Many students often ask how they can discover their passion and interests. At some point in their student life, they might find themselves evaluating their life goals. They want to know how they can improve their quality of life.
Having a strong passion is important to our overall wellbeing. It enriches our lifestyle and brings meaning to our existence. It makes us feel that there is always something to look forward to. For students, passion can help reduce stress levels and improve your ability to learn new things.
In Singapore, we find that many students are too focused on their academic performance. They spend a lot of time in the classroom or working through assessment books to prepare for the examinations. As a result, there is less time and space for these students to discover their passion or pursue their interests.
Students need to consciously strike a balance between work and play. It may seem impossible at first, but it is not too difficult to do so. You just need to put in some effort and dedicate time to things that fuel your passion.
In recent years, there is a worrying trend that we have observed as educators. There are lots of students who need some guidance in figuring out their true passion. They simply don’t know where to start. We recommend asking yourself a simple but intriguing question:
What are some things that make you happy and excited?
In this article, we share some tips to help you discover your passion as a student.
Set Aside Time to Discover Your Passion
To discover your passion, you’ll need to first set aside the time to do so. It does not help if your daily schedule is so packed that you are always too busy to explore your interests. You should always make it a point to leave yourself some breathing space. Learn to take things slowly and don’t overload yourself with too many activities. Give yourself some time to rest and recharge, and get the right amount of sleep every night.
Perhaps you can try reducing the time you spend on social media. There’s just too much distraction and negative news out there on the internet. Having fewer things to worry about helps you to focus on learning about yourself. You should channel your energy to the things you are truly passionate about. A relaxed state of mind also helps you to work towards your life goals.
Are you one of those who feel that there is not enough time to discover your passion? If so, mindfulness techniques such as meditation can be useful. An energised mind and body helps you to be passionate about the things you are working on. When you spend time nurturing your heart and soul, you can easily gain inspiration. You would start to develop a creative mind and explore your interests to a deeper level.
Explore New Activities
Don’t be afraid to try new things. You wouldn’t know if you are passionate about something, if you haven’t even given it a shot. Finding your passion can sometimes be a hit or miss. By mathematical probability, the more things you try, the greater your chances of discovering something you are passionate about.
Always wanted to try inline skating or bouldering? Invite some friends along or sign up for a class to help you get up to speed. If you enjoy it, continue to get better at these sports. Take your skills and passion to greater heights. But if you don’t seem to like what you are doing, move on to the next thing on your list.
For example, you may think that painting can help you unleash your creative self. After a few attempts, you realise that it is not something for you. That’s okay. Find something else that is similar, such as writing a poem or composing a song. There are many alternative ways for you to express your creativity.
Many of us do not even give things a try. We may think that something is not interesting to us. But because of a chance encounter or someone forced you to do so, you might realise that it’s something you could do for the rest of your life.
Revisit Your Past Interests
Do you have an old interest that you’ve forgotten about? As your life gets busier, you may have had to give up some of your interests along the way. Or you may have simply lost that passion and was no longer interested at some point. Now that you are actively looking for things that interest you, here’s your chance to rediscover and reignite that passion.
For example, you used to play a musical instrument such as the violin or guitar. It’s time to take out your old score sheets and relive your dusty memories. Perhaps singing in the shower or dancing in the mirror was your thing. Try it out when nobody is around if you are afraid of embarrassing yourself.
Revisiting your past interests could help you to rediscover your passion. After all, you were interested in some of those activities at some point in your life. Gather your old friends who used to participate in group activities together. Used to take turns throwing three-pointers at the basketball court at the end of every week? Revitalise the inactive group chat by sending an invitation to those who are still in the group.
It doesn’t matter whether you are exploring a brand new activity or going back to an old forgotten one. The important thing is to keep open mind. Stay flexible and go ahead with the activity. Avoid worrying too much about how the activity will turn out.
Take a Personality Test
There are many personality assessments which can help you discover suitable hobbies that are aligned to your passion. You would have probably heard of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test. This test helps you to figure out your personality type and how you interact with the world around you.
