It’s the question every 16-22-year-old is asked. Every holiday, every time you grab coffee with a friend, every time you run into someone you haven’t seen in awhile. It’s probably at the top of your mind way more than you’d care to admit. It’s the dreadful darkness we all know and love while lying awake at night. “Why am I even taking this class?” “What does this have to do with my life?” ”Did I say ‘here’ right during attendance?"
When you think about it, 16-22 is a ridiculous stage of life to know what you want to do with the rest of the 80 years. What have you been exposed to over that past 20 years that makes you positive you only want to do that one thing and nothing else?
The problem is that college directly follows high school and we’re rushed into it without a clue of all that is available to us or how the rest of the world operates. Then we’re told to pick a major after only doing basic school subjects for the past 12 years. Then we’re expected to follow through with that major and get a job in that area and do it for the rest of our life, all without ever leaving the country, let alone the state for some. How could you possibly make such a big decision with such little exposure to the rest of the world and experience available?
So you don’t know what you want to do with your life? Here’s something I wish was said more: “That’s completely acceptable!”
But how do you find your passion? Here’s how:
1. Don’t follow your passion
The first step is to not follow your current passion. It’s not that your current passion isn’t amazing, It’s just that choosing it now so early in life will limit you from everything else. Most lawyers and accountants aren’t passionate about what they do. They didn’t pick their first passion. They’re passionate about being the best at what they do and I’m sure the money doesn’t hurt either.
2. Try different things
The best thing I believe you can do with your twenties is to take risks on different things. Think about this…you could completely screw up your twenties, from age 20-29 you could just make wrong decision after wrong decision and you would still recover just fine. These are the ideal years to take risks, big risks. You have almost no liabilities, no family to provide for, and no one needing you to succeed at this point in your life. The consequences are as small as possible and the potential for success are as big as possible.
Because think about it, if after failure after failure you come back to the thing you were already passionate about you will have that much more assurance of it. You won’t spend time thinking “what if?” therefore, you’ll have even more time and energy to pour into that one thing. You’ll be unstoppable.
3. Be a sponge
I hope to look back on my twenties and see that I was a sponge. I’m not trying to be a Zuckerberg or Jobs, I’m trying to be a sponge. I’m trying to soak up everything I can while I’m young so that when I do finally launch my career I’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
This includes not just learning, but experiences as well. And hey, if I can get paid to follow an executive around and watch what he does, all the better. That’s why it’s not always bad to take a pay cut if the value of what you can learn is greater. The younger you are the more valuable knowledge and experience are, becuase you have more opportunity to use them.
The problem most people have is they don’t think this longterm. They want the dream job now, they want to be on the front of Time Magazine by the age of 25. They say no to perfectly good opportunities that would put them in an incredible position at the age of 30, all because they want to be in that position at the age of 22.
4. So you found your passion
You're 29, Trump is no longer president, bitcoin crashed and you’re now rereading the article that changed your life, this article. You’re vastly different than you were at 20 and you're certain you've found your passion. Now ask, “Can I generate money doing this?”. You obviously have to pay bills and/or provide for other people. Luckily, most passions can be marketed, some better than others. For the uncommon ones, usually it just takes being really really good at it. Can you do that? Well then let’s do it.