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What if Your Passion Becomes a Chore?

What If Your Passion Becomes a Chore?

Awhile ago I asked readers what they were afraid of when it came to finding a career to call home.

Erin wrote:

“Though I’m surrounded by many who are pursuing their heart’s calling, I’m petrified. More than anything else, I fear that my passion will become a task, a burden, and something to be resented. In essence, it’s a fear of my passion losing its spark and becoming a chore.”

Well, can I ever speak to that!

When I started out as an actor, I loved what I did so much that I would take on all kinds of inconvenience, debt, and sacrifice to make it work. After years and years of that and some pretty major priority shifts, I was less willing to do the “ugh” stuff that came with the territory.

Drive to Burbank for an audition? No thanks. Dry my hair for the camera? Bah. You mean I have to get there during rush hour? Sigh. (I might still be an actor if it wasn’t for traffic and hair.)

Mind you, this was in response to opportunities that at one time I would have killed for. But once I was over it, I was over it. I still loved acting, but all the stuff I had to do to actually get to the acting part (marketing, appearance, networking, driving, headshots, mailings, workshop, etc.) overtook my love for the work. I was tired of being a professional, and just wanted to do plays with my friends.

I think this is a not uncommon story for people who pursue passion-driven work. And that’s why I advocate purpose-driven work.

What’s the difference?


Passion-driven work tends to be about activities that bring the doer personal enjoyment, and purpose-driven work is usually more about relationships.

Passion-driven: “I love painting, and so I will be an artist!”

Purpose-driven: “Art can heal people, and so I will be an artist!”

Think about the long-term marriages or relationships you admire. Of course passion is an important component (we hope!), but couples who go the distance have something that binds them together that’s stronger than passion’s heat.

Purpose is that binding something for your career.

Your sense of purpose can evolve, but it’s not likely to burn out like passion does. People in the non-profit world may have their gripes, but “I’m SO OVER saving children in Romania” is not one of them.

Purpose fuels you in a way that passion can’t.

And no, you don’t have to do some Mother Teresa career for it to be considered purpose-driven. You could be a purpose-driven musician, corporate executive, or garbage collector; it’s not in the job title, it’s in your connection to the work.

But let’s come back to the core idea of monetizing something you love.


Ask yourself:

  • Are you prepared to treat the thing you love like a business?
  • Can you make decisions from a CEO point of view, rather than from the point of view of a hobbyist?
  • Are you willing to spend more time on the admin, marketing, and business-building of your passion than actually doing the thing you love?
  • Do you have evidence that it’s possible to earn a living from your passion?

Here’s what one client discovered:

“When we did our work together my photography was something that came up for me as an option. But then I realized that I didn’t want to deal with photography CLIENTS. I didn’t want to be in the business of photography, and I didn’t want to hustle to do my photography. I just wanted to express myself and enjoy it.

That was really helpful because it allowed me put to rest this story I had that if I didn’t follow that passion I was somehow not living my ‘dream.’ I got really clear that having a ‘photography business’ is not my dream; my dream is to have a life where I have the time, space, and energy to do my photography. Making that distinction was deeply satisfying.”


So, Erin, if you’re reading:

  1. Consider shifting your focus from passion-driven work to purpose-driven work.
  2. Get clear on whether you want a career around your favorite things, or a life that supports you doing your favorite things.
  3. Remember that (gulp) it’s all one big experiment and you can change your mind anytime. I did, and I’m still standing. Not sitting. In a car. On the way to Burbank. With lots of hairspray in my hair.

Do you worry about turning your passion into a career? Let me know in the comments.

  1. lilyscloset@earthlink.net says:

    Glad I am not the only person who struggles with determining if I should just have a job that pays the bills and do what brings me joy on the side, or simply live doing what brings me joy. The first choice is safe, but brings limited time flexibility and freedom. To spend my days creating beauty through makeup artistry, fashion styling, interior and event design for the joy of creating, not for someone’s approval, that is my dream. I have no clue as to how to do this and earn a living, other than working a job or winning the lottery, but I hope some day I will be able to figure it out and live it.
    Thanks for this post.


    • Monica, I hear you. I think that’s the struggle so many people are faced with.
      Just remember that if you want to make a living at something, you’ll always need someone’s approval. Every time a makeup artist gets a gig, it’s because someone approves. Every time an interior designer gets a client, it’s because someone approves. Approval = money.

      If you want to create without consequence, you want a hobby. If you want to create and earn a living, you have to make sure that what you create is valuable to others.

      Keep seeking!

      • lilyscloset@earthlink.net says:

        Thanks for this, Laura. It puts everything into perspective. I guess I’ll have to win the lottery!

  2. deidreewong@yahoo.com says:

    Hi Laura!
    Love this topic, especially the concept of shifting passion to purpose. I’m interested in learning more. Are you offering Career Homecoming Workshop soon?


  3. mfurtado2go@gmail.com says:

    Laura, YES 😉 Monetizing one’s passion is not for everyone, but it doesn’t have to mean living a life without passion. There’s nothing wrong with letting your passions be the place where you go to just PLAY…

  4. I so appreciate the distinction you make between passion and purpose.
    I can see how my passions have been intertwined into the work that I do and perhaps more so now than ever. Knowing that my purpose is ever changing (though much of the foundations stay the same), gives me a freedom to try new things, go with the flow of what I’m feeling and it takes the heaviness out of work for me.

