Discover your passion? Or find what makes you happy?

A trending topic right now amongst young and seasoned professionals is discovering your passion. The words Do What You Love are splashed across billboards, etched on notebooks, and paraded around on t-shirts. Finding your passion, and certainly doing what you love, is a nice thought. But we’re going to challenge this notion that doing “what you love” is the most noble thing you could be pursuing.

If finding your passion was as effortless as following what makes you happy, it would be extremely easy to find the right career for yourself. If you love reading, you’d work at a library. If you loved cooking breakfast for yourself, you’d work at the cafe around the corner. If driving your car makes you happy, you’d be a taxi driver. Easy as that. But that isn’t always the case, is it?

Every human has an inherent need for purpose.

It is woven within us just like our DNA. Psychology Today writes, “…having a strong sense of purpose can have a powerful positive effect. When you have a sense of purpose, you never get up in the morning wondering what you’re going to do with yourself. When you’re ‘in purpose’ – that is, engaged with and working towards your purpose – life becomes easier, less complicated and stressful.”

If you’re having a hard time separating the two, let’s personify passion and purpose. Passion is a young boy who wildly and recklessly plays with his toy cars, every second he can. He’s so happy when he can pull them out and race them around the living room. Purpose is that same young boy, but grown up, and now engineering cars for a company like Toyota or Chevy. He smiles every time he see’s one of his cars drive by on the road.

Discovering purpose often means putting in the work, having tough skin, and not giving up.

If your purpose is being a teacher, your day’s, in reality, won’t always look like the end scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus. Many of your days will look like you leaned over piles of assignments needing to be graded, or sweeping up a classroom, or tutoring the same student in the same subject over and over and over again. These things may not make you jump for joy, but all of the little tasks that come with being a teacher give you a deeply rooted contentedness.

The irony here is that your purpose doesn’t always make you happy.

If your purpose is raising a family, you might not always feel happy to wake up to feed the baby at 2am. If your purpose is writing a book, sitting down in front of a blank page might be the last thing you want to do some days. If you’re always chasing the feeling of happiness, there is a chance that you might miss your purpose. And just like in the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus, you’ll find yourself wrestling with your purpose. The questions might be flashing in your mind, “Am I changing anything?” “Should I give up?” “Does what I do matter?” If you’re in the throes of wrestling with those questions, here is something for you to do:

Determine your “why.”

Finally, ask yourself, is what you’re doing for a career is really worth it? If you’re truly living in your purpose, the answer will always be yes, and you’ll be able to enjoy the journey.

-The Wolfgang Career Coach


Happy, Do you wake up happy?

Amy Wolfgang

Amy Wolfgang is a career coach who founded Wolfgang Career Coaching and co-founded Coaching 4 Good. She brings over 15 years of corporate and coaching experience to help organizations boost employee engagement while simultaneously helping her clients excel in their careers. She is a certified PCM (Professional Career Manager) and has a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin.

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