The word ‘passion’ is used a lot in the personal development space and we’re seeing it used increasingly in the context of creating a business – turning your passion into profit.

Passion is described as an intense feeling towards an activity that we invest time and energy in – in other words doing what we love. Entrepreneurs devote so much time and energy on and in their business – even when the profit part is lacking (or lagging) – so there has to be something else going on beyond the money motivator.

So what happens when you know you have a passion in you, but you don’t know what it is – and you really want to find it?

I believe it has less to do with ‘not knowing your passion’ and more to do with being tired of the status quo combined with the desire for a more fulfilling life. However, I’ve heard this statement many times – “if I knew my passion I would be happy (or at the very least, happier)”.

It’s as though our passion is hidden away and we have no idea where to find it – but if we wait long enough it will miraculously appear – and then everything will change. We’ll be happier than we are now – more fulfilled than we are now – enjoying life more than we are now – anything but where we’re at now.

Although this may not be a realistic expectation, I actually love hearing comments like this because it tells me that they have one of the first key ingredients to creating a fulfilling life – a desire to change from the status quo. Motivation for change is a huge first step to actually implementing change.

When I look at the topic of passion, particularly entrepreneurial passion, I tend to look at it from three different viewpoints – let’s call it a positive side effect from my many career changes. I look at it from an academic perspective, from a business/financial perspective, and a coach’s perspective. I’m pretty sure they all overlap, but I will try to distinguish them.

Passion is a concept – something we can’t actually observe or measure with certainty. However, that doesn’t stop us from studying it. The studies to date on entrepreneurial passion (the focus of this post) have shown that there is a strong relationship between the meaningfulness of the entrepreneurial activity (the type of business we run) and the self-identity of the entrepreneur.

In other words, we must include the importance of context when looking at passion in business. If the role being played by an entrepreneur is closely aligned with their sense of authentic identity, it is more likely (s)he will continue in that business venture – even during challenging and uncertain times.

What does this all mean to those still searching for their passion – let alone their business idea?

If we can transform what we love to do into a business venture, then perhaps we have a winning combination for starting the entrepreneurial journey.

However, there is an important missing piece to this last statement when it comes to entrepreneurial passion – and that’s being good at what we’re passionate about – and equally important, believing that we’re good at what we’re passionate about.

If it’s just a hobby then we can love what we do and it doesn’t matter a jot if we can’t make a penny from it. However, if we’re looking to start a business that allows us to do what we love, we have to know how to do it and believe we can do it well. The good news is this – we can learn how to do it well.

I’ll give you a personal example here.

I’ve always liked the idea of photography – I mean ‘proper’ photography. I’ve had a digital SLR camera for a few years now and on the odd occasion I take it out and I tell myself ‘this time I’m going to get good at it’. Then I start to worry I won’t be any good or realize I have no clue what I’m doing – so I switch back to the auto settings (point-and-click), or just leave it at home and pull out my iPhone.

I have no idea if I could be any good at it or if I’ll even like it once I do figure out how to take pictures ‘like a pro’. However, something is drawing me towards learning more about it. So I’ve signed up for a photography course that will show me how to do this. It’s as easy as that. Am I going to love it – who knows! Am I going to be good at it – I have no idea! Could I make a business out of it – never say never! Am I going to have a go – absolutely!

Now it’s your turn…this is your ‘HAVE-A-GO’ section and I’m offering a few suggestions:

1. If you don’t know what your passion is, then try something new
At first glance, this might seem a bit overwhelming, but I would challenge you to sit with this one for a bit. Is there something you’ve thought about trying for a while now? However, you’ve managed to talk yourself out of it for fear you’ll discover you’re no good at it – or it will just feel ‘too hard’. If you don’t love what you do right now – what have you got to lose? Try something new.

2. If you find something you really enjoy doing, but you’re still not very good at it – practice, practice, practice
If you do try something new and discover you’re not very good at it, don’t worry – it’s totally normal and to be expected. However, if not only are you not very good at it, but you’re also not enjoying it – then chances are this might not be your passion. For me that’s downhill skiing. You don’t need another long story from me, but believe me I tried and I tried – and I just didn’t enjoy it.  On the other hand, if you do find yourself enjoying the activity but know it’s going to take a lot of practice to get good at it – keep going – you might be on to something! Practice, practice, practice.

3. If you do know what you’re passionate about and you’re good at it, but you don’t know if you can create a business out of it – do your research
Let’s take a seemingly unusual example. Say you love to knit and you’re a bloody good knitter, but you don’t think you can make a business out of it. How do you know for certain that you can’t? You don’t have to go far on Google to see the enormous growth of this so-called hobby industry – it’s incredible! I don’t know why I picked knitting (I never made it beyond a scarf), but hopefully you get my point. Do your research.

If you think all of this ‘have-a-go’ stuff is going to take too long to find your passion, get good at it, and create a business out of it – if you this think this might be a complete waste of time – I ask you this – what’s your alternative?

I’ve have had many conversations (and even surveyed a few) with aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs – most are still working in their day jobs. Nearly all of them talk about aligning their long-term vision of running a business with doing what they love.

One common goal among these entrepreneurs is financial – being able to generate enough money to replace their employment income so they can leave their job and focus on their business full time. A stretch goal admittedly, but certainly not an impossible one.

So what keeps them going? It’s the passion for what they do and the motivation to learn how to do it well – well enough to replace their income doing it. This is what keeps them going.

If you could discover what you love, become great at doing what you love, and create a business that pays you for doing what you love – then there is no better time than today to start doing it.

However, if you find yourself saying – “but this is not the right time for me”, I invite you to try out this (very short) exercise:

Sit down for a moment and imagine two images of your future self:

Image #1: It’s nearing the end of year 2020. Imagine you started along your passion journey today (2017). You’ve spent just a few hours each week working on it and along the way you’ve found your passion, you’re awesome at it, and you’ve now discovered a way to create a business from it? Who have you become?

Image #2: It’s nearing the end of year 2020. Imagine you still don’t know what you’re passionate about, but now you’re ready to start along your passion journey. Who have you become?
Which image do you prefer?

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