Find your likes by eliminating your dislikes

On using a process of elimination to find your passion

These days, it feels like we’re told 100 times a day about our pressing need to “find our passion” or “do what you love.”

This can often feel like empty advice and an empty pursuit.

Because that elusive needle in a hay stack we’re searching for, is exactly that: elusive.

Lately I’ve been thinking that reversing the thought exercise might actually be more helpful:

Instead of focusing on finding your “passion” or “love”, focus on identifying and eliminating the aspects of your life you dislike.

More often than not we struggle to articulate or predict what we want or like. But in my experience, I’m far more capable of accurately identifying things I definitely don’t like.

For example, I’ve been working as a software designer for about 7 years now.

Coming out of college I had zero idea software design was even a thing. Instead I went through more than a handful of jobs I didn’t like (and was brutally honest with myself about whether or not I was enjoying the roles).

A job I could tolerate was the goal, loving a job was too far of a stretch for me.

And through process of elimination, I began spiraling ever closer to that elusive target like a satellite falling out of orbit, I found myself in roles I started to hate less and less.

It’s so much easier to identify things you don’t like than “things you’re willing to suffer for” (ie. the actual definition for passion). 

You’ll never find the needle by diving into the pile of hay.

The only way to find it is to focus on clearing the hay away one handful at the time.

Keep it up long enough and the only thing left will be elusive needle.

(And what may be the most surprising is that more often than not, the need (our passion) comes in a much different form than what we thought we were looking for all along.)

🤝 Stay in touch

I send an email several times a year with a handful of the most interesting things I’ve written or uncovered at home, abroad, and on the web.

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