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Passion Vs. Purpose: What Should Come First For The Job Seeker?

St. Louis Post Dispatch career column

Below is an excerpt from my latest St. Louis Post-Dispatch Career Column.


As a Career Coach, the “passion or purpose” question is my version of “the chicken or egg” query — which comes first?!

Let’s take a step back. Many people think of purpose and passion as the same thing, but they are actually quite different.

Passions are things we love, but they aren’t always relevant to our careers. For example, many of us are passionate about things like football, musical theater, cooking or landscaping.

COULD there be a career path in these areas? Of course. But if we’re honest with ourselves, those of us who aren’t destined to be a pro athlete or a chef usually know deep down when these things are best classified as hobbies. We know when there isn’t a realistic, tangible connection between this passion point and our career. We’re either not athletic enough (or too old!) to be a professional athlete, we don’t have the singing voice to be on the stage, or we simply don’t have the desire to take our cooking or landscaping interest beyond where it already is.

A purpose is different because it truly motivates us to do what we do professionally, going beyond just something we really like. But it’s often very hard to put your finger on your purpose. Let’s start by looking at what kinds of questions will NOT help us realize our true purpose:

• How much money can I make?

• What perks or benefits come with the company?

• Can I earn a big bonus or commission check within a short period of time?

• How fast can I advance?

Why do I say these things can’t determine your purpose? Because while these are “motivations” to work, they will never be the things that give you true satisfaction and joy in your career.

True purpose starts by identifying where your interests, natural abilities and acquired skills/education cross paths…

Read the rest of this article at its original home here.