(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY It's the ultimate graduation cliche: Find your passion! All commencement speakers seem to be required to use these three words at some point in the address, and for good reason: Life is more exciting and fun when you're passionate about what you're doing.
But telling someone to find their passion and telling them how to do it are two different things. Modern young people are used to lives scheduled to a hilt. Alas, "find my passion" can't be scheduled at 4 p.m. on Thursday, after chemistry lab and before that stint volunteering at the local senior center.
So how do you figure out what would make you excited to go to work or at least wake up in the morning? I think there are a few things you can try:
1. Interview relatives about what you did as a kid. What did you spend your days doing when you didn't have to do anything? If your parents dragged you to umpteen lessons weekly, this question may not be helpful. But when someone left you alone in the basement, what toys, games, and books did you gravitate toward?
2. Look through old school notebooks. You probably drew certain pictures and wrote certain stories about things that fascinated you. Just because you drew astronauts doesn't mean you need to be an astronaut, but there may be some aspect of exploring that you found exciting.
3. Talk to people who love their jobs. What do they like about them? How did they figure out their callings in life? Maybe there's a process there that you can think about as well. Bonus: You'll see cool jobs that actually exist!
4. Try a lot of things. Rather than sitting around watching TV or surfing the web, accept social invitations. Go to random events in your town. Over time, you'll start to see what causes and events excite you most, and what topics you like talking with people about.
5. Check your reading habits. During the time you are on the web or reading newspapers, see what kinds of stories always draw you in. How could you spend your days thinking about such topics?
6. Keep good notes. As you're experimenting, you'll figure things out that you like and don't like. Make a list of the things you find fascinating, and revisit this list frequently. After all, the chances aren't good that your first job will involve all of them. But over time, if you keep your interests near the top of your mind, you'll discover ways to weave them into your life.
Have you found your passion? How did that happen?