The Truth About Passion And How It Affects You

Today I’m going against the grain and asking you a question which you may have been wondering yourself lately. Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk about “finding your passion,” especially when it comes to creative work. It seems as though everyone is scrambling to uncover that perfect job that blends enthusiasm with a hefty paycheck.

But hold on a minute. Is all this recurring talk about passion, or living what other people think is a “passionate” lifestyle, free of stress or unpleasantries filling you with dread, rather than excitement? What if you don’t think you have a passion, or are just not a passionate person? Is all hope lost? Well…

You Might Call It Something Else

I confess to not really liking the word passion. As a fairly serious, ascetic person, I feel a bit silly describing myself as having “passions.” Interests, maybe. I’ll even settle for “enthusiastic pursuits.” I know. I’m a big hit at parties. My point is, different people have different motivations in life. Not everyone is equally motivated by “passion”.

Perhaps other things take precedence, like taking care of your family, or putting in the work to develop a high level of technical skill.

But make no mistake, all these concepts stem from a similar place, no matter what you think of them. We’re all motivated by something, even if it’s staid or “boring” to others. If the word “passion” is a turn-off for you, the way it is for me, you might try substituting a different word to start seeing the concept in a new way.

You Might Not See It For What It Is

It’s possible that you simply haven’t realized what your passion is yet. You might have been so busy with client work over the past couple of years that you haven’t had time to explore exactly what it was that drew you to your career in the first place.

You might look over your body of work and see nothing but a means to an end: client A pays you to create deliverable B, so that paycheck C can be transferred successfully into your bank account. That’s not a very passionate way to work. If you keep your head down for too long, you may find that it’s difficult to lift it up again.

Personal work is the great savior here. If you have something to look forward to – a little side project that’s just for you and isn’t directed by a client – you may find that it blossoms into something larger than you expected, and your entire career will be revolutionized. Photographer Chase Jarvis, the founder of CreativeLIVE, often says that “your current side project is your next major project.” So don’t forget to work on that cool personal stuff that you really love.

Realization Can Be Upheaval

Realizing what you are passionate about can take many years, and can actually cause you to completely restructure how you approach your work and career. This can be both rewarding and frustrating. You might constantly have to make adjustments to suit your ever-burgeoning passion, and end up completely worn out simply from pursuing whatever it is you think you love.

Is this the definition of finding your passion? Is it supposed to be this much work, pain, and sweat? Some people say: yes, it is. They might argue that, if you’re not hurting, then it’s not passion. But is that really true?

Do you really have to uproot your stability and your entire creative process to chase after some dream that might not be all that you imagined it to be? The grass might only look greener on the other side, after all.

Seeing The Forest For The Trees

To use more foliage metaphors (because what’s more passionate than plants, am I right?), you might be so far into the “trees” of your work that you forget to zoom out and view the forest as a whole. Maybe you initially decided your passion was web design, but you’ve gotten so bogged down with the daily essentials of securing clients, marketing, or learning complex code that it’s no longer fun.

The best way to “reset” this daily sense of drudgery is, you guessed it, to take a break for a while. Take some time off to recharge your batteries and rediscover what it was that you initially loved about your work. And if you no longer feel the same way about it than you did before, it may be time to quit – or it may be time to grow up.

Not everything is about following your fancy, after all. As the years go by, most people start to settle down and accept new responsibilities which replace the necessity of going wherever your dreams may lead you. If you can do both, great, but if you can’t, that’s great too. It’s okay to not love your work, as long as you’re finding fulfillment in other ways.

What Do You Think?

Are you sure about what your passion is? Do you think that everyone has a passion, deep down? Is it socially acceptable anymore to simply have a job, and not attempt to live passionately all the time? Let me know what you think.