Help! I am not sure if I am doing the right thing! How to find my passion?

Q: I can’t seem to focus on my work. I do not feel motivated.

Hello! Lack of focus can be due to a variety of factors, e.g. new environment, other background stresses in your life, mood disturbances etc. But sometimes, it may be partly due to the fact that what you are doing is something you do not feel interested in. One of the initial steps to take in this process is to ask yourself what are the reasons you are engaging in your current work/goal. Many a times we may be doing some work because of external pressures/expectations/lack of better opportunities etc. and hence we do not feel very engaged.

Of course, working at something we really deeply enjoy and what we are good at is mentally rewarding and fulfilling and it helps to find such opportunities. But even if we find ourselves in a situation which falls short of this ideal and yet we need to keep doing it, at least temporarily- it would help to identify YOUR OWN reasons for doing that work at a given point of time rather than merely focusing on and fretting/fuming about the external pressures as reasons for doing something. Owning up your goals / personal reasons can help you to sustain motivation. Moreover, reminding yourself of the connection between what you are doing currently and your longer- term goal can be a helpful strategy.

Or, you might say that the current work is something you yourself wanted to do earlier, but now feel bored. If this is true, do you think currently your skills are at a higher level than the demands of your current work? Perhaps, you have done it for some time and learned it so well that it doesn’t challenge you enough now and thus your interest has waned over time. In that case, can you proactively explore some additional opportunities related to you work-task or create a challenge for yourself in some ways with reference to your work (e.g. figuring out a new and more efficient way of doing something)?

Q. I am not sure if it is the right thing for me. How do I find my passion & purpose?

To find your areas of strengths, observe yourself across situations and make a list of all the things you love doing /situations you love tackling AND you perform them relatively well. Be open to explore on a trial-basis the possibilities and potentials that you have not explored, without jeopardizing your current responsibilities. Try spending time engaging in some of these activities from your list. Hone your skills around your areas of strengths. Do not hold yourself to one, you might find that your passion lies in more than one area and that you can bring them together in your work. It might also help you to focus on how much you enjoy learning more about these interests, doing it better, getting an opportunity to express your strength, as you go. Discovering your strengths and finding new ways to apply them in your day to day life can be a tremendous source of energy, productivity and well-being. Life becomes meaningful and we experience a sense of purpose when we apply our strengths in activities/engagements which express our core values. So do spend some time reflecting on what you deeply value in life!

Stories of some people suggest that sometimes when due to various circumstances, they have not been able to find paid work that is completely in tune with their passion, they have been able to create a balance – wherein they are able to invest time in what they are passionate about while continuing to engage in work that meets their other needs.

Lastly, please remember that when you take up some work/job, all parts of the work may not be equally enjoyable. Expecting that every single task that you have to carry out at work should be enjoyable may not be realistic and such an expectation can increase your frustration and stress!

Expert: Dr Jyotsna Agrawal

Assistant Professor of Positive Psychology

Dept. of Clinical Psychology

NIMHANS, Bangalore