If you've been meaning to channel your long lost passions, or wondering how to find new ones, you came to right place. With so many things to love about life, sometimes its hard to pin-point what you are actually passionate about.
Other times, you may know what your passions are, but simply lose track of them all. Either way, these quirky questions can help you shed light on what exactly sets your soul on fire.
1. What about you would disappoint your 7 year-old self the most?
What did you do as a child that you no longer do?
As a child, I used to write and draw for fun. I barely watched TV, and if it was on it would be background noise as I focused on whatever project I was in the middle of.
Somewhere along the way, I forgot the fun behind creating.
We all tend to lose touch with what we once loved as children. Our inner child dies when we forget how to play.
When we grow up, we learn about the transactional nature of the world, where reward motivates action, and reason to do anything rests in what the compensation is.
If my 7-year-old self asked 21-year-old me why I don't write, draw or paint much anymore, my current self would make up lots of excuses.
I don't feel what I do is good enough, no one would like it, I don't have the materials to work with, and won't get paid for it.
That is when my 7-year-old heart would shatter.
How disappointing it is that I don't do what I have always loved because I have been brainwashed to believe that the only reason to do something is if there is a reward for it. Beyond that, how disappointing it is that I have forgotten how to play.
Without a sense of play, passions would never be born.
2. What makes you lose track of time?
Have you ever been so wrapped up in something that when you finally come up for air, so to speak, you realize you completely forgot to eat…all day? Or you got so into something that it kept you up all night long?
What truly absorbs you, to the point of forgetting that you are a living creature with basic needs like food, water, and sleep? When was the last time you lost track of time? What were you doing?
Personally, writing tends to consume me.
Just the other week, I was in the middle of writing a letter to my grandmother when my roommate told me that dinner was ready.
I responded by saying, "Just a minute," but by the time I was able to put the pencil down, my food was cold. Surely a half hour had passed in that time, but to me, it felt like seconds.
Oh, and I remember in Language Arts class in 6th grade, we had a whole class period for a creative writing assignment. I didn't bat an eye when the bell rang, or when the rest of the class packed up and left, and my teacher had to tell me to wrap it up a few times before she lost her patience and finally barked at me to stop.
I didn't mean to be rude, but it was hard for me to snap back to reality after being enthralled in my writing.
Now, what is the underlying principle behind the activities that engross you? By that I mean besides the actual activity, what are you doing?
For me, writing isn't about merely marking up a paper with little squiggles that mean something. Writing is a reflection of myself on paper. It is a challenge to arrange words originally and meaningfully about something that matters.
Through writing, I am able to explore the way my mind works, what I enjoy thinking about, and how I view the world. I exercise my imagination and inner voice to say whatever it is I want to say.
My writing is always evolving and serves as a measurement of my personal growth. What I enjoy about writing is that it can always be improved upon, and when I write I compete only with myself to do the best that I can in that moment.
Self-improvement not only motivates my writing, but many of my other pursuits like health, fitness, yoga, and learning.
Once you know what makes you lose track of time, ask yourself why, and then apply the answer to other areas in your life.
3. What lights you up?
What ideas excite you? What topics make your ears perk up? What conversations do you want to be a part of? What do you love talking about, reading about, learning about, and teaching others about? What grabs your attention? On the other hand, what absolutely bores you?
Get a feel for your interests and disinterests.
Sometimes I forget what excites me and let me tell you, it is a terrible feeling to lose sight of what lights you up. One way to remind yourself of what drives you sparks your interest, or gets your mind wheels turning is to revisit these questions frequently.
I suggest making a list of these questions and continually add to it in a journal or in notes on your phone.
Then, if you ever feel bored or like your light is dim, you can go through your answers and find an idea to think about, read about, or explore.
There is no time to be bored in a world as wonderful as this.
4. If you were a superhero, and world issues were super-villains, who would be your arch-nemesis?
Think for a second about all of the problems that exist in the world. Just to name a few, there's child abuse, sex trafficking, world hunger, and racial injustice. All of the problems that you can think of are super-villains.
If you were a superhero, who would you want to defeat the most? Which villain's destruction would bring you the most joy? Who would you save the world from, if you could only choose one?
In other words, what world issue bothers you most? What utterly disgusts you? What gets you riled up? What makes you lose your appetite? What do you care about that is bigger than yourself?
OK, now once you've got your mortal enemy in mind, remember you are not actually a superhero, and you cannot fix world issues with your laser beam eyes and super strength alone.
You can, however, be a part of the solution. Find ways to contribute to defeating the enemy, whether it be with your money, time, or voice.
Donate. Raise money. Volunteer. Spread awareness. No one has to fight alone if we can fight together.
Find passion in combating an issue that is bigger than yourself.
5. What struggles are you willing to endure?
What are you willing to do that others are not? Are you willing to put the time in to master the instrument that you love? Can you handle staying up all night and minimizing your social life to study adequately for medical school?
Do you have the mental strength to out-train your opponent? Can you stand the physical pain of working your body to its limits to achieve your dream physique?
The unpleasant experiences you are able to tolerate or enjoy, that others are not, are what set you apart.
