Author and entrepreneur Steven Kotler writes
in a blog post that there’s unnecessary mystery surrounding the word “passion.”
As Kotler points out, the reason passion is important in your career and life is both simple and practical: “it’s a profound focusing mechanism.”
We pay more attention to things we believe in, and this drives performance, increases productivity, and triggers the flow state
Kotler recommends the below 5 step process to find your passion:
1. Make a list of curiosities
Write down 25 things you’re curious about.
To help identify what should be on the list, ask yourself: If you had a spare weekend, what topics would you be interested in reading a couple books on, or speaking with an expert about?
The key is to be as specific as possible.
For instance, if you’re interested in fitness, you might write down “how to have good posture while jogging.”
Or, instead of writing down “food,” you might write about the potential for grasshoppers to become humanity’s primary food source in the future.
2. Look for intersections.
Now try to find places where your 25 curiosities intersect.
Taking the examples from Step #1 above, if you’re curious about jogging and about grasshoppers as a potential source of protein: Would grasshoppers or other insects make a good post-workout food?
This is an important step because curiosity alone is not enough to create passion – it doesn’t entail enough focus or commitment.
You’re looking for an overlap between your curiosities because our brains love pattern recognition: “the linking of ideas together.”
3. Explore the intersection
Once you’ve identified the intersection, feed your curiosities by studying the topics. Even 10 to 20 minutes each day of watching videos or reading books and articles is helpful.
You want to become familiar with the history and language of the associated ideas. This will lead to more patterns, more dopamine, more motivation, and over time, some degree of expertise.
4. Be social
It’s not enough to identify and explore the intersection of your curiosities.
Kotler argues that you also need “public successes”: positive feedback and reinforcement from a group (e.g., talking to others interested in the same topics, joining a community).
The key is being able to enter the conversation around these topics with your own ideas and something to say.
5. Find a purpose
Kotler writes that in order to build a business or your career around your passion, you need to turn it into a purpose.
He recommends the following exercise: write down 15 global problems that you would like to see solved (e.g., hunger). Now ask yourself: Can your intersecting curiosities be applied to any of these problems?
For Kotler, the world’s biggest challenges are also the world’s biggest business opportunities.