How Teens Can Explore Their Life Passions
“Choose a job that you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
The exact origin of that quote has been lost through the years, although it is often attributed to Chinese philosopher Confucius.
It means that there is no higher calling in life than to spend your life working on your passion; if you are lucky enough to do this, you will lead a life that is full of meaning and purpose.
Finding the thing that sparks your imagination and gets you to hop out of bed in the morning, eager to greet the day, is not always easy.
It can take years of working in fields that you do not enjoy or pursuing goals that are not the right fit to figure out what your passion really is.
Fortunately, being intentional in your search can help you narrow down what makes life most meaningful for you without going through years of fruitless searching.
For teens looking to explore their passions, here are three things you can do right now to find out what exactly it is.
1. Try everything
This is the wonderful time in life when you are encouraged to get out into the world and explore new things. Try as many as possible to see which ones ignite that spark.
Your passion may come from a subject you study in school, a sport or hobby that you pursue in your free time, or a cause for which you volunteer. You can find your passion in a variety of ways, so get out and start exploring!
Stuck on where to start?
Here are a few great places to find new hobbies, interests, or professions. Many offer free (sometimes even paid!) chances for teens and students to give something new a try.
Your local library
Your school’s guidance office
City parks and recreation departments
Volunteer and service organizations
Small businesses offering classes for teens
Local professionals looking for part-time hires or interns
A nearby college or university
Don’t worry about looking foolish if you don’t know something. Ask questions, try it out, and seek out insights from those who have done it before. After all, everyone was a beginner at some point.
2. Be open to opportunity
It can be tempting to stick with things that you already know, whether it is a sport you excel at or a subject that comes easy to you. We’re all human and we all like the safety and security that comes from doing what is familiar. But branching out to new areas may just open up a whole new world of possibilities.
If you have the chance to get more involved in something that you enjoy, such as a sport or club, go for it. You already know that the activity itself is something you like to do.
Why not take it to the next level? Taking on a leadership role can give you a good idea if you want to pursue this as your life’s work.
It will also give you the chance to meet and learn from adults who are actually making a living in this area. When your passion can provide your livelihood, you have found something really special.
3. Embrace change
Keep in mind that your passions may evolve over time—that is perfectly okay.
It’s a normal, even vital, part of living a full and meaningful life. If you are already in the habit of trying new things and being open to opportunity, you will know when it is time to pivot your focus to a new-found passion.
Just make sure that you are not acting from a place of fear or uncertainty. When pursuing something that has deep meaning, it can be tempting to give up when things get hard for fear of failing.
It stings deeper when you fail at something you truly care about rather than something that just mildly interests you. Surround yourself with a support network that can keep you motivated in times of change or challenge. Some people who can help include:
Family (parents, siblings, extended family)
Friends from school, activities, work
Supportive adults, such as teachers, counselors, or coaches
Professionals in the field who can act as mentors
Others with the same passion and enthusiasm, especially those with more experience and insight
There is no better time to starting exploring your passions than your teenage years.
Trying new things, taking advantage of opportunities that come your way, and embracing the fact that your passions can evolve and develop over time will help you explore the things that make life meaningful for you.
Once you find your passion, you won’t need to work another day. Instead, your life will be spent on the things that make it full and extraordinary.
Written by JASON PATEL, Former Career Ambassador at the George Washington University and Founder, Transizion