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Purpose, not passion

I think I have probably written about this before, and could probably put in the effort of searching through my posts, but I’m not going to because I feel like writing about this today regardless. (Side note, I can’t believe I’ve actually accumulated enough posts that I can no longer keep track of them. This is the first time I’ve ever stuck to anything like this so consistently. I might have to go through and tag them or something so I remember what I’ve written. My concern with this is that then I’ll remember what I’ve written and feel shy about it and psych myself out about writing more.)

I want to revisit the idea that purpose is more important than passion. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while as it relates pretty closely to my feelings on what I consider to be the whole traditional career path and head start fallacy. It’s also been very relevant to me since hayfever season has begun and all of my inspiration and enthusiasm has completely disintegrated. Every day has been a mental struggle lately (and yes, I have taken an antihistamine).

There are two books that I’ve read that cover this really well (Ego is the Enemy and Range) and I’m sure there are many more. Seth Godin did a little riff on it on Instagram this morning, although he refers to it as work before passion. He wrote:

offer me a chance to contribute, and I’ll work hard on it, with focus, and once I begin to make progress, I’ll become passionate about it.

This pretty much describes my approach to work. I would never describe myself as being passionate about pharmacy, but I am drawn to the work because, if you do it ethically, it’s making a positive contribution to society at some level. It’s not like working for a tobacco company. It has a purpose that I value.

It’s ok if you don’t feel passionate about your work. It’s ok if there are days when you have to drag yourself along and push yourself to get going while others are all peppy and excited about the day ahead. But it doesn’t mean you have to get stuck feeling that way. It’s a bit like the whole discipline/motivation thing. If you feel that you are doing work that matters, that is serving a need for someone, then that is a purpose for doing it. This purpose doesn’t have to be high level, it could be helping someone understand how to use their medicines properly, or being helpful when a nurse asks you a question rather than grumpy and rude. It’s not your passion for doing the work that matters. What matters is that you show up and you optimise your contribution. That’s where fulfillment comes from.