journeys of continuous improvement through their newsletters and website. Personally, I find their writing interesting and motivating. Do check out their websites to understand habit formation better and discover alternate ways of looking at life.
Brain Pickings – One woman’s labour of love, this newsletter and website is a testimony to the power of passion. For many years now, Maria Popova has been slipping into my inbox with words of wisdom and love from varied masters. Writers, artists, philosophers, dreamers…all find space in her weekly round up as she reminds us of our collective consciousness. If you are someone who enjoys dwelling on all concepts literary and philosophical, then this one is definitely for you.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – an awesome book if you are struggling with executing on your passion. Read it for its ability to set you free to create, offer your creation to the world and repeat the process.
As you go through the above, you might wonder, how and why some of these resources relate to finding your passion. On the face of it they don’t seem to have anything to do with it. But look closely and you will find that all these resources have one thing in common – they are all the result of people following their passion. And that is what makes them remarkable. Just realising that people are discovering their passions and calling by following their interests or dreams, is an eye opener in itself.
I do hope you find some of these resources useful and discover your passions and calling. And when you do, I hope you will be courageous and take that first little step; that first perfect or imperfect step that lets you know that you are progressing. That is exactly what I am doing with this article which has insanely enough, been sitting on my computer for over three months now. Why, you ask? Because I felt that it was not good enough, I have not covered everything, I have not listed all the resources that were helpful, I do not remember all the names to credit, is it even helpful? etc. But imperfect as it is, I am choosing to publish it and learn as I go along. And I hope you will too.
P.S. – If you have any of your own resources that you would like to add, please do share them. Someone, somewhere is bound to find it helpful.