How to find a passion project that will make you happy

<p>You DO have a passion... perhaps even a destiny(!)... but you might need some help finding yours, or settling on just one. Here are some tips to help you out.</p>

Hey! I know you have a passion inside you, but maybe you’re struggling finding yours… or maybe you’re trying to find the right one. 

Here are some tips on how to find a passion that will make you happy.

How to find a passion project that will make you happy

I keep saying destiny because a) it makes this sound super majestic, and b) I’m convinced that each of us, every single one, has something inside us that we’re slated to do. Whether or not we do it is another story. I want your story to be a success, and so we need to make sure you know what the hell you’re doing.

So, let’s get down to business. PRIORITIES. Yes, an adult word. Almost as bad as another adult word: responsibilities.

Priorities are important things, and it took me way too long to figure out what mine really were. I’ve always had an idea of what I wanted out of life, but I struggled with defining that idea into something concrete and clear enough to actually work for.

One of the easiest traps to fall into is confusing goals with priorities.

  • Goals: Things you want to get done
    • Lose weight, eat better, get a raise, run a marathon
    • Priorities: Things you need to get done to be the person you’re meant to be
      • Extra special goals that drive you towards completing your Magnum Opus (destiny!)
      • E.g.: A singer-songwriter’s priorities might include writing an album’s worth of music, recording the album on a shoestring budget, landing some local gigs, getting her album in front of Jay-Z, etc.

In the past, I’d have a list of goals I went through haphazardly. I wanted to learn how to beatbox and it was quicker than writing a novel, so I focused on that first instead of working on the novel. Even though being a novelist is my Magnum Opus.

It was bad prioritizing.


But I know you. You’re a dreamer and you’ve got thousands of dreams that will save the world and your own soul at the same time.

You don’t know how to choose, what to do first, what to drop altogether. 

It’s okay, my love. Ask yourself these questions and we’ll get you sorted out.

1. Who am I right now?

Be a modern Leona da Vinci, ladies. Men, you can be Leonardos, but don’t expect any Oscars.

Who you are at this moment can show you what you’ve already achieved, and what you’ve focused on in the past.

I could tell you about me to get you started:

  • I’m the point person for an entire department’s sponsored research: the proposals, the budgets, the day-to-day, and the surprises.
  • I’m a blogger starting out on a public platform that has my real name attached to it (scary!) after having blogged only to a select group of friends on Livejournal for over 10 years. I’ve got great friends there and I’m excited to make great friends here, too. 🙂
  • I’m an aspiring novelist. I’ve written over 1,000,000 words of fiction and published none of them — yet! My Magnum Opus is to publish my work and share it with the world.
  • I’m a certified P.M.P. and I’m confused about the next step in my 9-5 career.
  • I’m in a great relationship with someone who has a lot of student debt, and that worries me.
  • I’m someone who’s paid over half of my student debt off and is feeling the exhaustion of keeping on when I’d really just love to buy a house and go all HGTV on it.

This is part of who I am right now.

Who are you?

Write it down. Don’t worry about whether it’s good or bad information, just write. Keep writing until you can’t think of anything else that currently defines you. When you’re done, read it over. You’ll be surprised by the themes you find.

And more importantly: you should have an idea of both who you are, and what you want to be (hint: Step #2!).

2. Who do I want to be?

What parts of your “Who am I?” list were… unfinished? In progress? A struggle to think about?

Write them out again without the “aspiring,” hopeful,” “trying” qualifiers. Those are bullshit words. Put some oomph into this because it’s you. It’s your dream. You deserve oomph.

What do you want?

Is it any of these? Is it something else? Make a list.

  • I want to get signed to a recording major label.
  • I want to overcome my debilitating fear of escalators.
  • I want to sell a novel that readers everywhere can’t put down.
  • I want to be 100% free of student loans and other debt.
  • I want to have a beach house I can escape to to work on my creative biz.
  • I want to be confident in my career.
  • I want to quit my job and work for myself, making 6+ figures.

These are the things you want to strive for, and they’re a good indicator of the kind of person you want to be. This list might not (blatantly) show you your Magnum Opus, but if you take the time to be complete and honest with yourself, your Magnum Opus will be hidden in here somewhere.

Did you say that you want to be both a successful business owner and help the poor? Your Magnum Opus might be to create a business that’s strong enough to support your family and give 20% of its profits to local shelters.

Sometimes our Magnum Opuses are hidden in the multitude. This is why you need to see everything you want, all together, in one spot.

