Man, it is so difficult to find your passion these days because of the huge distractions, and the short attention span. Discovering what I am really passionate about took me years.
I grew up in the 90s, and there were no social media, YouTube or Netflix. My hobbies when I was less than 12 years old, were reading, writing and drawing on big white sheets.
There was nothing interfering with my creativity and imagination, until I became 13 years old.
I lived in an Arab Gulf country “Oman” with my family for 6 years, and once I turned 13 we went back to Egypt, my home country. And this is when I lost focus, and my creativity faded away.
I got trapped in teenage issues. And I faced lots of mindset shifts, until I totally forgot what I really enjoyed, and was wired to do.
This is what normally happens to everybody.
You might had a special talent or skill that you were enjoying and developing as a child, and once you get older and have more responsibilities, you get distracted. Of course the lucky ones can keep their childhood skills, nurture them and actually become known for mastering them forever.
But what exactly can make it difficult for you to find your passion? I will start with the education systems.
Traditional education systems will not help you to find your passion
Let me tell you a fact about the education system in the middle east, it sucks. Education in the middle east focuses in memorizing pieces of the textbook, without any thinking or creativity. It is not perfect anywhere in the world however.
Do you believe that I was memorizing math equations and their solutions, just to write those solutions “as is” in the exams?
So you can imagine, I lost all the creativity skills, in other words they went into sleep mode for a while.
My skills kept itching under my skin!
After 2 years in college, I got bored and was just trying to pass the exams. I decided to learn web development and create a website. I called it Creative Minds. But, it was just a name, and I didn’t do anything “creative” other than the website name.
I didn’t stop there, I told a friend about an idea to create another website together, and use our skills in computer science to offer some services on it. That was back in 2002, there was no Upwork or any other popular freelancing marketplaces like today.
Two years later there was no progress, my friend abandoned the project, and I was all alone pursuing my passion.
I didn’t stop looking for something to spark my creativity, but I didn’t find it in college at all. So, I had to take offline freelancing web development jobs beside my study, because this way I was able to create awesome things and get rewarded for them.
I was fascinated by the idea that I can write hundreds or thousands of lines to create something “a web app”, that can do stuff automatically, and also get paid for it.
After a while, I didn’t have enough time to do both my day job and freelancing. So, I switched from providing web development services, to offering web hosting to existing and new clients.
What did you get from my story so far? I am trying to show you that although all my school and college years didn’t support my passion discovery. I was persistent.
Nothing kept me from searching for what makes me excited, and that’s what you need to do as well. So, in order to find your passion, don’t lose hope and don’t rely on external factors to find it for you.
That’s about the education systems, what about the day job?
Will you find your passion in “or with” a day job?
However, normally you get a day job based on your college degree, not what you actually love doing.
And this is exactly what I got!
A full time job in information systems department, and the company itself had nothing to do with information systems or creativity at all. We were only a service department, we fix issues and fire fight all day long.
I kept working for this company since 2006, doing the same boring things over and over again. Imagine if I didn’t have my own business to help me practice some creativity, for 12 years straight!
The spark I had in my eyes in my twenties has gone, and the motivation almost disappeared. Because I became like any regular employee, waiting for the monthly pay check. And nothing more!
I kept looking for something I enjoy working on, trying discover my “passion”.
I know that I love doing new things that help people, and eventually get acknowledged for my efforts. But I forgot all about my childhood passion and the hobbies I loved.
However, I noticed a common thing in all the stuff I was doing and makes me happy, which is creating and producing content.
For example, in my day job I enjoyed creating useful tutorials, documentations, reports, plans and I was very good at writing business emails. I even enjoyed writing Linux scripts to automate the areas of my job that can be automated.
So everything I enjoyed doing involved writing content! But I didn’t know at the time, that I had a passion for writing.
I just enjoyed it, then I got distracted with the technical tasks in my day job and administrative tasks in my business. Years later, after creating a new brand with a blog, a podcast and some videos on my new YouTube channel, I discovered it.
That being said, you have to dig deep to find your passion. You need to find the one common thing that makes you excited in everything you do. The one thing that if removed from anything you do, you feel less fulfilled.
Do that and you will eventually define exactly what you are passionate about. I was very excited when it was clearly defined for me.
My passion is content creation!
Today when I read the poems and the stories I wrote in my childhood, I feel very proud of my younger self. And it becomes very clear to me. I loved writing in a very young age because I was creating and producing.
And my products were beautiful!
So why not write for my own websites? Why not start my own blog?
And this is when the idea of creating my website ShadyAlAref.com came to life. Because I wanted to refresh my writing and content creation skills in my own blog, and with every topic I like writing about. And eventually switched from hiring freelancers for my business blogs, to becoming a freelance writer and blogger myself.
I had a freelancer profile on Upwork, where I offered technology and web services, but deep inside me I didn’t want to do those tasks. And accordingly, I wasn’t excited enough to apply for those types of jobs. So I abandoned this profile for a while.
Once I found my passion for writing, I fully updated my profile on Upwork to focus only on providing writing and blogging services, then I started to get jobs in the first 2 days of sending prosposals.
The first client I got was very satisfied with the blog post that I wrote, and delivered the same day. I am not bragging here. I am telling you that once I knew what I really enjoy doing, I won.
The moment you find your passion, you will be thrilled. You will know exactly what you can work on to improve, what you can enjoy doing for years without losing the momentum, and what you can be paid for as a freelancer or business owner.
So how this story can help you to find your passion?
My story shows you the worst case scenario. I changed countries, enrolled into less than average education system and got a boring job that doesn’t make me fulfilled. And yet I finally found my passion, because I kept searching and didn’t settle.
If you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur, my advice to you is never chase niches or online freelance jobs that you are not excited about, just to make money. If you don’t like something, no matter how much money you make, your soul will be dying inside by time. And you will never feel fulfilled.
At the same time, if you do your best to find your passion and do what you love, you need to find ways to make it profitable and build a successful business around it. A business with a passionate leader has better chances to succeed, and create a great company culture with loyal employees.
I know that my story may not be relevant to you. But whatever story you live right now, you should not settle.
You live it once, and you should enjoy it no matter what!
If you agree or disagree with what I shared in this article, let’s have a conversation in the comments below.