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How to Actually "Follow Your Passion"

“Do what you love” and “Follow your passion” have become vogue phrases within the past decade. But what do they really mean? It can be difficult to put these ideas into practice when we have a misconception of how they should be implemented.

For instance, just because you love photography doesn’t mean you have to be a photographer. This might be the case for some, and if it is, great! But not everyone has the talent, opportunity, or ability to make photography a career. Instead of throwing in the towel and giving up the dream of doing what you love, look at what that activity—in this case, photography—does for you. This is the basis of an overwhelming truth:

Sustained career success rests upon a clear understanding of your passions, 

or what uniquely motivates you.

Here’s an exercise to get you started:

On a piece of paper or your phone, write the words and phrases that immediately come to mind when you ask yourself, “What do I really love to do?” Record them quickly without qualifying them. They may come from any part of your life—home, work, relationships, activities, etc. Don’t spend too much time thinking about it. If you have to think too hard after the first five to ten things, you’ve gone past your true passions.

Once you’ve completed this task, go through each one and ask yourself, “What does this passion do for me personally?” These are your core needs. These are the aspects of your life that must be present in your career in order for you to feel fulfilled.

For example, on my list of passions I have:

  • Cooking/baking
  • Being outdoors
  • Teaching (in the classroom and one-on-one)
  • Making music (singing, playing piano)

As for for my core needs:

Passion: Cooking/baking → Core Need: Creating something, using my abilities to serve others

Passion: Being outdoors → Core Need: Freedom, connection with something larger than myself

Passion: Teaching → Core Need: Seeing people learn, develop, and grow

Passion: Making music → Core Need: Expressing my emotions, creating something beautiful


Now that I’ve identified what each of my passions does for me, I can now create or adjust my career to fulfill those core needs. For some, this might mean a slight adjustment to your current job. For others, this might mean a total career change. Whatever the case may be, taking time to discover your core needs will better your life and help you actually follow your passion.

If you are looking for support in shaping your career or transitioning to a new job, or if you simply want to use an hour or two with an experienced career guide, we can help you with finding your passion.