    Purpose has it’s connection in service to the people…you’re so right about that Laura.

    • The connection to service and people is crucial in my way of thinking. If you read any of the Joan Rivers interviews and tributes going around, it seems like, for her, comedy was about giving something to other people. Sure it gave her a high, but it came from the connection to others. That’s purpose-driven. It doesn’t have to be any loftier than that.

  5. When I first saw the headline, Laura, I thought, “nothing is without hardship and the inconvinience, we just need to have perseverance”. But then when you explained the difference between passion-driven and purpose-driven, I started to get exactly what you mean.
    I’m a painter, and this is from my artist statement:

    “So it is my hope, that my art can shine our path when we walk into a dark valley, that my paintings may bring joy, strength and hope to our hearts when the life sometimes disappoints us, and remind us that our world is beautiful.”

  6. Hi Laura, so glad to have read this! I am just in this transition – my dream was to self employed and work at home, and while we have successfully built our business, I lost the passion for what we were actually doing. This past week I have come to realise that I need to feel purpose and that I actually miss ‘going’ to work and working with others, but it took a long time to realise the dream I had created was not actually the right one. Now on to making the changes!Emily

  7. Laura, thanks for such clarity here. I have many passions and have been struggling with what kind of business to build around them. But with the distinction between passion-driven and purpose-driven work, I am getting clearer on how to proceed. I especially love the relationship analogy: passion can fizzle out but a purposeful bond can be fulfilling for the long run. Some of my passions are surely ‘just for me’ so I can take those off the list of biz options. Other passions are truly done with a purpose, for the gift they can bring to the world. I can’t wait to hear more about your upcoming course! Thanks.

  8. jennifer.m.flanagan@gmail.com says:

    I have always felt like a cop-out not “dreaming big” (that other post that got such wonderful comments for a reason) and not “going after my passion.” I have always thought in a round about way that if I started doing it as a “I have to survive” it would stop being a place to express myself and start more of being a business. I don’t want my current day job to suck up the things I love by becoming second “day” job.
    I would like to think that there is room for everyone’s passion to express themselves and enrich others lives (whether or not that brings that person his/her income or whether or not that person does other things). There is a disservice to the world when we think that every passion must be pursued to the point of “it’s my career/job.” How much we would all miss out on if that was the case.

    I am still working on the purpose thing for myself though I know that every day I am getting closer. I know this because days are more open and full of promise – no matter what they are filled with. Thanks so much Laura for writing about all of this. I love seeing the new stuff weekly.

    • Thank you, Jennifer. And for the record, I don’t think there anything wrong with pursuing a passion-based career *as long as it works for you.* For me, and for the people I teach, that hasn’t worked out. Glad you’re inching towards something that feels like home.

  9. Thank you for speaking about this topic. I wanted to say “I wish you wrote it sooner”, but I’m pretty sure if I read it a year ago I wouldn’t get it anyway.
    This was the very topic I was coming to terms with for the past year, since I’ve gone full-time self-employed.

    My dream was to be a professional artist. My ideal way of earning money would be to just paint whatever I want to paint, and for people to buy my originals and license my work for books and music albums.
    I wanted to create my own graphic novels and picture books, because even though I enjoy illustrating other people’s books, it’s just not as fun as imagining my own worlds and beings.

    I’ve actually had some success with it in the past, so I thought that all I needed was to hustle and things will eventually work out.

    My “hustle” didn’t go so well. I realized I don’t want to just paint day in and day out. I want my art to be a place of healing and wonder. I want to keep enjoying it for years to come. But when something becomes “a job”, it’s hard to find that same spark of passion every single day.

    So I started looking for the Purpose component, although I resisted it big time!
    It was difficult to give up the dream of being a full time professional artist.

    I did a lot of soul searching, and in the end I found several viable options of how I could create a more purposeful career that would allow me enough time, energy and money for me to pursue my personal projects.

    Now I’m on the path of realizing this new dream.

    And if my art and graphic novels happen to sell… well, that’s all the better 😉

  10. Anonymous says:

    […] What if your passion becomes a chore? >>> […]

  11. Anonymous says:

    […] Simms shines new light on old work/career paradigms and will help you understand the role of passion vs purpose when considering a career […]

  12. Anonymous says:

    […] purpose fuels you in a way that passion can’t. […]

  13. Anonymous says:

    […] What if Your Passion Becomes a Chore by Laura Simms at Create as Folk This really spoke to me, especially as I (still) sometimes beat myself up about not teaching contemplative writing, etc. But, recognizing that my passion was in a different space gives much more space (and compassion). […]

  14. I enjoyed this post Laura, and I’m sure it’s a niggle at the back of most of us who’re thinking about attempting to make money from something we love. I’m exploring this area now, having changed from 14 years of corporate life to a digital nomad freelancer (I’m writing this from Cairo, I was in Dubai last week, Thailand the week before, and I head to the UK next week 😉 ) and I like this different slant on the concept. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I love this on so many different levels! “Your sense of purpose can evolve, but it’s not likely to burn out like passion does.” – that is so timely for me right now! Great article to come take to heart and put into action! Thank you!

  16. Anonymous says:

    […] purpose-driven job, as well. As an actor, I frequently questioned the bigger worth of my pursuits. I enjoyed it, but did it really matter to anyone else? I don’t question that now. I know that I help […]


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