Let’s say you discover that you are an INFP, i.e. you are thoughtful, passionate and creative. You could explore sketching doodles or writing poems. You could also volunteer to help out in a non-profit organisation every week or so. At the point of writing, INFP is one of the most common personality type in Singapore. If you’re an INTP, you might enjoy solving mathematical puzzles and playing logical games. INTPs are also likely to enjoy computer programming.
Another personality assessment is the Strong Interest Inventory. This test helps you to identify the things you are truly interested in. You’ll learn where your passions are in six broad areas of interest: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising and conventional. Taking the first letter of each word, this personality test is also referred to as the RIASEC test.
Through these personality assessments, you can learn more about yourself and what you might enjoy. This helps you to pick up hobbies that are better aligned to your personality. Revisit these tests once in a while as your personality may change over time. Your personality could also be shaped by the environment or the people you spend time with.
Change Your Environment
When you spend too much time in your comfort zone, chances are that things would eventually become mundane. There is nothing new or exciting about the environment you are in. Everything just happens like clockwork. Of course, this isn’t the most ideal situation to be in when you want to learn about your passion.
An understated way to discover a passion that you didn’t realise was there is to move to a new environment. Changing your environment allows you to pay more attention to things that you’ve never noticed before. It doesn’t have to be a major change. If you are not too comfortable with taking a big step, a small change can still be useful.
For example, you’ve always wanted to stay healthy and fit. But you feel that you’re too weak to hit the public gym. In that case, consider setting up your own home gym. Put on your exercise shoes, and jog on the spot instead of running on a treadmill. Start small by buying a few free weights and a simple bench before expanding your gym facilities. This allows you to exercise on your own without getting too self-conscious. Second-hand equipment works well, if you are not too sure if your interest would sustain.
When travelling (both abroad and locally), look around you and open up your eyes. You might encounter new ideas and inspiration. That’s how one of my friends picked up leather craft and started making customised wallets and belts for himself. We don’t usually walk pass a leather workshop, but this chance encounter has helped spark his passion.
Evaluate and Adjust Along the Way
After exploring some of the tips above, you should have a better idea of what might interest you. You would also figure out the activities that you might want to avoid. Spend some time to evaluate how each activity affects your mood. The activities which you participate in should ideally make you feel uplifted.
But there is no activity in real life that would get you 100% excited or passionate about. Maybe 99% if you are very lucky. Is there any part of the activity which you are not too keen on? How can you adapt the activity to make it even more enjoyable than before? All these are part of actively learning who you are as a person.
For example, you enjoy getting off the beaten path and explore the rough nature trails on wheels. However, cleaning the splatters of mud off your mountain bike isn’t the most fun thing to do. If so, you might consider riding through the forest on drier days, instead of after a heavy downpour. Or you might want to try out a different form of cycling.
Spend more time on the things that keep you going. Stay away from activities that make you feel bored. Try identifying the common theme which binds the activities that you are passionate about together. From there, are there similar things which you can explore?
Evaluating is a reiterative step in discovering your passions. After a few rounds, you will start to gain a better understanding of yourself and your passions to a greater detail. Most importantly, you need to take action to narrow down your specific interests and what drives your self-motivation.
Discovering your passion is not the easiest thing to do. In fact, it often takes up quite a bit of time and mental energy. Make it a point to spend time thinking about the things that excite you. Try out new activities or revisit those which you previously enjoyed doing.
Try taking a personality test to learn more about yourself. From there, look at what other people with a similar personality might enjoy spending their time on. You can also put yourself in a slightly different environment from time to time. Most importantly, your passion may change over time. Evaluate your interests regularly and make adjustments along the way.
What exactly is passion? Passion is an emotion which you experience when you become excited about taking action on something. It is a strong desire to pursue an activity or hobby that adds real meaning to your life.
Why is it important to have a passion? Having a passion helps you to create the lifestyle that best suits your personality. It also helps you to get through the toughest times, by giving you something exciting to look forward to.