Passion vs. Purpose

By Hannah Aslin – MAC

verified by Psychology Today

Pop quiz: what is the difference between passion and purpose? If you struggled to come up with an answer, don’t be discouraged. These two concepts are not easily differentiated and sometimes people try to create meaning by doing something they are passionate about (which isn’t at all a bad thing) without exploring their purpose.

According to wellness entrepreneur Jessica Lauren DeBry, “passion is your compelling emotions behind your dreams. Your feelings drive your passion. Purpose is the why behind it all. Purpose is the deep reason for your existence”. In order to truly create meaning and live a meaningful life, the first step is figuring out the differences between passion and purpose.

If that quote didn’t quite stick, here are 5 differences between finding your passion and finding your purpose in the journey of creating meaning.

Passion deals with emotions

When you think about things that you enjoy doing, oftentimes you enjoy doing these things because they make us feel good, happy, content, etc. Passion is the driving force, the emotional spark, behind driving you forward with what you want to do with your life.

Purpose is the all-encompassing reason behind them

Your purpose is the reason you are doing what you are doing in the first place. Purpose is that sometimes hidden motivation behind why you do what you do to find meaning. Your purpose is ultimately the foundation upon which your passion is constructed.

Passion can be selfishly motivated

Although passion isn’t always selfish, it does have the capacity to be driven by selfish motives. Pursuit of a passion can be for your own pleasure and can be self-indulgent. We follow our passions because it feels good and we enjoy them and sometimes that turns into putting ourselves before others.It is helpful to remember that purpose(s) are for the long term and are truly what allows for us to create meaning for ourselves.

Purpose is focused

It is helpful to remember that purpose(s) are for the long term and are truly what allows us to create meaning for ourselves.

Purpose holds a significant focus (whereas passion can be all over the place and exciting) and is singular and very specific. The purpose is one thing that will help to bring about a sense of fulfillment, completeness, and meaning. It is important

Passion is the “what” and purpose is the “why”

Passions revolve around the nouns, the things, or the “what” (art, dance, music, etc.) you are passionate about. Purpose is fully about the “why” – why are you drawn to this purpose? Purpose has everything to do with your motivation to do whatever it is that gives you that sense of meaning and fulfillment.

Although passion can help to shape and form your personality and characteristics, purpose will take you a step further in shaping and forming your identity. Purpose completes you and creates meaning.

Passion and purpose are both equally important ingredients in our lives. Without passion life would be boring and dull. Without purpose, our lives would be aimless and there wouldn’t be any direction. Both passion and purpose are vital in moving forward toward making meaning and living our best, authentic, and successful lives.

With that, I will leave you with this quote: “if you wanted to start a campfire with passion and purpose, you’d start with the foundation of wood (your purpose), and start the flame with a match (your passion)” …you need BOTH.

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