The most dreaded question that any high school student repeatedly gets asked is, “What are you going to do next year?”, which if they answer back with an answer such as “I’m not sure” the follow up question is normally – “Well, what are your passions? What do you enjoy doing?”.
The problem with this line of questioning is however, what happens if the young person doesn’t know what their passion is yet? When you were 17, had you found your passion that was going to “direct” your life? In most cases I am going to assume the answer to that question is no.
The number one thing that I have found when talking to young people who don’t know what direction to take their next step in life or haven’t discovered their passion yet, is that no one has actually given them a framework for them to find that thing (and I would argue that there are multiple ‘things’!) that they are passionate about.
So with that in mind, here are four steps and frameworks that we can teach to help young people find their passions.
Taste. Taste. Taste. Taste EVERYTHING!
You can’t steer a parked car! And you definitely aren’t going to begin the journey of unlocking your passions without building some momentum. In my opinion, your NUMBER ONE TASK as a young person is to try, experience and be involved in as much as you possibly can be.
You’re not going to know what you love, what you’re good at or even what you don’t like without trying and experiencing things first hand! Through experience and ‘tasting” the opportunities that are out there you will not only learn a range of new skills – you will also begin to understand what makes you come alive.
Earlier this year I found myself sitting next to the CEO of SuperBowl XLVII and I asked him the question, when you hire new staff what is the number one thing that you look for? And his response has vividly stuck with me since. Without hesitation he replied that the number one thing he looks for when he hires new staff is that they have tried and experienced many jobs and career directions as it shows they will have an invaluable set of skills that sets them apart.
What are your foundations?
When was the last time that you sat down and looked at your values? Most young people that Burn Bright comes across have never really sat down and evaluated the most fundamental thing that makes them them. Everyone possess a set of values, all of a unique order and priority.
For us to begin and look to find at what passions we want to follow or life direction we’d like to take, we need to look at the things that we hold most dear and of most importance to us.
Your values = your foundation.
Take a look at what makes you angry or frustrated.
The number one question that I was asked when trying to figure out what I was passionate about was, “What are your strengths?”. Whilst I think that question is valuable, I strongly believe that the question we often forget to think about is, What makes you angry or frustrated? What is the thing that makes you think, “Somebody should really do something about that?” or “I could do such a better job at doing that!”.
Not everything that makes you angry or frustrates you is going to be the answer, but looking at the things that evoke emotion can also be incredibly enlightening.
Know there isn’t just one answer.
Research tells us that the average person by the time they reach the age of 40 will have held between 12-15 jobs and I would argue by the time a 2018 school leaver reaches 40 that number could even be higher! We now live in a world where you can make a living by having a Youtube channel talking about jelly beans and that reality has only come around in the last 10 years.
You will experience and have the opportunity to create a life of your choosing, and to know that at any point in time you can change direction with endless opportunities should be freeing! We no longer live in a world where we are completely bound by yesterday’s decisions and that we don’t need to have all the answers by tomorrow.
Try everything that you can. Examine your values. Explore what evokes your emotion. Know that if you mess it all up, you can start all over again.
P.s If you’re reading this to find the golden bullet for finding your passion, remember – the questioning process is far more important than having the answer.