How to find what you love in life

Starting Out
By Team Holly & Co


How do you find your passion? Before you think about starting a business or having any kind of small business ideas, that’s what you need to consider. If you want to discover what you truly love and really start to feel fulfilled in life, read on.

You can do it card

How to find your sparkle in life: figuring out what makes you tick

Photographer, author, musician, film director and social justice seeker Gordon Parks once famously said, “Enthusiasm is the electricity of life.” When it comes to work or starting a business, some people are incredibly lucky aren’t they? They discover something they like to do when they are young, figure out what it would take for them to be able to do it every day and then go and make it possible. This may take a lot of hard work but their path, at least, is clear. For others, it is less straightforward because we become grown-ups without this happening and the tricky thing there is that as adults, we are strangely adept at making simple things terribly complicated.

We end up undertaking all kinds of responsibilities and tasks that we don’t really want to do and fall into roles we’re not passionate about because that’s simply where life takes us. And really when you think about it, how crazy is it that we let this happen? That we lose our electricity and the very thing that powers us?

Be brave and live your purpose: finding your passion takes courage

Imagine if instead, you could get up every day and do something that made your heart sing or that you felt proud of yourself for doing; something you couldn’t wait to tell people about because it just makes you so excited deep in your core and the kind of role you would wish for the next generation even, because it’s a role with the potential to change the world?

Well, here’s the exciting part. You can. You can change this in an instant if you choose to. Even despite the immediate, ‘But I can’t afford to’ thoughts or the ‘But I have kids to look after’ or the ‘I’m way too old’, ‘Everyone will think I’m an idiot’ or ‘I just wouldn’t know how to’ type of idea gremlins. Park those for a moment.

When Sir Tim Smit KBE was on Holly & Co’s Conversations of Inspiration podcast, he said, “Believe passionately that there is no barrier to you doing anything you can set your heart on.” And few people are better qualified in turning dreams into reality than Sir Tim, who created the Eden Project out of a sterile pit which has now pumped £1.9 billion into the Cornish economy. Why? Because it was his passion. So let’s help you find yours.

On average, if you’re working in the UK, you use up 80,000 precious hours of your life in your career¹. Isn’t that just far too much time to spend doing something you’re not passionate about?

Do what you love today and pursue your passion

The good news is, you probably already know what you feel passionate about. Very few people get to adult age having not discovered this. It’s highly likely you’re just not thinking of that as being something you could actually do for a living. The issue is not your niche, the issue is your priorities. You’ve not made this your goal. What would happen if you did?

In our founder Holly Tucker’s book, ‘Do what you love, love what you do’, she writes, “Some of the most successful entrepreneurs started their journey by identifying their burning passions. Jo Malone started with her nose for fragrance, Johnnie Boden CBE had a fascination for women’s fashion, and Levi Roots was driven by his passion for Caribbean food and his heritage.”

None of the things above were spurred on by a desire to make money. They were things these people absolutely loved to do; things they even felt strange about at times but it’s like when you were seven. You didn’t do things for practical or logical reasons, and certainly not because they made sense to other people. You did them because they felt good; because you felt compelled to. This is where true passion lies.

Write your passion list to find your path to success

At the end of each chapter in Holly’s book there’s a ‘Holly’s Hack’ which provides a practical exercise to help get you started. Here’s her passion list one:

Get a big piece of paper, write the following questions in bubbles apart from each other so you have space to write ‘stream of consciousness’ thoughts down and answer the following questions:

  • What were your early childhood passions? Ask your family or those who knew you growing up.
  • What were your three favourite subjects at school? Look back at old records if you can’t remember.
  • What do you enjoy doing? Think about those moments when you lose your sense of time and get into the flow.
  • What is your Mastermind specialist subject? What could you nerd out over, bore people senseless with knowledge about or what are you best known for?
  • What industries and subjects bring you alive? What do you bang on about? What topics do you always find yourself thinking about?
  • What could you read a hundred books about and not get bored? What topic do you find endlessly fascinating?
  • What would you do if money was no object? Money often holds us back from dreaming. Let go of money worries for a moment and think.
My passion list notepad
When Josh Patterson was on Holly’s Conversations of Inspiration, he explained how far away from his calling he’d become. Retracing his steps enabled him to find his purpose. He’s now on a personal mission to raise a million pounds for charity and completed 76 marathons in 76 days — what a legacy. What will yours be?
Everyone has a diamond silver background

