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Why You Don’t Need to Find Your Passion to Do What You Love

Why You Don't Need to Find Your Passion to Do What You Love

If you want to find a job you’ll love, you probably think you have to start with things you love.

You’re most familiar with passion-based careers. These sprout from the “follow your bliss” and “do what you love” schools of thought. While I cheerfully endorse any path to a meaningful career, the passion route doesn’t pan out for many people, and then they hang their heads and go do something “practical,” which is code for killing me softly + a steady paycheck.

A common passion-based mantra is that “If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” This is simply not true; no matter what your career is, there will be days you don’t wanna do it, or have tasks you don’t enjoy but simply must get done. I find this particular phrase harmful, because it leads you to believe that if you ever feel like you’re working, you’ve missed out on your passion. And that if you’re not making your passion your career, you’re doing it wrong.

If the internet had a roof (The Huffington Post?), I would climb to the top and say,


Oh, what what? You don’t have to find your passion to do meaningful work? NOPE. YOU DON’T.

*climbs down from rooftop*

If you know I don’t think you have a Purpose, you better believe I don’t think you have a Passion. You can have many passions and care deeply about a lot of things, but I don’t think you are limited to working around one capital P, star-crossed Passion. So you don’t need to find this mythical creature in order to do work that moves you. Capital P Passion is another notion that I find downright harmful, because it’s tantamount to believing that you have to find an honest-to-gard UNICORN before you can get going on a career that you love. More nope.

You can be passionate about a purpose-driven career. You can feel purposeful about a passion-driven career. So what the heck is the difference?



Passion-driven careers are about the relationship to self.

They tend to put your own enjoyment first. This is not a value judgement; again, there’s nothing wrong with the passion-driven career that works for you. Unfortunately, this is where the starving artists hang out. Love of an art, craft, or subject comes first, and swept off your feet, you try to find a way to make money from it. “If I could just paint/write music/take photographs all day long…” is how is starts. I hear you. That sounds amazing. But as professional painters/song writers/photographers will tell you, the reality doesn’t look like your fantasy.

You envision days on end of reveling in your craft, feeling filled up by the act of creation. What your art does for other people is an afterthought, and maybe even an inconvenience because you have to figure out how to get people to buy your stuff. Ugh! Unless you know the score going in, you probably go through a phase (maybe a loooong one) where you grunt about life being unfair and daydream of a world without money.

There are passion-driven people doing amazing work in the world. Some have even managed to make a good living at it. They have embraced commerce and price tags and have probably made incredible sacrifices. Hats off. They’ve done all this to support them getting to enjoy the thing they are passionate about. At the core, it’s really about them.


Purpose-driven careers are about relationships with others.

You can still enjoy a purpose-driven career, but how you connect with and help others is what leads you to explore it. With purpose-driven careers, the thrill comes from making a difference for someone else. It’s about contribution, connection, and inciting change. It’s for the question askers who want to know, “Is this all there is?”

It’s probably not a love-at-first sight career like passion-driven ones are; a purpose-driven career may court you for a long time. They’re a little shy and can be hard to recognize. While the passion-driven are often plagued by the question “How can I make money at that?” the purpose-driven often wrestle with, “Is that even a real thing?” For example: “I’d really love to help [this kind of person] who wants to achieve/experience/do [this kind of thing]. Is that a real job?” (Answer: Probably!)

The big myth about purpose-driven work is that only certain kinds of work count. The truth is, purpose is a very personal thing, and any career, as long as it’s congruent with your personal sense of purpose, can be purpose-driven. What makes it grounded in purpose is not the subject matter, but the connection to others and motivation for doing the work.


T/F: All artists are passion-driven.

FALSE: Passion-driven is not about the subject matter, i.e. art, fast cars, swimming; it’s about the relationships. Any career can be purpose-driven or passion-driven; it depends on the person.

T/F: Purpose-driven careers are better then passion-driven careers.

FALSE: The career that is meaningful and provides for you (in every sense) is the superior one. How you get there is not important.

