Passion vs. purpose, which one is more important? The answer to this actually has an answer backed by research: it appears that, at least when it comes to your professional life, what really matters is purpose.
But of course, there’s more to this.
There are differences when it comes to these two concepts, even though some people still find them confusing. You’re told to find your passion and your purpose. Both drive you, but in what ways? Can you have one without the other, or do you need both to live as your most authentic self?
Passion can exist without purpose, but it’s fleeting. Purpose can exist without passion, but a life without passion becomes dreary, no matter how impactful it is. A successful life is one without regrets, spent pursuing what you love and making a difference.
The relationship between these two concepts is, at the same time, both simple and complex. Keep reading to learn everything about passion and purpose and how to live with yours.
Passion Vs. Purpose, What’s The Difference?
Passion vs. purpose – this isn’t the right question to ask. To lead a meaningful life, you need both, so instead of having to choose between the two, you should look for answers on how to bring your sense of purpose into the things you do and how to develop your passions.
Having a purpose gives you a sense of achievement, whereas having passion gives you a sense of joy. Together they give you a chance to make an impact and feel excited about living, helping you experience a fulfilling life.
Doing what you love while making a difference is the true meaning of life.
Here are some tips to help you understand the key differences between passion and purpose and learn how to live a life that has both. Spoiler: you don’t have to look for either.
1. Purpose leads to happiness
Having a purpose that inspires you to accept challenges, to pursue interests, to give it your all is the road to happiness. Knowing that what you’re doing with your life is worthwhile and that you’re connected to something bigger than yourself is what gives you a sense of achievement, fulfillment, and, ultimately, happiness.
2. Passion is joy
While having purpose and living in a way that aligns with it is the road to happiness, passion is what gives you joy in day-to-day endeavors. Hobbies, activities, and people you’re passionate about brighten your life and make even a difficult task doable because they’re inspired by the overarching purpose.
3. Purpose is about solving a problem
Your purpose is about connecting what you do with what you’re meant to do. The problem you need to solve is how to make this happen. For instance, if you’re meant to teach people something, and you’re not a teacher, how can you make it happen?
If you dedicate time to mentoring others, for example, you’ll feel like you’re living in accordance with your purpose.
4. Passions are developed, not found
You’re not born with passions. As you learn things throughout life, some things catch your attention and become interests. For those interests to grow into passions, you must pursue them without giving up.
However, even something that didn’t pique your curiosity at first can become a passion if you’re guided by your purpose. You can choose to develop something you’re good at or something that’s useful into passions because it’s connected to your purpose.
5. Purpose is your contribution to the world
To feel like your life has meaning, you want to have an impact on the world in some way. Once you realize in what way exactly, it will become easier to be thankful for what you have and use it to achieve your purpose. Your every day will be important if it’s dedicated to contributing to the world.
6. Passion comes from opportunities
All of us have endless potential, and there isn’t just one thing that you’re going to be passionate about in your life. The seed of passion is planted when you seize an opportunity instead of waiting for a perfect and completely developed passion to fall into your lap.
For example, you realize that you’ve been following a lot of chefs on social media even though you don’t cook. Instead of thinking that if cooking were for you, you would have learned by now, use this opportunity and realize that you’re drawn to it for some reason. It might be your next passion.
7. Purpose is your own vision of success
When you find your purpose of life, you can define what success is for you. What society tells you to strive for is no longer important if it doesn’t align with what you believe in.
Because you know what you’re here to do, you can set your own goals and create your own plan of personal development, achievements, and milestones to follow that will move along with your purpose.
8. Passion is compelling emotions
Passions can be lifelong or short-term, developed fully or made obsolete, serving your purpose, or destined to be replaced, but they’re always driven by your feelings. Purpose without passion can make you feel like your life is strict and free of enjoyment, so living passionately is important for your mental health.
What Are The Benefits Of Having A Purpose?
