“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.”
— Oprah Winfrey
Every one of us has something that we enjoy doing: singing, drawing, writing, cooking, taking photos — to name just a few.
Some treat it as a hobby. Some turn it into a job or a career. Some might just think of it as leisure and never invest any effort in it.
Meanwhile, some do what Oprah advised — they let the energy from doing what excites them fuel their soul.
A study found that these people made up only 13% of the US workforce.
They are the lucky few who are passionate about the work they do.
Are you one of them?
How do you know whether something you do is actually your passion?
Here are the 8 telltale signs you might have hit the jackpot of life.
1. You go all out with it.
It is the thing that you always have a lot of energy and enthusiasm doing.
You don’t need anyone to remind you because you will do it anyway.
Engaging in this activity makes you feel excited and empowered. You talk about it with conviction and fire in your eyes. Some people can’t understand it when they see you so engrossed in your activity.
Take Thomas Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, as an example.
He was distracted at school and was fired from his first two jobs due to being unproductive. Yet, when it came to innovation — his passion, he was relentless. Evidently, he held a world record of 1,093 patents in his name, including critical inventions such as the electric lightbulb and the early day camera.
“The electric light has caused me the greatest amount of study and has required the most elaborate experiments. I was never myself discouraged, or inclined to be hopeless of success.”
2. You feel genuinely happy doing it.
Your true passion is definitely the thing that makes you happy.
Even the thought of doing it could excite you and put a smile on your face.
You can get down to it anytime without feeling like it’s a chore, a hassle, or a duty.
It is rewarding and fun. It makes you feel more yourself and full.
3. You don’t mind the hard work.
You might be easily put off by something once you realise you have to invest a lot of time and effort in it — but not this one.
A simple example is a difference between a person who plays guitar as a hobby and a person who treats it as a passion.
As they practice, it gets harder and harder to learn, and their fingers might get rough and bleed. The hobby person would be likely to reduce the practicing or even give up, whereas the passionate person keeps on playing no matter what because they know how fulfilling it would be once they get there.
This quality has been observed in the journeys of many successful entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who constantly strived for greatness.
In an interview with both legends, Steve Jobs said:
“If you really look at the ones that ended up, you know, being “successful” in the eyes of society and the ones that didn’t, oftentimes, it’s the ones who were successful loved what they did so they could persevere, you know, when it got really tough.”
― Steve Jobs
4. You feel the urge to constantly push yourself forwards.
When you do something, you tend to get to a point where you just feel satisfied with yourself and have no motivation to try further.
But, with the thing you are genuinely passionate about, you feel the urge to do something more, and you seriously want to get better.
Good enough is not enough for you — you are on the path to becoming remarkable.
A famous example is Michael Jordan, the superstar basketball player who earned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award five times. It was widely reported that he spent all his free time perfecting his jump shot when he first joined the league.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”
— Michael Jordan
5. You notice your progression.
Usually, when you can’t see your progression at something, it’s either because you are not good or you don’t care about it enough to make progress.
With passion, it’s the opposite. You both have the potential and care deeply about what you do, so your skills noticeably improve over time with your effort.
Evidently, in a study that tried to debunk the 10,000 hours rule popularised by Malcolm Gladwell, it was pointed out that there are other factors besides practice that differentiate the good from the super-elite — one of them being an individual’s attitude towards their practice.
See, passionate people have both the willingness and eagerness to practice, hence the continued advancement.
6. You gain a sense of achievement, pride, And purpose.
There are things you can improve and achieve when you put enough time and effort into it.
However, not all of them give you a sense of achievement and pride — indeed, not all of them make you want to brag or give you a reason to move forward.
Your passion is the thing that does it all. It guides you and gives you the highest level of joy and satisfaction when you succeed at it.
Think of Walt Disney who used to be a newspaper editor before the Mickey Mouse era. Or Harrison Ford who had been a carpenter for many years before being cast as Han Solo in Star Wars. None of the previous career paths had satisfied these extraordinary talents like when they found their true callings and subsequently international successes.
7. Money is not the ultimate goal.
It would certainly be beneficial to make a lot of money doing something you love, but even if you don’t (or can’t), your true passion is something you keep on doing regardless.
Money is usually not the most important goal when it comes to your passion because you are energised, motivated, and driven from within — not from external factors.
Do you know that Van Gogh was miserably poor and only sold one painting when he was alive? Even though he produced almost 900 paintings within the last few years of his life, he definitely wasn’t in it for the money.
“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”
— Vincent van Gogh
8. You lose track of time.
This is the most evident and noticeable sign out of all. When you do something you are passionate about, you’re all in.
Even if you’re someone who’s easily distracted, it feels right and you just can’t take your mind and your hands off it.
You almost lose all sense of time, which sometimes leads to skipping meals or pulling all-nighters. Though, you just love doing it so much that you don’t even feel tired anymore.
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt
What’s the thing that comes to your mind as you go through this list?
Here’s a recap of the 8 characteristics of fiercely passionate people who go after their callings:
You go all out.
You feel genuinely happy.
You don’t mind the hard work.
You feel the urge to constantly push yourself forward.
You notice your progression.
You gain a sense of achievement, pride, and purpose.
Money is not the ultimate goal.
You lose track of time.
If none of these signs apply to anything in your life right now — or in other words, you haven’t yet found your true passion — don’t worry. It takes time.
Perhaps you could treat these signs as guidance on deciding what’s right for you.
For now, you can get yourself out there and explore what the world has to offer.
Life will get tough, circumstances can be challenging, and people might not be as supportive as you hope. But, if you keep trying, you will find an answer — you never know what magical place it might take you to.
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
— George Eliot