How to Find Your Passion

We hear a lot these days about how to find your passion and follow your bliss. It’s easy to find your passion. You do it by understanding your values, which determine your attitudes and how you value (positive) or judge (negative) the issues, situations, and people in your life.

Thomas Leonard, the founder of CoachU and Coachville, once said that when we’re feeling satisfied our needs are being met and when we’re feeling fulfilled our values are being met. When you align your life around your values, you will find the happiness and fulfillment that may be eluding you now.

So what are your values? What are the passions that lead you to action and determine what you do with your life?

Eighty years ago, a psychologist by the name of Eduard Spranger identified six values or attitudes we all have to varying degrees of intensity. They are Theoretical, Utilitarian, Aesthetic, Social, Individualistic, and Traditional.

The two you rank highest in are your passions, numbers three and four are situational, and you will tend to have an indifferent or negative attitude toward people who are high in those you rank as numbers five and six.

The Six Personal Values

Theoretical. If this is your highest value, you have a passion for knowledge – knowledge for its own sake. Your goal is discovery of truth and you believe everything must be rationally justified. You like doing research, reading, studying, learning. You believe as Frances Bacon did that, “Knowledge is power.”

Utilitarian. Your goal is utility and what is useful. You are practical and will maximize your assets. Your passion is a return on investment of your time, talent, or resources. You will enjoy a career in sales or become a CEO or an entrepreneur. You measure your success by how much money you earn.

Aesthetic. Your goal is to experience your inner vision. Your passions are beauty, balance, form, and harmony in all aspects of life. You like for things to run smoothly and may feel more stressed when faced with adversity than most people. You must be surrounded by beauty as you define it. You are profoundly interested in the arts and/or nature and may choose one as your lifetime career.

Social. This means humanitarian, not sociable. You believe service to others is the highest calling in life. You are compassionate and would give your last dime to a homeless person. You must have a career or lifestyle that provides you with opportunities to serve.

Individualistic. You are driven to use power and position to achieve your goals and advance your causes. Your passion is to control your own destiny and the destiny of others. Status and authority are important to you. You will be a captain of industry if your Utilitarian value is also high, or serve in the military or law enforcement if your social or traditional values are also high.

Traditional. Your goal is to search for and find the highest meaning in life. Your quest is a system for living. You believe in a higher order of life and consider yourself religious or spiritual. You like order and structure and need to do meaningful work that rewards quality service.

When we differ with the values of the people in our homes and workplaces, conflicts arise. In fact, I believe our most serious conflicts between people are the result of values differences. Just look at the rancor between those who identify themselves as liberal or conservative, for example.

A deep understanding of these six values and knowing which are your highest can help you in many ways. Application of this knowledge can help you choose a career or find work you truly enjoy; resolve conflicts with others and within yourself; hire, manage, or mentor others; achieve more personal growth; and decide which direction to go to be who you truly are.