Passion and purpose have been coming to my attention a lot lately. In July, I asked my Facebook friends, “What’s your passion?” Secretly I was hoping to find more folks for my Passion Project series, but what I got was a variety of responses, including:
- Facilitating awakenings
- Making the sale
- Leading a healthy lifestyle
- Loving Jesus
Many people claimed multiple passions. Some said their passion was “helping people” do things like reach their fitness goals or create beautiful websites. Others said they were still figuring it out.
Because I’d gotten such a strong initial response, I asked another question: Would your answer change if I’d asked “What is your purpose?” For most people, it would have.
Cassandra Rae of Petals of Change replied, “You know, Kate, I might not have even answered the question if you’d used purpose. There is a pressure that comes with purpose whereas there is a freedom around passion.” Thanks, Cassandra, that’s how I’ve always felt about the terms too.
Career coach Ariane Hunter, who I call a purpose expert, added, “I think purpose takes on both the light and darkness of the human experience. Purpose is the being more than the doing. To me, passion is what you do, purpose is what/who you are being. It’s like an unfolding that reveals who you truly are.”
Laura Simms of Create as Folk shared still another viewpoint in a recent blog post, that people don’t have a purpose! She explains, “Objects have a purpose. A hammer is for putting nails in. A couch is for sitting. You are a person. Can we agree you’re more complex than a hammer? Than a couch? When you put the pressure on yourself to define your Purpose, you give yourself an impossible task. So don’t worry about finding your Purpose.”
As you can see, there seem to be a lot of disparate opinions about passion and purpose, which led me to contemplate the definition of each. Merriam-Webster says:
Passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.
Purpose is the aim or goal of a person: what a person is trying to do, become, etc.
Reading the definitions of passion and purpose helped clarify a lot for me. You, too?
Suddenly purpose doesn’t seem so weighty and pressure-filled. In fact, it has become downright direct:
My purpose is to be the best version of myself I can be which, as Ariane pointed out on her blog, is “constantly unfolding and revealing new layers of depth.”
I’ve said before that I believe we all do the best we can with our current understanding of the world. Therefore, it could be argued that we are all living our purpose each and every day, in everything we do, as Ariane has suggested. If we think of purpose that way, it becomes something we don’t have to go looking for at all; it is fundamental to our being.
Since purpose is taken care of, what of passion? I say your passions are the place to dedicate your time and, yes, I believe you can have several. I certainly do! When we seek out and live our passions, I believe we will find the true meaning of our lives.
And so I’ll end where we started: What are your passions?
If you’re still figuring it all out, artist and type designer Sean Wes has some tips.