Imperfectly perfect — remember, your passion is your diamond

Holly describes the next part of the process like this, “Think of your passion as the rough diamond. These rare stones are found 140 miles beneath the earth’s surface, just like we’ve found our passions deep within our souls. They’re the raw material, the foundation of your business, but are yet to be turned into the finished, polished article.

The sparkly diamonds we covet are carefully cut to maximise their brilliance. They have an incredible 57 facets when polished, taking up to a hundred hours to cut, and no two single diamonds are the same. In order for you to create the shiniest of business gems, you have to understand that it’s the sheer uniqueness you bring to your passion that will be the key. Your inner diamond will be, and should be, as unique as a fingerprint.

Now is your time to shine like a diamond

At its core, your diamond is made up of your passions and the many facets are comprised of your life experiences, your skills, your talents, your personality, your qualities, your expertise, your awareness of how you can be of service to the world and the purpose that fuels you (your electricity, if you like).

Once you've discovered all these elements, you can begin to think about turning this diamond into a business. As I always say, “Mine it, shine it and monetise it.”

So now go back to your passion list. Let’s think about all the aspects that will cut your diamond and make it unique.

  • What are your TALENTS?
  • What is your EXPERTISE/SKILL SET?
  • What are your life-shaping EXPERIENCES?
  • What is your PURPOSE?
Holly wrote, “Some of the most successful entrepreneurs started their journey by identifying their burning passions. Jo Malone started with her nose for fragrance, Johnnie Boden CBE had a fascination for women’s fashion, and Levi Roots was driven by his passion for Caribbean food and his heritage.”

Foster your curiosity and free your inner Alice

These are the things that make up your diamond. It’s a good idea to find someone whose opinion you respect and trust implicitly to talk to about this. Share your thoughts and get their opinion as it’s often hard to reflect on your own. You might well be surprised by what they say and this will give additional insight to consider. Your self-perceived thoughts might be another person’s winning traits. It also works the brain differently as you are the editor not the creator so it can be incredibly helpful.

Finally from here, just get curious again. Experiment. Pick up the ‘drink me’ bottle and try it (you might have drunk worse)! The best things often happen when you wobble into them. How did you discover you liked to do handstands? You just did it. Get curious and try stuff. If it feels good, do it again. Then keep going till you find the ‘best’ thing, the thing that makes your heart giggle. That’s your passion.

Fail spectacularly then try again; finding what you love takes practice

Once you’ve identified what it is, start ‘doing’. Practice and see if you like it. Hone it. Work at it. Then find out how other people did it. Julie Deane OBE (founder of The Cambridge Satchel Company) set up her business with just £600, for example. She taught herself how to code and created her logo herself in just thirty minutes. It’s about not letting obstacles get in the way as Kanya King CBE (founder of the MOBO Awards) proves when she talks about how she turns a no into a yes; by refusing to settle.

Finding what you love: key takeaways…

Once you’ve rediscovered your electricity, and the joyful energy that can drive you, don’t let anything stand in your way. After all, Gordon Parks didn’t just fall into what he did or all the incredible things he accomplished. When asked about his enthusiasm for these things, he said, “How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.” That’s how you find what you love.

1. Be brave and remove any obstacles:

As Sir Tim Smit said, “Believe passionately that there is no barrier to you doing anything you can set your heart on.”

2. Start today:

Make finding your passion your no.1 goal and priority.

3. Write your passion list, ask yourself about it and get curious:

What are your real talents and what drives you? See what excites you and you’ll soon discover what it is you love.

Always curious t-shirt

Sources: 1. 80,000 hours non-profit charity

Images: 'I’ve Got Bags Of Enthusiasm' bag — by theenthusiastandco, 'You Can Do It' card — by Department Store for the Mind, 'Always Curious' t-shirt — by A Curious Society.

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