How to Give Your Life Meaning


Do you believe you’d have more meaning, purpose, and drive if you could just find your passion? Do you look at people more successful than you and presume they succeeded more because they were lucky enough to find their passion; and that if only you were so lucky to stumble on something to drive you, you’d also succeed?

I propose a different perspective: that we create passions, not discover them. We discover things we like, which become passions by our devoting more of ourselves to them. Not all things we like will resonate as much the more we devote to them, but we don’t know how they’ll play out until after we devote ourselves to them, so we have to devote ourselves to things we know won’t pan out.

  1. Find things you like
  2. Devote yourself to some of them
  3. Take them as far as you can until you lose interest or can tell you like other things more
  4. Over time, notice you get farther with experience (though you also have to let go of things you’ve devoted yourself increasingly more to)
  5. You’ll also get sensitive to increasingly subtle things you like
  6. Eventually you’ll find something you want to devote your life, or at least a big part of it to. Other people will think you stumbled on your passion. You’ll know all the devotion to all the projects you let go was necessary to create this passion—that is, you’ll know how much work, time, loss, and other resources you put into creating it

Since most passions involve working with others, developing social, team, and leadership skills help a lot, as does self-awareness.

Just don’t believe that sitting around waiting for passion to find you will help.

Passivity repels passion and vice versa. Activity creates passion and vice versa.

Professor of NYU
Joshua Spodek co-founded and led several ventures. He coaches and teaches leadership, entrepreneurship, sales, and related skills at Columbia Business School and NYU using experiential, project-based learning. He holds five Ivy League degrees, including an Astrophysics PhD and an MBA, and studied under a Nobel Laureate. He helped build an X-ray satellite for the European Space Agency and NASA, and holds six patents. His current passion is developing methods to master business's soft skills, even for geeks like him.