by Peter Ruppert, author of “Limitless: Nine Steps to Launch Your One Extraordinary Life“
The opportunity to spend our lives doing work we love is something most of us dream about. When we envision our brightest future, it involves a life and career built around doing what energizes us and makes us excited to get up in the morning. That’s why finding something we’re passionate about is crucial. It can fuel our vision and help guide our future decisions — both small and large.
I began to see my own passions developing during my college years, when I started a driveway blacktop sealing business. It was hot, sweaty work during Cincinnati summers, but I loved the flexibility of creating a business on my own terms and not having a cap on the money I could earn or the opportunities for growth I could consider.
As I watched my buddies work summer jobs they hated at minimum wage, I knew I wanted something different. I also noticed I was drawn to the idea of creating a business out of nothing to see if I could grow it into something bigger — all while earning the money I needed for college.
Through this experience, I developed a growing passion around the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. I could see myself starting and growing a business one day, and that excited me.
When I share this story, I’m also often asked, “What if I’m not sure what I’m passionate about, or I’m undecided on the kind of career I want?” Whether you’re an entrepreneur finding your way to your passion or you’re simply looking for a career to love, it’s easy to get stuck in the unknowns. You may feel like you can’t move forward until you’ve identified that one thing that will fuel you and drive you toward your future.
My advice is to keep pushing forward with what you do know. Pay attention to the things that energize you. Notice how you feel about each aspect of your work — what you enjoy and what you’d love to never have to do again. Then choose something you feel you can be passionate about at this moment in your life — and set your sights on the first step or two. Remember, it’s always okay to redirect your steps as you go.
The important thing is to simply get started:
1. Start with Step One.
Clarity begins with actually taking action, not just thinking about it. By picking a place to get started and taking your first steps forward, youwill begin to gain the experience that can help inform your vision for the future. Maybe your first step begins with researching careers that interest you, or maybe it starts with a conversation with a mentor. Whatever it is, as long as it’s a step forward, you’re making progress.
2. Aim for success and the opportunities it brings.
Being good at something often creates more opportunities. If you work hard to be successful each day (even if it isn’t in your dream career or job), additional opportunities will likely come your way. As you learn more about your interests, you can also use this time to read and seek out related training opportunities. Life is a continual learning process, and taking the time to discover new things often leads to uncovering interests and passions you may not have considered before.
3. Leverage those opportunities to learn more.
By taking advantage of these opportunities, you can begin to get a sense of what you enjoy and where your most productive interests lie. Let these experiences inform and guide you. Follow your curiosity toward the things that give you the most energy. Don’t worry about getting it exactly right. The point is to begin the process of learning more about yourself.
4. Embrace growth and change.
Remember that your search for a passion is never static: what you’re passionate about will likely grow and change with your life. You might be passionate about something in this season of life, and then find it morphs into something different a few years later. This is a key concept to understand so you don’t lock yourself into thinking you can only have one passion for the rest of your life. It also takes some pressure off if you are feeling the need have to hurry up and find one. Passions will grow and change along with us; expect that to be true and allow for it.
5. Ask others for insight.
Talk to others about what they see in you — what they see as your unique talents, what they envision you doing for a living, or where they see you gaining energy. It’s always helpful to get an outside perspective from those who know you best so you can explore possibilities that might not have occurred to you otherwise.
Finding your passion doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll immediately land in your dream career or business out of the gate. I certainly didn’t. The important thing is to know your work is preparing and developing you to one day reach your dreams. If you can see your early experience as a steppingstone to eventually getting where you want to be, that’s an important part of your journey.
Proactively finding and following a passion is so important: it will ignite your focus on doing the kind of work that truly energizes you, and it will fuel your vision for the future. It will keep you focused and enable you to filter decisions based on your long-term goals — so you gain the courage to remain focused on your passions, not on your fears. As I have learned from my own experience, this can literally change the course of your life.
Peter Ruppert is founder and CEO of Fusion Education Group, which operates over 75 Fusion and Futures Academies for grades 6-12 in one student, one teacher classroom environments. A 20-year veteran of the education industry, he’s opened over 120 schools and acquired more than 25 others. He’s been president and CEO of organizations in the private school, charter school, and early education industries, and sat on his local public school board for 5 years. His new book is “Limitless: Nine Steps to Launch Your One Extraordinary Life“. Learn more at peteruppert.com.