Jack is a volunteer at the CCNY Archives. Before retiring, he worked at IBM for over 28 years. His articles have over 120,000 views.
When I was young, I was told find your passion and go pursue it. That is the secret to happiness. Being told something and doing it are two different things. How does one go about finding one’s passion? If you are lucky enough to find passion in your work, you have hit the jackpot. Most people never get that? They have a job, or even a career which pays the bills. To do something you love and getting paid to do it is rare. Here are some ideas to help.
- Aug. 2018
Let me approach this from three angles. First, I will cite some examples of people with passion. Second, I will give you my own passions and how I came across them. Finally, an instruction guideline for anyone to find their passion regardless what point in your life.
As I mentioned in the introduction, some people found passion in their work. These are mostly artists, actors, musicians and adventurers and doctors and activists of all sorts. For the majority of us, we just have a job or career where we make a living and receive a paycheck and go about our lives. Therefore, we need to find our passion elsewhere. Some like to travel, some have unique hobbies, some do arts and crafts, some like to cook...or gardening... Of course, sports is a big part of this. Americans are obsessed about baseball and football and basketball. Not only watching professional sports, but participating in leagues or just fooling around in driveways or backyards and local parks. Others find volunteering a great amount of satisfaction.
This leads to the question - what makes it a passion? My idea is simple. It is a passion when you want to engage in the activity anytime, anywhere and for a long period. You never get tired of it. A second criteria is that it is something you can do on your own. You enjoy doing it and may be quite good at it. For example, you might be a teacher as a profession, and you love to sing, and yet you are not good enough to be a professional singer and yet you may participate in local theater productions. You will go to a karaoke bar and sing all night. That is passion.
My Own Experience...
I am 66 years old. My passions are playing the harmonica, fencing, reading, photography and travel, writing and volunteering. Notice it is OK to have more than one passion.
When I was about 5 years old, an aunt of my came to our house and gave me a small harmonica as a gift. She taught me the basics and how to play a few notes. From then on, I was hooked. I did not take any lessons or receive any formal training. I just learned it by playing. It became a challenge. I would try to play songs that I like or popular songs at the time. I don’t even read music. To this day, I can pick up a harmonica and start playing whatever comes to my mind. I still make mistakes but that is fine. I play for my own enjoyment and not to perform for others. That takes the pressure off.
When I started college, I was expected to take a Physical Ed class as part of my curriculum. I chose fencing not knowing what to expect. After a few basic lessions, I was asked by the instructor to tryout for the JV Fencing team. I made the team and the rest is history. I went on to the Varsity team and was one of the top competitors in my school. I was inducted to the Hall of Fame years later. I continued to fence on and off over the next 40 years and have recently got back to fencing, not to compete but just for the exercise.
I always loved books. One of my past time is to browse book stores or antique stores in the book section. I look for unique items that is well illustrated. I love art books and history books. I think you can learn so much by reading. I don’t read from cover to cover. I tend to browse the table of contents and look for chapters of interest. I would flip though the pages and stop and read a paragraph or two...If it is really interesting, I may buy it and take home to browse. After retirement, I also spend time at our local library. Instead of buy a book, I tend to borrow it and read it and return it for another few books. It is free and I don’t have to read all of it.
Photography was always a fascination for me. When I was a teenager, I had a Kodak brownie camera. I would take photos of family members and vacation spots. In college, I upgraded to a SLR camera and took pictures wherever I went. Later on, while working at IBM, I joined an imaging group working on high resolution capture. I got involved with digital imaging and image processing. When the digital camera came on to the scene, I was one of the first to get one. They were not very good in terms of quality but the attraction of instant results was a definite plus. Over time, digital imaging improved and now dominate the photographic industry. I still take my digital camera with me every where I go. I am on my 4th generation camera. In addition, I take many photos on my iPhone. The convenience is so tempting. In a few seconds, I can take a photo and share it on FaceBook.
I was very fortunate to have a job that required lots of travel. I have been to many countries and cities and visited some of the top museums and libraries. It combined some of the elements of my passions. Books, libraries, preservation, arts and history. Now that I have retired, I can travel for pleasure. I can explore places and stay longer to experience the local customs and cultures. I write about my travel experiences in a blog on HubPages.
Writing and publishing is my sixth passion. So far, I have written over 500 articles on HubPages.
My last is volunteering. It is somewhat related to my other passions. About 15 years ago, I decided to volunteer at my local archives. They needed some help digitizing old photographs in their collection. It had a few elements I was interested at and in fact I have some skills in. I like photography, and preservation and digital imaging. I also like history which is a big part of archives. It is preserving our past for future generations. My volunteer work is actually very tedious. It is not something you want to do for hours at a time. I only volunteer two hours a week. For the past 15 years, I have helped the local Westchester County Archives digitize approx. 15,000 photographs. The greater purpose is what drives me.
How Does One Find One’s Passion?
Here are some simple steps.
1. Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle.
On one side list the things you are good at...your skills...
On the other side list the items you enjoy doing...
2. Keep an open mind. There are many things we have not been in contact with. Browse books, magazines and historical events and look for odd things to try and add to the list.
3. Make an effort to try out each items on your list. Don’t give up so quickly. Give it a chance. It may take two or three tries to stick.
4. Once you have identify your top 3 or 5 items, go after it. When you are tired or depressed or under stress, that is the time to test it out. Is this the real thing? If it is, you will enjoy doing it. If it is a chore, then, it may not be your passion after all.
Here are a few ideas to try...
1. Take a class on dancing.
2. Try yoga exercise.
3. Volunteer at your church choir.
4. Join a bike club or hike club.
5. Go on an adventure tour - like National Geographics tours.
Passion and Obsession/Addiction
Many of the attributes of passions and obsessions are shared. There is one important difference. Passions are activities that is good for you and you can chooses to stop at any time. Obssessions like gambling and video gaming and pornography are the opposite. They are harmful to you and your well being and it is something you may not have control over. If you want to stop and can’t then it is not a passion but an obsession and you may need professional help.
Finding your own passion and pursuing it is the most satisfying part of life. Now, go do it. Don’t forget, it is OK to fail. There may be more than one and it is also OK to change your mind. We go through our lives in stages. There may be different passions in us at different stages of our lives. One that persist through out your life is probably your strongest.
© 2018 Jack Lee