Maybe instead of searching to find what would we do everyday if we could, what would excite us enough to “jump” out of bed, we should be evaluating something different. Maybe the questions we should start with are better directed at unearthing our values first, rather than our passions. What would we do everyday if we had a week or month left to live? What would we think as we look back? How would we spend our time?
I asked myself this question, If it were my last week on earth, would I go to that job? Might I realize that I haphazardly neglected other things that were very important to me? Would I feel like I lived a meaningful life? How would I spend that last week?
Just because my psychological needs were fulfilled by my job , it didn’t necessarily mean I was engaged with what I really valued. I felt like I had purpose (working gave me a comfortable level of psychological fulfillment, so I repeatedly went). Though I did experience purpose, I may not necessarily have been living what I would have considered a meaningful life. (Perhaps time helping the poor, networking, writing, connecting with people and exploring countless opportunities were things I actually valued more than my job, but neglected.)
Thus, passion can relate to purpose, but purpose can be tricky. It’s fulfilling. Sometimes that fulfillment put me to sleep: I got comfortable and felt pleasurable. I stopped looking deeper. I stopped seeking, because I felt purpose. However, a mindful look at values was in order. Living in accordance with your deepest values is something that really gives you meaning, the type that allows you to look back without regret, seize the present, and have enthusiasm for the future.
I uncovered what I really valued, spent my time and constructed my life in accordance with those values, I probably felt a sense of purpose in doing so. I discovered some harmonious passions that reflect my values along the way (though I may have given hem up if they later conflict with them). I invested time and effort learning how to get my psychological needs met by being true to my values, rather than unconsciously letting them be met elsewhere. This didn’t always fill me with passion, and did not always feel pleasurable. I stayed mindful and aware. Yet my life felt meaningful. And fulfilling, in an awake, vital, and open way.
If you don’t have a single, living and breathing passion, don’t worry about it. Uncover your values. Be true to them. Build a life around them. Examine them and stay mindful of them. Be passionate about that.