Like many Millennials, I was told I could become whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. Before the age of ten I cycled through dreams of acting, singing, and becoming a veterinary pharmacist (true story).

Trying to find my passion was a near-obsession that followed me into adulthood. Ironically, all along I ignored what was naturally good at, including my knack for empathy, my love for writing, and an incurable curiosity about human behavior.

They say hindsight is 20/20, so today I clearly see how these strengths shaped my career. But for a long time, I searched for my passion as if it was a lost treasure chest that I simply needed a map to find.

Why Finding Your Passion Is a Myth

Despite what we’re told, passion is something that unfolds over time. It’s discovered through life experiences. Your “dream job” isn’t an exact destination, either. It’s constantly evolving. The ideal career when you’re in your early 30s may eventually become a poor fit, even by the time you turn 40.

So what do you do if you have no idea what your passion or life calling is?

First, don’t panic. Finding your purpose doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a messy, iterative undertaking that takes time, patience, and a healthy dose of self-reflection. You’ll get there, but you have to start by taking small steps.

That starts by asking yourself some key questions about how your past experiences, struggles, and triumphs have shaped you.

Powerful Questions to Uncover Your Purpose

For each of the prompts below, write for a minimum of five minutes. Don’t censor yourself. Write freely. Jot down whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly it seems.

  • Name the top 3 peak experiences in your life. What do they have incommon? What does this tell you about yourself?
  • If money weren’t a problem, what would you spend your every day doing?
  • What dreams have you given up on? Why? Did fear play a role? Did your values change? How can you rekindle forgotten interests?
  • What is the hardest thing you have ever had to overcome? How did this influence you?
  • What activity are you doing when it feels like time flies by?

These powerful questions can help you strip away limiting beliefs to find your true calling — work you find deeply meaningful. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, but it will be rewarding.

At the end of the day, introspection isn’t enough. You have to take consistent action to make your dreams a reality. But when you take the time to look inward, you may be surprised by what you find. Your passion might have been waiting there all along, just waiting for you to light the spark.