3. How do I want to be known?

While I don’t promote basing your life on how other people perceive you, I do think there is value in thinking about it.

Our desire to be perceived a certain way is a good indicator to what we want to achieve.

It can be a very intimate, very enlightening look into our psyches. And it can be hard to do because it requires a level of honesty with ourselves that can be painful or stressful, especially if we don’t feel like we’re making the progress we need to make.

It’s also really private. Here’s a deep look at me — one that was really hard to type out, especially publicly:

I want to be known as a novelist, and as someone who helps people overcome the same overwhelm, frustration, and anxiety that ruled so many years of my own life. I want to make a difference with my words, and understanding that has led me to truly understand what my Magnum Opus is, and how to fulfill it: writing novels and this blog.

The things you put on this list may be items you’ve already achieved and want to support — like if you’re already a novelist and you want to sell more of your books — or they may be things you’re still working towards.

List out all the things you can think of: How do you want people to see you?

You don’t have to share this with anyone else, so be as honest with yourself as you can. Make sure you aren’t cheating yourself by leaving something out that needs to be there just because you’re afraid or ashamed or nervous about writing it down.

NOTE: Now, all that being said: really, truly, try not to give too many fucks about other people’s’ opinions of you, unless they are truly areas that are blind spots for you. In that case, listen to the opinions, evaluate them, maybe get a neutral third party to evaluate them, too, and then decide what, if anything, you will do about those opinions.

You don’t owe anyone shit, except yourself.

You really just can’t live your life worrying about other people.

4. When I think of my perfect life, what’s in it?

A quick trip to your Pinterest boards should give you a good start here. 😉

Imagine a mood board of your life. What’s in it?

Guess what: Write it down.

Some examples to get you started:

  • Rave reviews for your new gallery opening, every time you have a new gallery opening
  • Healthy
  • Happy
  • In a good relationship or happy single
  • Free of debts
  • Enjoying your work, whatever you choose that to be
  • Achieving great things with your career
  • Living part of the year in another country, just because
  • Traveling once a month
  • Close relationships with family, including extended family
  • A simpler life, free of mental and physical clutter
  • A glamorous life
  • Seeing your team play a great game

Your Utopia: What does it look like? Who’s in it? What’s in it?

More importantly: what isn’t in it?

See also: A post I love, Why Simple Living Lets You Be a Better Artist via House of Muses (another soulful biz babe!)

5. What inspires me to work?

Personally, I’m largely motivated by achievement. It’s the Slyther-claw in me. I like getting things done. It energizes me and makes me dance-around happy.

Goals, therefore, inspire me to work. The prospect of achieving goals inspires me to work. When I think about succeeding with my Magnum Opus, I can work all night.

But you’re you. What goals inspire you? When are you are most productive? How do you feel when you’re most productive? Yours might include:

  • When you have clear ideas of your Magnum Opus
  • When all of your tools and resources available and ready
  • When you have a clear understanding of what needs to be done
  • When you can’t stop researching your work because you love it so much

You should also ask yourself what you need to be productive.

For me, I need sleep. A lot of it. Eight hours minimum to be at my peak performance, 6 to be human. It’s also great if a personal crisis didn’t come up the night before – one of those can throw me off for a whole day, sometimes a week if it’s a big one.

I know you can’t always help it, but do your best to keep your environment at the optimal operating setting. That could include:

  • A light at the end of the tunnel
  • Adequate sleep
  • Not hangry
  • Family is not acting a fool
  • Toilet not overflowing
  • Apartment clean and clutter-free
  • A “work” buddy to chat with

Combine your motivators with the things you need to be at your best. This is the state you’ll want to be in as often as possible to get the best work done on your Magnum Opus.

Are you ready to pinpoint your Magnum Opus yet?

You should have 5 lists now. Those 5 lists should begin to show a theme of your life. The topics that keep coming up are the topics that will most likely be part of your Magnum Opus.

The only thing left is to clarify those topics into defined things: Who I am, and who I want to be. Try writing your final Magnum Opus out that way:

  • My Magnum Opus is to take my passion hobby and turn it into a six-figure business that supports my family and the less fortunate.
  • My Magnum Opus is to be a published novelist who is the favorite of many readers for years to come.
  • My Magnum Opus is to be an industry expert in my field, with a clear career development path, who is known and sought after in her industry.
  • My Magnum Opus is to be free of all debts and use my experiences and the things I learn along the way to help other college graduates avoid the pitfalls I fell into.

Now you! What’s yours going to be?

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