It’s already hard enough to find a career you really jive with. Somehow, by the end of high school, you are expected to choose an immediate track towards your life’s career. You are supposed to know what you want to do with the rest of your life — but most of us don’t.
So we search for what will make us happy — what will make work not feel like “work”. We grapple with what we are passionate about and hold on to some belief that we must be passionate about our career in order for it to be fulfilling.
The problem is that we often assume that what we are passionate about needs to bring us joy — and this is where we slip up. We daydream about the “perfect” job. We dream about a life where we can do what we love, what we’re passionate about, and make money off it.
But we forget that to make money off what we love, what we’re passionate about, we have to do a LOT of what we don’t love. Our passions become less enticing once they are coupled with late night work, time away from family and friends, money management, healthcare, taxes, legal work, and every other untold requirement that comes along with making an actual living off our “passions”. It can make the standard 9–5 workday seem a lot more forgiving and a lot less terrible.
So are we just doomed to either destroy our passions or retreat to the daily 9–5? No.
But we do need to change the way we view achieving our purpose in life. Instead of focusing on our passions, we should be focusing on building a career around what we are opinionated about.
We all have opinions, and a lot of them. But we have few opinions we are willing to take a public stance on — and back it up with action. Sure, we can make a Facebook post about how much we like/dislike the current events of the world. We can post, we can march even, but few of us do the individual work required to make lasting and impactful change.
And that’s understandable! We shouldn’t feel the need to take action on everything we have an opinion on — that would be exhausting, and likely unfulfilling.
But if we feel the pull to make lasting, impactful change, we should pay attention to it. Because when you have a strong enough opinion on something — strong enough you are willing to make a public stance, take action, and do the work to make real change, that is the work that will drive you and push you to do great things, regardless of how unglamorous that work may be.
The long hours, hard decisions, and clerical work doesn’t seem so bad when you are driven by a strong desire to make a true impact on the world around you. Especially when that impact is fueled by your own solid opinions and beliefs, and not just based off of what you find interesting, fun, or immediately rewarding.
The first step is to be honest with yourself. What do you love doing? Do you have a strong opinion on it? Strong enough to build a life around it? If not, it may just be a passion. But if so, it could be your true purpose.
Does this mean your true purpose has to be something you love? No. But you do need to be in love with the change you are trying to make.
So let’s evaluate what we believe — and allow our passions to remain separate.
Now if your passions and opinions line up, then you are truly lucky.