So Your Job’s Not Your Passion? That’s Okay

At some point you’ve probably heard the idea that you have to love what you do or it’s not worth doing. But what if that’s not the position you find yourself in? If you can say your job is your passion, that you love everything about what you do, then congratulations to you! But, there are many people whose jobs and passions don’t align. If that sounds more relatable, consider what it means to work independent of your passion, and what else can drive you to a fulfilled career.

Keeping Passion Separate

Having a passion in life does not mean it has to be your whole life. When your passion becomes your work, it can be really difficult to walk away from it to find work-life balance. If you pin the pressures of money and success onto your passion, you’re most likely creating a high-stress situation. At the same time that you’re creating that stress, you’re giving up what was once an opportunity for stress relief. If you’re not careful, this could very easily lead you down a path to burnout.

Engaging in your passions in a way that’s healthy can have a strong, positive impact on the job you’re doing; even more than if your job and passion were one and the same. Business leader Katie Thurmes said,“You can’t do a good job if your job is all you do.” Being in balance with your passion allows you to focus on what exactly about it you love, leading you to feel happier and more engaged. Whereas being preoccupied regularly by your work and passion combined leads you to feel controlled, overworked, and potentially trapped with no outlet.

Recognizing Fickle Emotion

It’s important to recognize that as strong as passion can be, it’s not a sustainable force. Passion moves with you as you grow and learn throughout your life. Passion is emotional. It focuses on happiness and excitement, but the sources that bring us those feelings can change over time. That’s why passion might not be enough to drive a career. In your life and in your job, there will be ups and downs, good days and bad, boredom and excitement. Even if your job was your passion, there is no guarantee that everyday will make you happy. That’s why defining your purpose is much more pivotal, and you can use that to serve as a much stronger initiative for your work life. Being able to relate back to your purpose, a reason or intention behind what you do everyday, will offer you more encouragement and direction; especially in times of challenge and perseverance.

Finding Purposeful Motivators

When it comes to defining your purpose and applying that to your career, you can still look to your passion for inspiration. Consider how the feelings and actions that drive your passion are more sustainable than the passion itself: learning new things, taking on a challenge, taking pride in hard work, connecting with others and creating worthwhile outcomes. These are examples of  

the kinds of goals that can be set and projected onto your job that will help to validate you, and help you feel like any work is fulfilling. At the end of the day, any skill or job can be learned but the approach is what someone can really take pride in. Entrepreneur Robert F. Smith said, “The most important thing I think you can do as a young person…, is to become an expert. To be skilled in whatever it is that you’re desirous of pursuing. That takes countless hours and, in some cases, outreach for knowledge and information, and in some cases, it is building a learned capability. To me, there’s no substitute for that….There’s no substitute for becoming an expert and being the best at your craft.” You don’t have to have an exact passion for what you’re doing in order to be great. If you have ambition, work ethic, and a desire to learn and grow, you will most likely find gratification and be more than willing to set your mind to any opportunity that arises.

Passion is exciting, by definition. It’s a strong emotion. Passion is alluring. Yet, the idea that passion is a requirement for happiness in your career is an idea that can hurt you in the long run. Passion isn’t always enough to help you overcome obstacles that you will inevitably face. Worry less about chasing a feeling. By embracing your purpose at work, and your passion in your personal time, you can open yourself up to a new and better perspective on your career.

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