Passion Vs. Purpose: How to Find True Happiness in Your Career

Start asking advice on how to figure out what career you should pursue, and you'll likely have a lot of buzz phrases hurled at you.


Find your passion.

Discover your purpose.

Follow your dreams.


It's no wonder that my new career clients always come to me with lots of confusion around what line of work would best suit them.


Now don't get me wrong – passion and purpose are key factors for deciphering which career choice will be most fulfilling for you in the long run. But in order to get there, you need to get clear on what each of those words mean.


Here's a breakdown of what "passion" and "purpose" mean for your job search -- and how you can begin to identify each of them.


1. Passion


We use the word "passion" to describe a lot of different circumstances. Passion is what you feel for your significant other. It's the driving sentiment behind soap operas and telenovelas. "Crimes of passion" can actually get convicted killers a break in sentencing.


...But we're not talking about those kinds of passion.


When it comes to your career path, passion is the feeling of being compelled to go above and beyond.


When you think about your work, classes and overall experiences in life, what instances do you find yourself going the extra mile?


Maybe it was your child's turn to bring a snack to share with the class, and you found yourself using icing to decorate 25 cupcakes with the faces of different animals. In this example, there are lots of passions being put to use. For example, the passion to be artistic – to create something from your mind's eye and make it into a reality. Also, the passion for cooking, and for sharing that treat with others. Have you worked in a creative field before? Or with food? In this example, both of these might be fields to consider exploring.


Another way to identify your passion is to ask yourself, "What makes me want to learn more?"

Take a look at your Google search history. What have you searched for lately? Likely, it's a long list, but pay attention to the places where you dug deeper. When you were searching for paint colors to redo a room in your home, did you find yourself going down the DIY rabbit hole of all the different ways you could apply it?


Both of these examples provide clues to what you're passionate about. If you like to work with your hands and are always looking for new home projects to take on, a job in design or even project management may be right up your alley.


2. Purpose


Passion is the thing that you're driven to do. Purpose is the force that drives you.


To break it down further: Purpose is something that you feel pulled toward. Something you're compelled to do. Whereas, with passion, you find yourself putting in extra effort for a task that you have to complete.


Purpose is the drive to complete something that you haven't been asked to do, but feel the need to do anyway.


One way to identify this is to take a look at what the people who are close to you come to you for. Are you known to be the person who can help talk your friends through any family or relationship problem that they're experiencing?


If you're the maven for advice, helping people might be your purpose. You feel called to take the time out of your day to help someone untangle a problem or overcome a challenge. Have you thought about a career as a counselor?


A different way to determine this would be to ask yourself, "What comes easily to me?" This could be something that you do in your current role, like your ease of mastering functions in Excel, or amping up Powerpoint presentations with compelling imagery. Your purpose is something that should come to you almost naturally, and will continue to serve you throughout your career. If you find yourself called to add relevant images to every presentation that passes your desk, a role in account management, where you're creating many different client decks could be something that you thrive in.


The key equation for the right career fit is to find one that aligns your passion with your purpose. Now that you understand the meaning behind each of these as it pertains to your job search, you'll know just what that career looks like for you.


Knowledge is power, am I right?

Mary Beth Ferrante