Find OpportunityIn the previous article in this series, we discussed 5 Simple Questions to Find Your Passions. In this article, we unpack the second step in the passion project process: Finding Opportunity for Your Passions.

First, let’s define opportunity.

In our view, opportunity strikes when your passions meet a problem worth solving. Passion without purpose is just a hobby.

Hobbies are fine, but they are not passion projects that help with college admissions, according to our framework.

Below are 3 steps to help you find an opportunity for your passions (a detailed example of this process is provided later in this article):

1. BRAINSTORM QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR PASSION:

Spend time writing down as many questions as you can about your passions. At this point, it’s all about the quantity. You can jot down questions on post-it notes and stick them on the wall so you can see them all. If you want to get the most out of this exercise, try it with a friend or parent.

2. NARROW YOUR LIST TO 5 AND ANSWER THEM:

After you’ve finished writing down all your questions, select the 5 questions that you care the most to answer.

Here’s where the fun begins. It’s time to search for answers. Here are some tips to help you get going:

  • Read up: go online and look for articles or books to learn more.
  • Participate in online forums: find an online discussion group where you can post your questions to others.
  • Find mentors: you may have access to many experts in your community that you can approach to get answers. Talk to teachers or parents to see if they know people who may have answers to your questions.
  • Take a learning trip or conduct an informational interview: many companies or organizations will allow you to meet with staff for an informational interview – you just have to ask!

3. DIG DEEPER UNTIL YOUR FIND YOUR PROBLEM WORTH SOLVING:

Each step along your journey, ask more and more questions until you get to a point where you find a problem that you want to spend your time trying to solve. Then the next step is to write a problem statement that has these four main parts:

  • What is the problem?
  • Who has the problem?
  • Why does it matter?
  • What is the impact if the problem is not solved?

This problem statement is the foundation for your eventual passion project!

EXAMPLE:

Let’s say that you have identified your passion as cooking. You brainstorm around 50 questions about cooking and narrow them down to these 5 questions:

  • Why don’t people cook as much as they used to?
  • What makes a meal taste great?
  • Why do some people love eating veggies and others don’t?
  • Why do the majority of people really like foods that are unhealthy?
  • Why does it have to take so long to cook a great tasting meal?

To find answers to these questions, you read an article in the NY Times on how doubling the length of shelf space for fruits and veggies in grocery stores can increase sales by 30 to 60 percent. You also watch a TED Talk by Jamie Oliver on obesity and food. You then email and land a meeting with the head chef at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, a really cool restaurant in your town, to learn more about great tasting meals.

As you dig and dig, you come to this central problem that you care about enough to tackle:

One of the main drivers of obesity in the U.S. is the excessive eating of unhealthy, processed foods. Obesity greatly increases one’s risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. This has major implications on society such as early death and rising healthcare costs.  

And just like that, you’ve found your opportunity and the foundation for your passion project.

CLICK HERE to receive our free companion worksheet "3 Steps to Find a Problem Worth Solving"

Comment below to share the opportunity area that you would like to pursue.

Our next post will cover Step 3: Taking Action on an Opportunity

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