Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your lie.
Career experts debate whether this adage is great advice for charting a professional path, but the question then becomes: What am I passionate about?
Whether your goal is to find a career that excites you or to enrich your life with a hobby, identifying a passion is a natural inclination. In several studies researchers have found that passion is a critical component of psychological well-being, goal-accomplishing and effective leadership.
Related: 3 Ways to Discover Your True Passion
Ask yourself these questions to determine what invigorates you.
What interested you when you were young?
Manon DeFelice, founder of Ink Well, a recruiting agency that helps high-powered women stay in or re-enter the workforce, asks clients, “What was the topic of your high school senior thesis?” The answer often surprises people with the precision with which it points to a current passion.
What causes do you care about?
Chris Dorsey, profiled right, was passionate about environmental conservation from an early age. He used that enthusiasm to create what would become one of the biggest reality-TV production companies, with a mission to support the outdoors and conservation. “It’s remarkable how the more I give to conservation organizations, the more good things happen to me and my company,” Dorsey says. “That has happened too many times to be coincidence.”
Do something scary.
Feeling stuck, unmotivated and unsure about how to reignite your sense of wonder? Take a risk and scare the heck out of yourself. Always considered yourself a klutz? Join a recreational sports team. Terrified of public speaking? Take an improv class. Jolt your psyche to a place it has never gone.
Take money out of the equation.
If you suffer from paralysis under the pressure of finding your moneymaking passion, take the money part out and focus on the zeal you feel for the activity.
Passion is a critical component of psychological well-being.
46; Brooklyn, New York; owner of Dynamic Solutions, offering pediatric physical and occupational therapy for children with special-needs
As a teenager, I found my passion for children with disabilities through volunteer work. I was very determined and worked hard to become a physical therapist. After working for other businesses for years, I realized I could make more money if I were self-employed. As my practice grew, first from bartered space in a pediatrician’s office to a rented space, then to my own space, I realized I loved building a business, entrepreneurship, mentoring other therapists and making money. My business has since grown to two locations and employs 12 therapists. My passion for the kids was always there, but my passion for business was realized as my company grew. Success drives more success. Leading other young therapists to excel and provide great therapy fed something within me that my patients did not.
28; Miami; personal-finance writer, business coach and millennial money expert
Because I struggled with math throughout my life, I always assumed I was bad at managing money. After college, I worked as a recruiter and then faced a downturned economy while living in an expensive city. I knew I would live a life of debt if I didn’t educate myself about personal finance. I started blogging about money as a way to hold myself publicly accountable for learning about and managing my finances. Several years into my journey, I self-published a book, Make Money Your Honey: A Spirited Entrepreneur’s Guide to Having a Love Affair with Work and Money, and it became a best-seller. The reader response was incredible. It wasn’t until then when I knew that not only was I good at writing about finance, but that it was my true passion. That unleashed my obsession with how money makes people tick. I read every book I could find and even interviewed strangers I met at parties. I just couldn’t help myself. I was just trying to save myself, and my passion found me and turned into my career.
51; Denver; founder of Dorsey Pictures and creator of more than 40 TV series focused on the outdoors
Growing up in rural Wisconsin, the outdoors was important to my family, so was storytelling. As the youngest of nine kids, I grew up listening to stories of older people around me. As someone who is passionate about the outdoors and conservation, and as an English and biology student at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I started writing for local and state newspapers about outdoor adventure. I learned how media can influence people to make the right decisions. This grew into first a career in sportsman publications and then into Dorsey Pictures, which is committed to quality programing about the outdoors. My success there led to involvement with conservation organizations, which, when paired with our programming, can make a big difference for causes I care about. For example, after a series we created about the fragility of saltwater flats, the Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s membership grew 300 percent and fundraising grew by 150 percent.
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Emma Johnson is a business journalist, gender-equality activist, and founder of the world's largest community of single moms, WealthySingleMommy.com. Emma and her best-selling book, The Kickass Single Mom, and her organization, Moms for Shared Parenting, have been featured in hundreds of national and international media outlets.