You’ve probably heard something like this before: “Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.” If only that were true! Whether you’re hard at work on your side hustle, reaching the next milestone in your career, or launching a brand new biz, we bet you’ve already figured out that working on something you love can still be super rough from time to time. Being passionate about what you do definitely helps though; it can keep you inspired when you might’ve given up otherwise, and it’s more fulfilling than staying the course when you’re in the wrong job. Not sure what your true professional passion is? We talked to author and speaker Cortney McDermott to uncover some creative ways to surface yours. Read on for the deets.

1. Take a trip down memory lane. “Can you remember what you loved as a child, what lit you up?” McDermott asks. “For me, it was my Cabbage Patch doll and performing (especially Michael Jackson songs) for anyone who’d watch. Today, I get to mother a real-life daughter and have moved my performances to the TEDx stage.” McDermott tells us that, like in her case, the great thing about finding your passion is that you might not need to go looking for it. “It’s always there, waiting for you to tap back in and set it — and yourself — free,” she says. Looking back on your childhood loves can be a great window into your most unfiltered self.

2. Let your feelings lead. While talking with McDermott, we touched on the idea that many of us have been trained to believe that passion is something you need to DO, rather than how something makes you feel. She uses the example of volunteering to highlight the point. “Say you’re passionate about giving back to your community. You might volunteer for a park cleanup or become active in your local election; two very different ways of cultivating the same feelings of connectedness, generosity, and involvement. When you lead with a desired feeling, as opposed to a material result, you stay super open to ways that feeling can surface in your life.” If something makes you feel good, take note and try to find a way you can do more of it or incorporate it into your work; it’ll make a big difference.

3. Get to know your heroes. McDermott says another easy way to figure out what your passions are is to think about why you admire certain people. “Picture one of your heroes and write his or her name at the top of a sheet of paper,” she suggests. “Now, divide the paper into two columns, using the left side to write out that person’s core traits and strengths. Then, on the right side, list their passions.” The final step? Cross out their name at the top and write your own name. “That’s *you*,” she says. “The attributes you assigned to that person represent your most deeply held values and ambitions.” Wow!

4. Create a passion board. “Vision means ‘to see clearly in the present’,” McDermott reminds us. “It’s not some far-off goal that you have to strive and struggle toward. It’s your current potential, which is unlimited. So close your eyes — what can you imagine for yourself?” She tells us that you can make the most of what you envision by creating a passion board that’ll help you home in on what you feel called to right now.

“This doesn’t have to be super complicated or involve any glue,” she promises. “This year, for example, I cut out a 10×11-inch piece of cardboard from an old box, drew 12 boxes to represent the twelve months of the year and then used different colored paint markers to write down what I felt deeply called to create each month.” We love that all of her “vision” pieces came to life this year, including the release of her first book Change Starts Within You ($15). Pure awesome.

5. Tune in to how you feel. “Did you ever play the hot and cold game with your friends when you were a kid? The one where the closer you got, the more ‘warm’ you were? It sounds silly, but this is still a great way to know if you’re on the right track,” McDermott informs us. “A cold, stomach-dropping (or detached) feeling probably means you should hightail it out of there. You’re in the wrong spot! Instead, your inner guide will let you know you’re getting in touch with your passion with a warm, fuzzy (or bright-hot) feeling.” Remember to check in frequently with the truth in your body; it’ll lead you in the right direction.

Have you uncovered a passion or calling? Tell us how you knew something lit you up and how you’ve made it a part of your life on Twitter @BritandCo.

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