Recently I visited a local aquarium with my two young kids. While trying to keep an eye on my children as they screamed and ran back and forth in front of the sea lion exhibit, I noticed a young woman standing near us. There was something so peaceful about how she was observing the mammals.

As I imparted my expert wisdom to my kids about the sea lions, the woman spoke up and politely said, “actually, those aren’t sea lions. They’re seals. You can tell by their short front flippers. Sea lions have longer flippers.”

I replied, “Oh wow, you must work here. That’s impressive that you know so much about seals!” She smiled and replied, “No, I don’t work here, actually. I just come here and watch the seals. Every chance I get. They amaze me.”

But what was truly amazing to me was that this woman had so much curiosity and passion for seals that she was perfectly content to stand and observe them for long periods of time. Even with noisy kids running around.

So of course I put my career coaching hat on and asked her if she ever thought about volunteering for the aquarium. She responded that she had thought about it, but she was just happy to come and watch the seals. She said it always brightened her week.

When I ask clients about their passions, many do not have an answer. Or if they do, they have no clue how to incorporate their passions into their lives. A common response is “I’ve always wanted to (fill in the blank), but I’m too scared.” Some clients say they are too busy to pursue passions. Many are terrified of failure.

Regardless of where you might fall on the spectrum, read below for some simple tips and strategies for getting in touch with and / or incorporating your passions into your daily life:

If you are feeling passion-less, try thinking about a time in your life when you were truly happy.

  • What about when you were a kid? Reflecting back to childhood can be helpful because it’s one of the rare times in life when you have few responsibilities and can just have fun.
  • What types of activities did you enjoy? For me personally, I can remember writing poems and telling stories beginning when I was only six years old. It was something that came naturally to me and that I enjoyed. And it’s been a common thread throughout my life.

Finding and / or getting in touch with your passions does not mean giving up or changing other areas of your life.

  • For example, if you’re a horse enthusiast I’m not necessarily suggesting you quit your day job and move to a ranch in Montana and become a horse-whisperer. Like my friend at the aquarium, maybe simply spending an hour or so per week pursuing your passion(s) is enough. Before taking a giant leap off the diving platform, try easing your way in.
  • For example, let’s say you have a passion for drawing. What about taking a beginning drawing course? These days there are many online courses offered, making it easier and more affordable than ever to pursue passions and interests. You can also join a group for artists, either online or in-person, or both. Through platforms like Meet-Up, as well as Facebook and LinkedIn groups, it’s easy to get connected with other people who share similar interests and passions.

If you don’t think you have time to pursue your passions, try sitting down and reflecting on your daily and weekly routine.

Again, you don’t have to make a major change. Start small. Do you have an extra 10-15 minutes you can devote per day, or every other day, to doing something you love? I am a morning person, so I try to wake up every morning before my family and write for 30 minutes. The house is quiet, I have my cup of coffee, and it’s a magical time of day for me. It doesn’t happen every morning, but I try to make time when I can.

If you are scared to try something new, ask yourself what is worst that could happen?

Maybe you won’t like it. You might not be good at it. Perhaps you’ll love it but won’t make any money doing it. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

Think about it this way, if you try, at least you know. If you don’t try, you will always be left wondering, what if?

Passions can be pursued in or outside of your paid job.

I have coached clients who are perfectly happy working in a job that they are not necessarily passionate about, but it pays well and they have a flexible schedule which allows them to pursue their passions outside of work. Other people want and need to feel passionate about what they do for a living. There is no right or wrong.

Try picturing your “ideal day on the job.”

If you are considering a job or career change, what does it look like? What environment are you working in? A large company, or a smaller organization or start-up? Or maybe you’re working for yourself from your home office. Which type of schedule do you work? Does your routine change every day, or do you work more of a typical 9-5 Monday through Friday schedule? Do you work with or around people, or mostly by yourself?

Are you finding and living your passion? Is it in or outside of your paid job, or both?

Leave a comment below and /or join The Career Counter Facebook group, “The Career Counter Club,” to share your career struggles and successes. We’d love to hear from you!