You’re struggling to find your passion because you’re looking at it the wrong way.

Like many of us, you were misled into believing that passion is an activity that you do such as photography, writing, or playing video games.

While some are passionate about these activities, these activities are not their passions.

I’ve spent most of my twenties looking for my passion, the thing that would get me excited for the day.

But the more I looked, the more disappointed and disillusioned I became. For years, I questioned if I was ever going to find that one thing that would make life worthwhile.

It wasn’t until I realized that I’d been looking for the wrong thing and wished I had these three principles to guide me. Fortunately, I get to share them with you.

# Eliminate What You Don’t Like

Prior to the internet, the world felt small and closed off to many of us.

But now with access to a vast amount of information in the palm of our hands, the opportunities seem limitless. The number of hobbies that we can pursue, the careers that we can have, and the many people that we can become seem so…overwhelming.

But what if I told you that instead of looking for your passion in a sea of information like searching for a needle in a haystack, there’s a way to narrow down our options?

One of the my favorite equations from statistics is the Rule of Complements, which simply states:

“The sum of probabilities and its complements is equal to one”

Mathematically, the equation looks like this:

In simpler terms, it means the probability of A happening + the probability of A not happening is 1.

Now you’re probably asking: Try, how does this relate to finding your passion?

It relates because it shows that to find something that you like, you need to take away what you don’t.

Suppose that P(A) represents what you like and P’(A) represents what you don’t.

Then if we manipulate the equation, we’ll get this:

By knowing what you don’t like, you can find out what you do because you ignore the irrelevant information and make room for the relevant ones.

For me, believe it or not, I don’t like programming. I don’t like sitting in front of my computer all day and writing code as it’s unsatisfying. Therefore, I wouldn’t consider it a potential passion.

This also gives me more space to reflect on what I do like given what I know I don’t.

Take the time to reflect and ask yourself what is it that you don’t want to spend your time doing.

# Stop Looking at the Surface and Go Deeper

I said earlier that you’d been misled to believe that passion is an activity you do.

People often say, “My passion is playing video games” or “My passion is reading books.”

While those are perfectly valid viewpoints, they’re simplisitic.

Why do you enjoy these activities?

If you play video games, what do you like about them? Is it the competitiveness? The ability to see you progression and improvements? Or is it the stories that they tell?

My point is that passion is not the activity itself, but rather the reason you enjoy the activity.

To quote Arritro’s post, Why Passion is a Light switch, not a Light Bulb:

“I think passion should act as a light switch instead of one of the lightbulbs. Passion should be something that’s applicable to multiple aspects of life and not something that’s categorized as an aspect.”

While Arritro’s idea inspired me to write this post, I want to expand on his idea.

The light bulbs of your life are the actual activities that you do: your job, hobbies, interests, etc.

However, those light bulbs need electricity to function. The electricity is your passion.

When I was a programmer, I thought I was passionate about coding, but I was actually passionate about:

• Solving puzzles and interesting problems
• Breaking down complex ideas and explaining them to others (it’s why I still write coding blog posts)

For learning languages and writing, there is some overlap between them, such as teaching, applying my learned knowledge to real-world situations, and making connections with others.

While they aren’t the only things that allow me to exercise my passion for teaching and applying knowledge, I understand now that any potential interests should enable me to exercise these passions.

Your passion is the basis of why you participate in these activities. Lean deeper into understanding why you like certain things over others.

# You Need Experimental Data

If you’re still unsure about what you don’t like or struggle to look deeper into what drives you, you need more data.

That means you need to experiment and try things to see what clicks.

At one point in my twenties, I was terrified of trying new things.

After struggling to be a software engineer for three years only to give up, I was scared of committing time to something that may not be a fit and ultimately waste time.

• Will I like this?
• What is it about UX design, graphic design, or photograph that I like?
• What if I dedicate so much time to it that it doesn’t work out and I just wasted my time again?

What I thought saved me time, ironically, wasted a lot of it just by pondering instead of actually trying it out.

Yes, life is short. But it’s better to spend it taking action (even if it’s the wrong action) than not having taken any at all.

I likely wouldn’t have realized my love for writing and teaching if I had not spent years learning how to program. It made me a better thinker, which provided me with the skill set to solve more interesting problems in technology and outside of it.

If you’re uncertain if you like something, you can’t think your way to an answer. You must experiment and experience outside of yourself to find it.

# Conclusion

Do not confine your passion to hobbies or activities. Your passion is not some activity that you have yet to be exposed to.

It’s much more profound. It is what drives you to what you already enjoy and guides you to other interests.

You also may have multiple passions because many things may drive you. The activities that you do are merely the channels to exercise your passions.

Once you understand these guiding principles, you can apply them to other aspects of your life, such as searching for a partner, a career, and even yourself.