Discover Your Passion: What’s Your Highest and Best Use?

Live your passion. Do what you love and the money will follow. If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. You’ve heard this cute advice a hundred times, but what if you have no idea what your passion is? It’s time you find out…

In real estate, there’s a concept called “highest and best use” (HABU). Properties are valued based on the best use of the land that will produce the highest value. For example, appraisers may value a two-bedroom house on a busy street next to retail shops as if a strip mall occupied the land, because the best use of the property that produces the highest value is a strip mall and not a house. In other words, other two-bedroom houses in the town might be worth $200,000, but an investor may pay $600,000 just for the land in order to build a strip-mall.

When you use the other 8 hours to create, you must focus on your HABU — your unique talents, skills, and experience that produce the most value. The dead weight that so many people drag around with them is their feeling of unfulfillment at work. Part of the reason for this lethargy is that most people feel underutilized and don’t have the flexibility to do what they do best. We get boxed into positions and job descriptions that we can do adequately, but usually don’t tap into our core strengths.

This is why creating during the other 8 hours is so much fun. You create your own job description. You are your own boss and you can focus on what it is you enjoy the most and do the best. You might not be performing at HABU during your working hours, but in order to maximize your chance for success during theother 8 hours, you need to focus on projects that use your best and most unique talents. Duh, right? I wish it were so obvious.

Over and over and over again, I see people starting businesses and getting engaged in projects that are so completely outside of their best use. They focus exclusively on what will provide them the “highest” value-that is, those projects that look like they’ll make them the most money — but they don’t first consider what their personal “best use” is. I’ve seen guys who can’t set the time on their VCR (I guess I’m dating myself) try to start technology companies. I’ve seen others who can’t balance their checkbook try to start finance companies. I’ve seen somebody try to launch a video game application who had no gaming experience (and in fact, didn’t even like games).

And guess what? All those ventures failed. Why? You have to be passionate about what you’re doing or you’ll give up after the first setback. The more you love what you do the more you will persevere. Also, when you capitalize on your unique qualities and gifts, you’re making it easier on yourself. If you start something you’re halfway into or that doesn’t capture your talents, you’re making it much harder to succeed.

Exercise: How to Discover Your Passion

So what’s your highest and best use? Here’s a simple exercise you can do that will help you pinpoint where you should focus. Make three lists. On the first list, write down all of the things you are good at — everything that you do well and that you have mastery over. On the next list, write down everything you enjoy — hobbies, special interests, games, TV shows, etc. Finally, list everything that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose. Now for the magic . . . find common elements across all three lists. That’s when you’ve discovered your HABU. That’s what you should focus on in the other 8 hours.

Don’t go for the “sexy” ones just because you think they’ll be the most exciting or have the most potential. Focus on those that feel right for you — those that mesh well with your skills, interests, and greater purpose.

(Landscape image byvsz,CC 2.0)

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Diane S.
Deanne S6 years ago


Christina Kalli V.

Thank you for this article that reveals the importance of connection between our deeper, inner qualities and our actions. Many psychosomatic problems are created from the lack of real meaning in life, from the feeling of being trapped in an unwanted job or situation... It is wonderful to have fun and enjoy what you choose to do! There are always things that we can do to initiate change. We can start by feeling grateful for all the gifts that we already have.

Zee Kallah
Past Member 6 years ago

Since I had a mystic experience in 1980, my passion has been doing good. lol

I have never known such fun.

With Care2, I am no longer a lone ranger.

I belong.

We do good together. We are Rainbow Warriors.
We support one another. We hold up ideals.
We educate ourselves and our comrads.
We are many expressing as one.

Risa Light
Risa Light6 years ago

...but what if you're lost? what if you have only one desire but due to health issues or financial constraints, you're unable to do those things (thing) that you adore so very much and your life becomes nothing more than repetition and depression?

Chelsea M.
Chelsea M6 years ago

I love making pottery and helping teach it! Only on the wheel though! I would also love to open up a business which I would make as 'green' as possible!

Darla G.
Darla G.6 years ago

I would love to find an indepth process to help me truly find my HABU. Being a mom is my biggest passion but I know there is so much more I can do.

Mandi A.
Amanda A6 years ago


Christy Birmingham

I enjoyed this article! I think that as well people can find their passion by saying to themselves 'what would I do if I didn't care what anyone else thought about it?'

Bob P.

interesting thanks

Janice P.
Janice P6 years ago

I have been "passionate" about several things during my life, and have greatly enjoyed doing them. However, at some point, the passion fades and something else grabs my attention and I've become "passionate" about that. Don't know what this would be called.