High school is a time when you learn, change, and grow a ridiculous amount in a very short time. You are learning new things, meeting new people, and figuring out who you are. It is also a time to start thinking about your future career. But how do you know what you are passionate about?
Here are some tips for finding your passion in high school:
Explore different activities and classes
This is the best way to find out what you enjoy and what you are good at. Try new things, even if you think you might not like them. You might be surprised at what you find. For example, my family was huge into basketball. I played with my sister all the time at home. So in 7th grade, I tried out for the basketball team, and it turns out I was absolute garbage at it. Not only that, but I hated it. When I got into high school I tried all kinds of things. Theatre, speech & debate, band, culinary, FFA, broadcasting, and probably more that I’ve forgotten. I enjoyed all of them to some degree, but some stuck more than others. But giving speech and debate a shot is the reason that I’m a professional speaker today, so all the experimentation paid off for me.
Talk to your teachers, counselors, friends, and parents
It’s frustrating, but sometimes we have a hard time seeing ourselves clearly, so the people who know you best might be able to identify the things that seem to really light you up. They can help you reflect on your interests and experiences, and they may be able to connect you with opportunities to explore your passions. You can also ask other people about their passions. Ask someone to tell you about something they love. Not only will you get to learn about something new and fascinating, but you’ll make a friend. Nothing gets a stranger to open up quite like sincerely showing interest in something they love.
Don’t be afraid to fail
This is one of the most useful life tips for almost everything, not just finding your passion. Everyone fails sometimes. Actually, everyone fails almost constantly. It’s part of the learning process. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back from trying new things. If you aren’t failing at anything right now, then you aren’t pushing yourself. Do something challenging! The most successful people I know are also the ones who have failed the most, simply because they are always trying and learning new things.
Sometimes people treat your passion as some single all-encompassing hobby that defines you in every way. While there are some people who have one clear driving force in their lives, most of us are more complicated than that. You may come to enjoy hobbies in the future that you haven’t even had the chance to try yet. Perhaps you’ll absolutely fall in love with surfing one day, but you’re going to school in Nebraska, so it just hasn’t happened yet. I love archery, but I never shot a bow until after I met my wife. It’s okay to let yourself change.
Don’t Define Yourself By Classes and Clubs
High school is weird because it’s pretty much the only time that we sort ourselves by our hobbies. Even if your school doesn’t have the stereotypical “movie cliques” like jocks, nerds, and preps, it is easy to define “who you are” by “what you do”. There are sports kids and music kids and theater kids.
But “passions” and “talents” don’t have to just describe extracurriculars, clubs, or hobbies. Identify the traits that connect all your many interests, and that’s where you’ll really start to unlock your superpowers. You’ll have to think big picture if you’re going to find those strengths, which I like to call a “knack” or sometimes your “inner Mastermind”.
Find Your Inner Mastermind
The term “inner mastermind” comes from a sheep we owned when I was a kid that we called Mastermind. She had a knack for escapism and leadership. Wherever we put her, whatever we did, she could weasel her way out of any fence and then teach others to do it too. It was just what she did. We all have one or more knack. My wife, Caitee, is an incredible creative thinker. She’s a musician, a painter, and a writer. She’s incredibly intelligent, but she doesn’t “think fast” in the way that we usually think of “smart people” thinking. She isn’t rapidly calculating mental math. She thinks deeply, thoroughly, and creatively. So any job or hobby that requires deep, creative thinking is one that she usually enjoys and excels at.
On the other hand, my mind works like a gerbil on a wheel. It’s always moving, even if it isn’t going anywhere. I analyze everything. I like to play strategy games, whether board games or video games. I run hypothetical future scenarios for almost every decision I make. I like to scheme, plan, and brainstorm. That knack has made me very successful at starting businesses. It also meant I could beat Caitee at chess even when I was high as a kite on painkillers after major surgery. Jobs and hobbies that require me to plan or come up with new solutions tend to be fun and easy for me.
I know some people who thrive on method and organization. Tasks that I would find monotonous, they find fulfilling. They love creating a system and then having that system work to make things easier and more effective in the future.
There are those who thrive on competition, both against others or against themselves. They can push themselves to accomplish amazing things simply for the sake of accomplishing them. They have a knack for grit and determination that inspires them to study, train, or work harder than anyone else just so they can be their very best.
The list could go on and on. Personality quizzes, aptitude tests, and systems like the MBTI try to take these different knacks and preferences and sort people into boxes. These systems are appealing because they give us a label where we can say “Oh, I’m a Driver. I like to address problems head-on and am comfortable being a leader. I’d be good at these kinds of jobs.”
But you can’t actually sort all of humanity into 16 convenient boxes. You have a mix of knacks and preferences that combine to make you entirely unique. That is your Inner Mastermind. Because I’m analytical and Caitee’s creative, but there are people out there who are analytical and creative! And so much more. You can’t define your identity solely by the classes you take or the clubs or teams you join. You are more than your hobbies or your job (or schoolwork).
So if you’re trying to find that spark, the thing that really lights you up, be patient with yourself. Finding your Inner Mastermind is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, effort, and self-reflection. But it is a journey that is well worth taking. The more you understand about yourself, the more motivated, engaged, and successful you will be.
Here are some additional tips for finding your passion in high school:
- Keep a journal. This is a great way to track your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It can also help you to reflect on your progress and stay motivated.
- Set goals. Once you have a better understanding of your interests and values, you can start to set goals for yourself. This will help you to stay focused and on track.
- Don’t give up. It is normal to feel lost and confused sometimes. That’s okay. Just keep exploring and trying new things, and eventually, you’ll find some you tolerate, some you enjoy, and some you absolutely love.
If you want the full story of Mastermind and how you can prepare to find your calling in college or a future career, you can invite me to your school to speak to your class. Just send me an email at [email protected] or call/text me at 307-851-7250. I’d be happy to help!