I’ve spoken a lot lately about discovering your passions and finding your purpose, but I’ve been missing this one important distinction.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been exploring the topic of passion and purpose in some depth. I’ve shared how to identify your “passion sweet spot” by finding the intersection between what you’re good at, what you enjoy doing and what the world needs.
I’ve explored an alternative model by suggesting that perhaps we don’t have a unique purpose, but rather multiple mission/methods of achieving one universal purpose of personal mastery.
I shared the best advice I’ve ever received for achieving anything you want.
And last week, I discussed how to find your passion when you have no idea what you want.
But as I was writing that last article last week, it struck me that I’ve been making a simple, yet critical mistake when talking about this topic.
I’ve been confusing passion and purpose.
Or perhaps more accurately, I’ve been using the two interchangeably.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
This might not seem like a big deal, but I think knowing the difference between the two could help a lot of people who are feeling stuck and unsure how to find “their thing”.
If we look at the formal definitions of the two, it’s clear that there’s a difference:
We can see that passion is defined as a strong and barely controllable emotion. I would simplify it even further and describe a passion as something you care and feel strongly about.
On the other hand, purpose is defined as the reason you were created. This suggests a bigger calling and why you were put here on Earth.
The reason this distinction is important is that based on the above, it is quite possible (and most probable) that you could have multiple passions throughout your life.
For example, I’m really passionate about health, education, personal mastery and entrepreneurship. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the thing I was created to do.
As I mentioned in my interview with Hanna Bier, it seems like there’s this pressure nowadays to monetize all our passions, but there’s nothing wrong with doing something as a hobby (in my case, working out or developing myself).
So before you start reading articles about finding your passion or finding your purpose, I think it’s a good idea to step back and ask what we’re actually trying to figure out. Because, as I’ve mentioned above, the two are completely different.
If it’s your passions you’re trying to find, I would go back to what you enjoyed doing as a child, as well as experimenting with things that interest you today (hence the name “passion projects”).
However, if you’re trying to find your purpose, that’s where we come back to the intersection of those three areas:
- what am I good at?
- what do I love to do? (including your passions)
- what do people need?
In other words, passion is just one piece of that puzzle, it’s not the whole picture.
This is another reason why it’s not wise to simply follow your passion, but rather your purpose.
The real problem, I believe, is that we’re not spending enough time learning about ourselves, or we try to find our identity in external things. We spend hours each day on social media, creating a false reality in our minds of what our lives should look like.
Instead, we should be cultivating self-awareness to really get to know how we are, what we want and why we’re here.
I hope that sharing this distinction helps in your journey, wherever you are along it. It’s a distinction that is too easily overlooked in personal development content but helps to separate two completely different questions.
Are you trying to find your passion?
Or are your trying to find your purpose?
OVER TO YOU…
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