How to Find Your Thing, When You’re Good at a Lot of Things

Struggling to find your passion? These 3 keys will guide you

Herbert Lui

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Photo: Denys Nevozhai/ Unsplash

When I was growing up, my parents would describe me as a “generalist.” They didn’t mean it in a bad way — they were too! — though it also meant it wasn’t so obvious where my career would go, or what my skills were. I could develop my skills at most things I tried to do, especially with practice.

One of the challenges of being a generalist, of course, is the optionality; there are so many things you could do, so it becomes very difficult to stick with one. By contrast, if you’re a specialist, you have no choice — you clearly excel at a few specific things, and you learn to appreciate it.

The one thing

When I hear questions like, “How do I find my passion?” or “How did you know you’d become a writer?” I can empathize. I faced this challenge myself.

Pedantically speaking, passion is an emotion that comes and goes; when a person uses the word “passion,” they usually mean finding something — a field, a line of work, a craft — that they feel really excited by and that they can excel at. There are some starting points for that:

  • Look around you, at the objects, you love. For me, I loved books and stationary, so I naturally gravitated towards writing. I’m also naturally drawn to drawing, art, illustration, and graphic design.
  • Look back at what you were doing for fun in your childhood years, between the ages of 8–14; author Robert Greene describes this more as “primal inclinations.
  • Try a lot of things, and see how you feel after. You may want to become a singer, but do you love writing songs, or practicing your instrument? Wanting to be the person who does the thing isn’t enough; you actually need to love doing the thing too. Try a daily challenge and see how you feel at the end of doing the same thing for 100 days; I recently started writing every day again, which only affirmed how much I…

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Herbert Lui

Covering the psychology of creative work for content creators, professionals, hobbyists, and independents. Author of Creative Doing: https://www.holloway.com/cd