This is your competitive advantage. If you want something badly enough, wishing for it simply will not do. You have to work for it.
Let your passions guide you to find what you are willing to struggle for.
6. What if you couldn't spend your days at home?
What if wasting time wasn't an option? How would you spend your days if you had to leave your home for the whole day, every day, and could only come home to sleep? Furthermore, how would you spend your days if, in addition to having to actually do things, social media, television, and video games were nonexistent?
What would you do to fill your time? Make a list, if it helps.
Personally, I would read every book I've ever wanted to read that I haven't gotten around to yet. I would travel and explore places I have never been. I would visit all the national and state parks. I would hike and do yoga every day.
I would start a garden. I would plant trees anywhere and everywhere. I would try to meet more people. I would take dance lessons. I would create more art. I would learn about photography. I'd visit as many museums and historical locations as I could.
I would collect less possessions and more memories.
These are all goals of mine. Imagine what goals you could reach if daily distractions didn't get in the way.
What if I told you that you are the only thing standing in the way between you and your goals. The fact of the matter is that we all have 24 hours in a day, minus about 8 hours for sleep.
So that leaves us with about 16 hours, give or take, to make the most out of each day.
It is not a matter of what you have time for- realistically, we all have time for just about anything. Instead, it is a matter of what you choose to give your time to. If you actually made a list, I want you to go back over your answers, pick something, and go do it.
7. When was the last time you did something for the first time?
If you can't remember, maybe it's time to get out there and do something new. What have you always wanted to try? What curiosities haven't you explored? What is stopping you?
Your passions may be out there waiting for you to discover them. You cannot find passion by thinking about it — you have to act, do and feel.
Oh, and coming from a broke college kid, if everything you want to do costs too much money, think bigger, go broader, and get creative. There is no way you have done all of the things there are to do that don't cost a thing, so go do them. Learn something new from a peer reviewed article online.
Take a free college course online (try the Coursera app). Cook that crazy recipe you shared on Facebook. Take that road trip. Can't afford a hotel? Sleep in your car. Watch a sunset upside down (I've done it).
Figure out what you've never done, then do it.
8. How can you embarrass yourself more?
Embarrassment is the result of putting yourself out there. Before you master something, it is OK to have no idea what you are doing.
It is OK to be the absolute worst violinist to ever exist, because hey, at least you're a violinist — that's more than someone who has always wanted to play the violin but didn't want to be bad at it can say.
For some reason, as we get older, we become so debilitated by the fear of failure or the embarrassment that comes with it that we prevent ourselves from even trying things at all.
How would you learn to ride a bike if you weren't willing to fail a few times at first?
Your favorite famous comedians wouldn't be famous if they didn't stand up on stage and risk being laughed at (as opposed to being laughed with). The greatest gymnasts in the world didn't get where they are by being afraid of falling on their face.
If there is something you want to do, and your excuses for not doing it revolve around the opinions of others, look in the mirror and ask yourself, "Who am I living for?"
If you are being held back out of fear of what others will think, you are robbing yourself the pleasure of living life the way you were born into it, unapologetically.
Do something that scares you. Obviously, you don't have to risk your life or anything, but put yourself out there.
Smile at strangers. Talk to the cute guy or gal at the coffee shop. Ask to pet that dog. Apply for your dream school. Pursue the career you want.
The way I see it, "Oh wells" are a whole lot better than "What ifs," and the only thing you really have to lose by trying something new is the fear that kept you from doing it in the first place.
9. If you knew your death date, how would you live differently?
So, let's say you're going to die. I mean, we all are. And let's say you know when. Now, let's say you want to change your life so you can make the most out of your remaining days alive. What can you change?
Maybe you don't like your major or career path. Switch it. If your friend group brings you down, find a new one. If you waste too much time online, find ways to immerse yourself in reality. If the city you're in just isn't for you, move somewhere new.
But let's say you are dissatisfied with things you can't change, like the fact that you'll be in school an extra year, or that you're working a job that you hate but you have no other option and need the money. OK.
So you know you're going to die, you want to change your life, and you can't change what you're doing right now…but you can change how you're doing it. Perspective is a beautiful thing.
In your life, if you do not like something, you will always have two options: do something else or do it with love. If you don't like what you're doing, stop doing it, and if you can't stop doing it, do it differently.
Shift your perspective. You are not a victim to your circumstances. Things happen for you, not to you.
Here's a challenge: do everything you do every other day, but today, be fully present and do it like you want to do it. Get out of bed like you want to. Brush your teeth like you want to.
Drink water like you want to. Workout like you want to. Smile at your rude coworker like you want to. Drink that smoothie like you want to. Respond to those emails you've been avoiding. Like you want to.
Sure, you can find passion in the things you do. But you can also make it a habit to do everything with passion. Living a life full of passion is the key to loving the life you live.
So, now what?
Well, for starters, go make 7 year-old you proud. Get lost in something you love. Be anything but bored. Give your arch-nemesis, World Hunger, a good kick in the pants. Struggle it out. Leave the house more than once a week. Do something new for a change. Risk it (embarrassment) for the biscuit.
And lastly, do what you love, or at the bare minimum, love what you do.
I'll be doing the same.