10 Pointers to Your Passion You’d Be Silly To Ignore

In my ‘previous life’ as a medical doctor, I somehow ‘knew’ it wasn’t my life’s work. And for someone who devoted 11 years of life to ‘helping others’ that’s a pretty scary realisation.

Many of my peers looked up to me in awe for getting (first time round) into one of the most competitive training programmes in the country. What they did not know was how embarrassed I was to admit to anyone, including myself, that I could not ‘see’ myself ever reaching a zenith of medical career by becoming Consultant or a GP. Retrospectively, I know that my success in medicine was attributable to my personality, dedication and relentless hard work, rather than any real passion.

My fear of “what others would think of me” if I didn’t conform to what is expected of a “well-progressing trainee” meant I was chasing and living someone else’s dream for some years. I was competent and distinguished by both my patients and colleagues, and would’ve never imagined that I could do anything else with my medical degree. My self-preservation blinkers were on and I continued ticking boxes and going through the motions of climbing the career ladder hoping that my silly thoughts would eventually disappear. This continued until I felt like I completely lost myself.

In a life-changing conversation with another ex-medic, I realised that it was time to stop trying to believe in what I do and start doing what I believe is right for me. I am frequently asked how I found an alternative career that makes me feel alive. The one thing that made the greatest difference was taking the time to find myself. Whether you want to figure out what your life’s work may be or you want to reignite a spark of motivation and enthusiasm in your existing career, you should dive deep into self-discovery and figure out what you are passionate about. I believe that when you love what you do, you do it better.

Here are my 10 thought-provoking questions the answers to which will enable you to reconnect with your passion. Pay attention to some common themes emerging – they will help you to connect the dots later, especially if you are pondering about your purpose in life.

1) What experiences/activities make you feel alive?

They make you feel good about yourself and the world around you. They make your heart smile. (I recommend that you think of 10-20 examples).

2) What activities/experiences enable you to be who you truly are?

During these moments, you are able to have a sense of serenity, peace and contentment.

3) What do you absolutely love learning about (something that for you doesn’t require much effort to memorise and implement)?

When you learn about <this>, you genuinely feel like you are growing. And you have a constant hunger to learn even more. You regularly invest time and money into events/courses/books and other resources on this subject, even when not required by your employer.

4) What do you find yourself doing at times when your mind wanders?

When your conscious mind is not focusing on another task, target or deadline, take a moment to acknowledge the connection with your subconscious mind. Deep within lie all the answers…

5) What would you gladly do any time of the day or night, regardless of how you feel, and without the need to be asked or reminded?

When you are passionate about something and utilise your talents and strengths, it seems effortless. You probably even wonder sometimes how others could struggle or dislike <this>.

6) What are you doing when you are fully engaged and can keep a focus for hours?

You can get so absorbed in matters, which you are passionate about, that other things seize to exist. Time flies when you are doing something that has a meaning and purpose to you.

7) If you figured out a way to get paid for <this>, it would be the best job in the world!

It wouldn’t feel like work at all, even if you had to do it with very few days off.

8) What do different people say that you are really good at, time and time again?

This question helps to assess what you are naturally good at (your talents). Talents and passion are inter-related.

9) What do people ask you to help them with and value your advice/opinion on?

When people sense that you are passionate about something, they will ‘see’ you as an expert in that area, hence it is useful to note what requests for help and advice you get time and time again.

10) If health and money were not an issue, and you had another 1000 years to live, what would you love to be doing? Really take some time to consider your answer to this question.

What common themes have you noticed within your answers? How much passion, energy and engagement do you feel for your current work?

Howard Thurman (1899 – 1981, philosopher and civil rights leader) once said: “Don’t worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

4 comments on “10 Pointers to Your Passion You’d Be Silly To Ignore
  1. Jay says:

    I have always been pushed by my parents to be a doctor and even now that i have graduated they are pushing and insisting for me to write the usmle and start my career in the u.s as a doctor.i really love fashion and i want to start up my own clothing line that’ll grow in the future to be something bigger.i dont know how to go about this and am also scared that if it doesn’t work my family will rub it in my face.

    • admin says:

      Dear Jay,
      How about taking small steps in the direction of a career in fashion, i.e. start building a network of useful contacts, go to events and trade shows, start a blog, do an evening course, re-tweet articles of interest on Twitter to gather a following within the fashion world.
      A career change doesn’t happen over night, and it’s taking small steps that can result in opportunities you may not have even thought of.

  2. Carmen James says:

    WOW!!! I am blown away that this website even exists! I literally believed until this point that I was marginally crazy and incredibly silly for being as frustrated with mt medical career as I am. This is such a prestigious profession held in such high regard and yet when people ask me what I do for a living, I literally cringe! I never introduce myself as Dr. James and have been frustrated by the whole idea of it since the very beginning. I am SO glad you exist! This article has been SUCH an “aha” moment for me! I’ve asked myself this question about my passion time and time again to try and figure out what I should be doing with the rest of my life but I think the way you’ve outlined the pointers is really going to help me. I enjoy doing alot of things that seem very stupid and mundane like dancing and shopping and learning about make up and beauty and I love beautiful things and art and creativity … It seems like a mixed bag of things everyone enjoys so I’m hoping I will be able to figure this all out and finally make a transition. I have an AMAZING job right now working on cruise ships which gives me the luxury of living a very good life, meeting all sorts of people and “travelling”, well, at least I get to see the world and get a really really good salary while doing so and you would think that I should be the happiest most fulfilled doctor ever especially since I’m the envy of all my doctor friends who swoon over my “perfect life” but alas, I’m not happy. I’m happier than I was practicing at home but I think the biggest thing is that this does not make me jump out of bed every morning beaming with excitement and absolutely thrilled to be alive. So, thank you because at least now, I feel normal 🙂

    • admin says:

      Dear Carmen,
      Many thanks for your warm words. When I was starting in Dermatology, another medic friend said “Wow, you’re going to PARADISE”. Subsequently, when I was planning my “exit”, I knew that I’d be swimming against the tide. Indeed, many people then (and even now!) wondered why I’d be so stupid to be leaving such paradise, but handing in a letter of resignation from training was one of the most uplifting (albeit frightening) experiences in my life.

      In order to put less pressure on yourself and to stop procrastinating, I’d recommend you set such an expectation that your next role DOESN’T NEED to be a 100% ideal role based on passion where you’d be “jumping out of bed every morning beaming with exciting”. In fact, it may well take another few roles before you’ve found your best fit. Remember that whatever you do, you can later package in an advantageous light, because the majority of employers look for a set of transferable skills (of course, for the more technical roles you can do extra courses).

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