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Pursue Purpose Not Passion

by Beth on September 20th, 2012

There is a lot of talk today about “pursuing your passion”. I just googled it and there were 4,820,000 results! I think it’s great to do what you love, but focusing on your passion is shortsighted and will not bring you sustained happiness.

True fulfillment comes not from pursuing your passion, but from pursuing a purpose. In Today We Are Rich, Tim Sanders explains that passion is self focused, whereas purpose is other focused. He tells the story of how he followed his passion for music until he realized that being a struggling musician didn’t serve his purpose of providing security for his family. Playing music made him happy in the moment, but he found greater joy when he pursued a larger purpose in life.

So how do you discover your purpose? You need to consider 3 things: what you’re good at (your strengths), what you care about (your interests) and where there is a need (an opportunity for you to make a difference). What problems do you see that you could help solve? How could you use your strengths to make a difference in something you care deeply about?

Michael Bungay Stanier defines Great Work as “work that is meaningful to you, that has an impact and makes a difference”. His book Do More Great Work includes exercises that help you do just that. They encourage you to think about what you’re good at and what matters to you, to identify where you could make an impact, to choose your Great Work project, and to take action in order to accomplish your project.

Knowing that you are making a difference, that the work you do matters, is what will keep you engaged and happy over the long run. It will give you the motivation to get out of bed every morning. So don’t pursue your passion. You can do so much more! Pursue your purpose and you will find real joy.

And once you have identified your Great Work project, pursue it passionately!

One Comment
  1. Julia Morelli permalink

    Very interesting. Passion that is meaningful and directed in a way that matters. Now that is a powerful perspective.

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