T/F: If I do what I love, I’ll never feel like I’m working.

FALSE: Did you read any of this?

T/F: If following my passions has been a dead end, I should take a look at a purpose-driven career.

TRUE: Starting with purpose can lead to options you never would have thought of, and you’ll still be plenty passionate about what you do.

  1. sage@sagegrayson.com

    February 19th, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    YES! I completely agree with this idea, and I’ve written several blog posts about how passion isn’t the be all, end all. I love my business, but it’s definitely WORK! And anything worth having is worth working for. By the way, the Purpose Paradigm is awesome. 🙂

  2. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    February 19th, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    Thanks, Sage!

  3. singsthemagpie@gmail.com

    February 19th, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    This is lovely advice. Thank you!

  4. beautyanna08@mail.ru

    February 19th, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Great article, full of insights, Laura!
    You nailed it with this one about passion-driven careers: “What your art does for other people is an inconvenience because you have to figure out how to get people to buy your stuff. Ugh!”
    Totally! That’s what feels icky when you try to just market and sell what you’re passionate about!

    As for the purpose-driven work: Often, my passion comes when I actually start doing purposeful work. And it might take some time to recognize the meaning, as you say: a purpose-driven career may court you for a long time.
    And sometimes, it’s about bringing meaning into the work we’re doing, it’s about making some adjustments along the way, and it may not happen overnight, but it’s well worth it!

    Otherwise, you will be looking forever for some kind of elusive, “perfect work that doesn’t feel like work”!

    P.S. I’m checking The Pupose Paradigm quite frequently, to make sure I stay on track with my career!

  5. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    February 19th, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Anna, agreed that passion comes when you start doing purposeful work. So glad The Purpose Paradigm can serve as a bit of a compass for you!

  6. chavaleh7@yahoo.com

    February 20th, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Oh my goodness…this is EXACTLY the post I needed to read right now!! I have been struggling with defining THE Passion of my life, or THE purpose of my life, and until now, didn’t really have a great handle on the difference between the two.
    The funny thing is, now I see that the subjects I am passionate about, are also the ones that I absolutely want to build relationships in and help others excel in (hence my purpose!) Yeeeeeah

    Lady, I am so glad I found your site! 🙂

  7. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    February 21st, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Chava, I’m glad you found this place, too. Welcome!

  8. Anonymous

    February 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 pm

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  9. Anonymous

    February 26th, 2015 at 1:02 pm

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  10. marlenapearl@gmail.com

    March 2nd, 2015 at 12:19 am

    You just blew my mind… I’m still digesting all of this and mulling it over, but I know showing my sincere gratitude is the first thing I should do!

  11. laura@yourcareerhomecoming.com

    March 2nd, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks, Marlena! Glad this idea is making you think.

  12. Anonymous

    March 25th, 2015 at 11:31 am

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  14. Anonymous

    October 26th, 2015 at 11:57 am

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  15. dylanreidm52tu@gmail.com

    December 10th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    This article is perfect for any 20-something! There is more than enough information about why you should start a career based off of a passion or to go quit your job and travel to Thailand.
    I have the means to do both but for some reason I resist. I believe I resist because I value the things that I ACTUALLY HAVE in my life. Family, amazing girlfriend, and even smaller things like my love for day to day menial things. This may be the more difficult road to go down sometimes but when in search for meaning. Dig deeper, find a better more meaningful job (Real estate for me, was in car racing safety sales.) that cultivates relationships and helping people. Build a new career based passion off that concept so you can structure your life to do what you love! Thank you for this! I’m 24 and there is a lot of information out there. It can be tricky which ones to take with a grain of salt. Thank you!

  16. info@honeylane.ca

    December 13th, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    I completely agree with you. I used to think that because I wasn’t particularly passionate about any one thing that I was missing something. But now I realize that as long as I’m pursuing my purpose-driven career passionately, then I’m doing just fine. Thank you for sharing this.

  17. Anonymous

    January 2nd, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    […] I wouldn’t want you to. I don’t do sparkly, and I don’t do unicorns. […]


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