7 Great Questions for Uncovering Your Passions

After coaching over 400 individuals through my life & career coaching programs, if I had to pick the #1 question I am most often asked, it would be this:

How Do I Discover
My Passions?

Granted, answering this question isn’t always easy (if it was, there would be no need for life & career coaching).  But it CAN be answered.

The best place to start is to figure out what things “might” make your passions list and what things definitely don’t make your list.  The way to go about this is to be sure that you are asking yourself the right questions!

So, here are 7 questions I ask clients when they ask me: How Do I Discover My Passions?

One quick word of advice before we jump in.  Be completely honest with yourself when answering the questions below.  If you are unwilling to think deeply and honestly about these questions, it will be a waste of your time and an exercise in futility.

    1.  If money was a non-issue, what would you do with your life?  How would you spend your time?
    2. Think about all the times you’ve said:  “I’d really like to do that!”   List out all the “thats” you can think of.
    3. What do other people compliment you about?  What do they say you do well?
    4. Think back to when you had “big dreams” (some people think back to their childhood, but my “big dreams” were in my early teenage years).  What did you dream about?  What thoughts about your future made you feel really excited?  Now, this advice is going to be different than what most experts say…don’t just think about what those things were and whether or not you could do those things today (although, that’s a good first step).  Think “outside the box” and try to come up with what you could do today that would possibly make you feel the same way.

      Case in point:
      When I was in middle school, I dreamed about playing college basketball and maybe even making to the pros.  When I realized that these dreams probably were not going to be a reality for me, I started thinking about how much I would enjoy coaching.  In fact, in my early 20s, I did coach basketball and swimming, but more as a hobby than as a career.

      Years later, at 35 years old, when I was attempting to figure out how to make the move from a life and work that was an okay fit for me towards something I absolutely love, I thought about why I was so passionate about coaching and if I could find something that would make me feel the same way.  I realized that what I enjoyed most about coaching was inspiring, encouraging, and equipping young people to intentionally and proactively make positive progress in their lives.  Today, I do that all the time through my life and career coaching services, through speaking and training teenagers at conferences and during school assemblies, and through speaking and training educators at conferences and in-services (see www.KentJulian.com to find out more about the speaking services I provide).  I even coach a swim team during the summer.
    5. When you are at a bookstore or the library (great places to be, by the way), what magazines and books are you drawn towards?  When you are surfing the net, what websites interest you?

      Side Note:
      This is one of the best questions to ask yourself. Imagine you have two uninterrupted hours to browse around in your favorite bookstore.  In what sections will you be spending most of your time? What books and magazines will you flip through? When working with my clients, this is often THE question that helps them tap into their passions.
    6. What do you think you do well and what things do you like to do?

      Side Note: These things don’t necessarily have to be work related and they don’t have to be big.  The key is to name as many things as possible.
    7. Attend your own funeral in your mind (I know, kind of morbid, but this works).  What do you want your spouse, children, work associates, clients, and friends to say about you at your funeral?  How do you want to be remembered?  What contributions do you want to be recognized?

Okay, for this to work, you must think deeply about these questions.  Spend time “chewing” on them.  Take walks.  Think about them in the shower.  Answering these questions is not a fast process, but a deep one.

As your answers to these questions begin to bubble to the surface,  you’ll likely see patterns emerging.  You’ll either uncover things you haven’t thought about for a long time, or you’ll start realizing that you have been thinking about these things, but you’ve been too afraid to pursue them.

Once you unearth your passions, the next steps are to:

  • Articulate them
  • Figure out ways you might be able to tap into them more in your life and career
  • Develop a plan to make it happen (for me, this took investing in life and career coaching…the best investment I ever made).

Finally, if I could leave you with only one thought, it would be this:  Don’t avoid asking yourself these questions just because the process is hard, uncomfortable, or you are afraid you might not figure it all out. If you want to make the move to the life and work you love, you have to embrace the attitude that no matter how long it takes or how hard it is, you are going to figure this out and you ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!

And remember, I’m here to help.  I’d love to help you make the move to the life and work you love!

 

* Portions of these questions adapted from
Jean Chatzky’s great book The Difference

 

  • Anonymous

    Top notch as always Kent. People get so busy (me included) with menial tasks, instead of looking at the big picture. The big picture will help change someones life……

    • http://liveitforward.com Kent Julian

      Thanks Gregg. BIG picture leads to LITTLE daily steps which leads to BIG life!

  • http://www.kevingainey.com Kevin Gainey

    Question #5 is the one that really solidifies things for me in knowing I’m working in my area of passion and expertise. And when I have some “time to myself”, the local bookstore is where I go to hang out for a couple of hours. I try to branch out, but always find myself drawn to certain sections and losing track of time. Thanks for sharing this Kent!

    • http://liveitforward.com Kent Julian

      Kevin…#5 is the one that is most helpful for most of my clients as well. It’s probably the easiest one to figure out, and that’s one of the reasons it’s so helpful.

  • http://twitter.com/RandellMark Randell Mark

    Kent, I agree with Kevin, question #5 really helped me confirm my passions. It makes so much sense that we naturally gravitate to the things we’re most passionate about…I also believe that the funeral question is a great exercise to practice regularly, all part of living Intentionally. Thanks

    • http://liveitforward.com Kent Julian

      You’re very welcome Mark!

  • http://bluecollarradionetwork.com James Dibben

    My passions are technology and business.

    I figured out the group I connect with the most and now I’m pouring my business and technology knowledge into them on a regular basis. I come alive when doing this!

    Great article, Kent!

    • http://liveitforward.com Kent Julian

      Thanks for sharing James. And I see you all over Twitter, FAA, and more, and your passion to help others really comes through!

  • Barry Warn

    Definitely 7 questions that should be revisisted every year or two. As I become a husband, father, etc that some of the answers change while others stay consistent. Those that persist are the passions and they keep me honest with myself and true to what I want to do.

    • http://liveitforward.com Kent Julian

      Barry,

      First off, I like your picture. Not sure how my mug got connected to your comment. Sort of makes you look older :)

      In all seriousness, great comment! You’re authenticity really shines through.