This article is part of a five part series on finding your career calling and discovering the five paths to your perfect job. To start this series from the beginning, read the introduction.

The first step on the path to job perfection is finding the pathway to your passion. What do you like? What do you dream? What makes you tick? I’ve never been one to write about “touchy feely” questions, but I think getting in touch with one’s passion is of great importance. This importance is paramount since I believe job hunters fail to find their perfect job not because they lack information about the job market, but because they lack information about themselves.

In preparing this post I realize many have tackled this topic before. I think others have made finding one’s passion painfully difficult though. Some suggest you climb mountains and contort yourself into yoga positions, others want you to visit a beach and yell into the ocean, and some suggest writing until you cry.

Finding one’s passion shouldn’t cause tears or tie you into a pretzel. I don’t think you need to reach higher altitudes to discover what elevates your heart rate. Finding one’s passion just takes some honesty and thoughtfulness. Honesty and thoughtfulness can be achieved below base camp, far from the ocean, and without pretzelizing positions.

Job Perfection Series:
  1. Find Your Passion
  2. Spot Your Strengths
  3. Gather Your Goals
  4. Nurture Your Network
  5. Enhance Your Education

To find your career calling, try exploring these five pathways to your passion:

1. Take a Hike

Don’t laugh. I’m serious. Lace up some comfy shoes, pull on a pullover, and belt up some bottoms cause I want you to walk away from the computer and take a hike. Getting a little fresh air and some exercise can really help to relax the brain and stimulate the creative mind. There’s no sense reading any further until you’ve worked out some nervous tension. Now go and enjoy the fresh air experience!

2. Ponder Your Passion: A Worksheet

It’s time to be honest and thoughtful by answering a series of important questions and pondering some poignant points. These questions can be found below in this post or downloaded in a document called the Passion Worksheet. Don’t worry, the worksheet isn’t pervy or anything. Keep a copy of your answers in a folder or booklet for later.

Download Worksheet: passion_worksheet.pdf

Five Points to Ponder:

Before answering the questions in the worksheet, be sure to ponder the following five points. Keeping these points in mind can help you to truly find your passion.

1. Be specific: Try not to generalize your responses. Do try to narrow your focus. For example: “I love programming” is general, while “I love programming in the PHP language” is more specific.

2. Be honest: Truthfully write what first comes to mind.

3. Be silly: Feel free to write something that seems silly or weird. Sometimes, the seemingly strange can actually be your passionate path. One of my loves is racing my bike uphill! I once landed a paid gig writing about the benefits of riding a bike uphill. So be silly or strange, you never know where the money will flow!

4. Be yourself: Only think of yourself during this exercise. Focus on what makes YOU and only YOU happy. It doesn’t matter what your parents want, or what you think other people want. Answering these questions is all about what makes YOU tick.

5. Be real: Feel free to look outside past careers and write stuff from sports, hobbies, pastimes, or musings. Your passion may be what you play, rather than what you work.

Five Questions to Query:

Answer the following questions using the “Five Points to Ponder”. This is not an easy task. I find answering some of these questions really tough, but very worthwhile.

1. What makes you happy and brings you joy?

2. What gives you the greatest sense of excitement, makes you feel alive, and motivates you?

3. What do you look forward to?

4. What brings you great satisfaction?

5. What scares, terrifies, and causes you the greatest grief?

Why a scary question? There is value in knowing what you don’t like. Knowing what causes you grief can sometimes help you find the opposite, what you love. On the other hand, listing what you dislike can highlight growth opportunities. In my case, I have a fear of public speaking. To face my fear I joined Toastmasters and have grown immensely as a result.

3. Create a Visual Guide

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Take the words you wrote down from Ponder Your Passion, and build your own picture. Find a stack of new and old newspapers and magazines. It doesn’t matter the content, although it’s likely you only subscribe to subjects of paramount interest to you. Tear into those periodicals with your dreams in mind. Cut out all magazine pictures, stories, or even advertisements you find appealing or interesting. Be sure to respond to the images spontaneously and without too much thought or judgment. The idea is to create possible scenarios and build a visual guide with a clear picture of your passion.

Glue all cutouts into a scrapbook. The resulting collage is an illustration of the life you are trying to create. When building a visual guide you are actually imaging the future. Visualizing your dreams can save a lot of time and grief by giving yourself the time to visualize dreams and passions before attempting them in the real world. After visualizing and creating a guide, you may start to feel an impulse to go from dreaming about the possibilities to planning a course of action.

4. Start Over

Be willing to start over. If you feel unsettled with the words written in your Passion Worksheet or unimpressed with the images in your Visual Guide, feel free to start over. Sometimes things just don’t work out in the first pass. Don’t fret! I’ve been through this exercise a few times before I finally got honest with myself and put my true words and images together. Go back to Take a Hike and start fresh. Experiment, dream, and build. Everyday is a new beginning.

5. Build a Book

You are the author. You are the star of this book tour. Put your worksheets and visual guide together in a scrapbook. It doesn’t have to be pretty, presentable, or perfect. The purpose behind this book is to build a personal portfolio of you. To be successful in finding a new career or landing the perfect job you need information about yourself. You will need this book over the next few days as we continue to build on your career calling.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment of Your Career is Calling: Five Paths to Job Perfection.