Morten Hansen, a management professor at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted research studying 5,000 managers and employees over 5 years and examined the relationship of passion and purpose to job performance.
The employees who had both passion and purpose – enjoy their jobs and believe it has meaning – placed, on average, in the 80th percentile in the performance ranking reported by their supervisors. Those who only had purpose without passion – don’t like their jobs but believe it’s worthwhile – placed in the 64th percentile.
Without purpose, however, job performance quickly plummets. The employees with a passion for their jobs but lacked purpose placed in the 20th percentile, only 10 percent above those who had neither.
So it seems that according to this research, purpose matters more, but take another look at how those whose work is inspired by both passion and purpose perform far better than others.
Hansen calls this intersection of purpose and passion “P-squared”: purpose and passion combined result in focused energy and exponentially increased performance.
How To Live With Passion And Purpose
“Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose.” – Oprah Winfrey
If you sit around waiting for inspiration and motivation, sorry to say, but it’s not going to happen. Eureka moments don’t come without putting in the work that serves as a basis for realizations and ideas. Both passion and purpose come with effort.
If you choose to live your life with passion and purpose, it will give you a whole new perspective on life. You’ll stop asking yourself what you’re doing with your life and instead start to learn more, contribute more and enjoy it more.
This is how to find your true passion: Do things. Pursue interests. Don’t give up. Get good.
Passion isn’t something magical that’s going to change your life once you discover what it is. It’s simply something you’re interested in that you practice. Something you love to do. It doesn’t mean that it’s never going to feel like work or that you’ll have an innate talent for it.
We’re led to believe that if you don’t know what to do with your life, you haven’t found your passion, and once you do, everything will come together. It’s something you hear about or read about, but not what happens in real life.
In reality, passion isn’t something you’re born with that you only have to discover. Interests aren’t fixed – they can change, grow, and wane. You hear about things that seem interesting, then invest time and effort into developing your passion.
The concept of passion in the sense that it’s something you would do even if you didn’t have to is misleading. Being passionate about something doesn’t mean that you don’t need hard work and that you’ll always be motivated to do it.
Thinking like this will only make you give up once things get difficult, hopping from one interest to another, never really giving yourself the time needed to develop the passions you have. Even when you’re deeply passionate about something, you can’t underestimate the importance of discipline.
Passion is more than just something you love and that you’re good at – it’s something you develop to fulfill your purpose.
This is how to find a purpose: Look for meaning in the things you already do. Identify your values and apply them to your work.
Don’t wait for it to come to you, but simply change your perspective and decide in what ways what you already do can have a purpose. If you’re like most people, your purpose is to have a positive impact on the world. How you choose to express it is where you’re different from others.
Seeking meaning, passion, and purpose might seem like a pastime for someone who doesn’t have to work for a living. If your purpose is to make the world a better place, how can you possibly do it by working a job you don’t particularly like every day?
By knowing that your work affects others. By connecting how what you do contributes to a greater good. By understanding that your work matters. By ensuring that your work is in harmony with your beliefs.
What about the quote above, then – how do your passions lead you to your purpose? By asking yourself why you’re drawn to certain things in the first place, and why they give you the energy to work on them when others don’t, they will point you in the direction of what it is that lies beyond.
If you focus on what you want, what you like, and what makes you want to take on challenges, you can figure out why it’s precisely that and not something else. By following the thread of why you’re drawn to some things and not others, you can more easily figure out where it all comes from.
What Really Matters?
It’s not passion vs. purpose, but passion and purpose.
Purpose gives you a connection to something greater than you, a sense of contribution to a better world, and motivation to push forward. Without passion, however, it can make you feel empty and joyless, never stopping to just live.
Passion gives you energy and joy; it inspires you and makes you stand out, but without purpose, it can become unstable, unreliable, and aimless.
Together, passion and purpose are the road to happiness – a sense of fulfillment and belonging suffused with enjoyment and vigor.