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Life’s Cliché Captions: Passion vs Purpose

posted by Dan Carter November 16, 2016 3 Comments

This weeks blog post is slightly different to usual and is inspired by an incredible podcast I heard this week entitled, ‘Put your Passion in its Place’. It left a huge impression on me and really got me thinking… 

“Live your dreams”
“Follow your passion”
“Do what you love”

Heard these before? Granted, they make a great Instagram caption and are perfect tweets for your #motivationmonday. I must admit, as a content creator, working freelance and focusing a lot of my photography around ‘adventure’ and ‘travel’, I have often found myself writing and believing these cliché quotations. We speak of the desires to “quit doing what we hate and start doing what we love” but it’s only after listening to this podcast that I realised, “Oh boy, oh boy. Maybe we have got it all a little mixed up?!”

The fact is, last year I made a conscious decision to do exactly that. It was the best decision I’ve ever made but looking back, I didn’t do what I did to follow my passion. I did what I did to pursue what I believed to be my purpose. You see, passion and purpose are so easily confused. For me, passions are the activities that you love to do. In fact, Apple’s Dictionary defines passion as “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”.

Purpose is different. Pursuing your purpose is about believing there is a greater meaning behind your actions and that often, what you’re doing now is a stepping stone to something greater in the future. Apple’s Dictionary defines purpose as, “the reason for which something is done or a person’s sense of determination”.

It’s only now that the difference between following your passion and purpose has become clear: ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘intense desires’ are both momentary feelings; they don’t last. ‘Determination’ is different. This is a willingness to see something through no matter how hard it may be. How soon do you run out of enthusiasm when things get tough, when things don’t go how you had hoped?  Being passionate about what you are doing is fundamental to success but passion alone can’t be sustained. Doing ‘what you love’ can be empowering but the truth is, even when we are following our passions, we aren’t always going to love what we are doing. There will be times when the world is favourable towards us and other times when it’s not. When we are solely following our passion and things don’t go to plan, we aren’t always able to see it through because enthusiasm quickly fades.

What I understand now is that maybe we must use what we are passionate about to find our purpose. Having a purpose gives your actions meaning. You have a reason to act, to serve, to pursue even when the going gets tough. If life isn’t going to plan, if you are out of luck and unable to imagine a situation change but you are following your purpose, you have a reason to continue. This is the key: when you are living for a purpose, working for a purpose, creating for a purpose, you have the strength and determination to succeed. You have the passion to fulfil your purpose.

…because you aren’t just creating because you love it. You are doing it for a greater reason, a greater cause. Whatever that may be.

This then, is what I believe we really mean when we tell people to ‘live their dreams’. If we are to find and live for a purpose and find an intention for what we are creating, then everything we are doing becomes worthwhile. Those moments of pain become like a workout, something there to challenge and make us stronger, preparing and enabling us to face any challenges that are ahead.

So instead of following our passions, maybe we should focus on finding our purpose?

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3 Comments

Zehner, Robin November 16, 2016 at 9:54 pm

I just stumbled on your blog Dan and I think you bring on point, or you manage it, to give the reader a different view on the whole topic. Living your dream and passion are certain things which kind of belong together, but as you said passion alone isn´t often enough, most of us lose focus when it get´s hard.
I think it´s important to find a reason/purpose why we´re doing things, why we create content or (in my case) why I study, but you also have a focus on this, never lose your goal and work forward to it.
You bring it great on point, and I think that I definitely will lokk back on this post, when I´ll have any struggle.
So thanks for it Dan
regards Robin

Reply
Dan Carter November 22, 2016 at 7:32 am

Thanks for your comment Robin.

Yeah, I think you summed it up pretty well!

Hope you have a great week!

Reply
Philly December 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm

This was a very interesting post it actually give me some great insights about my own passion and purpose.

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