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What Is The Difference Between Purpose and Passion?

The Difference Between Purpose and Passion

“Am I more than the sum of every high and every low?”

Singer Lauren Daigle asks in the second stanza of her song, You Say.

This line perfectly sums up what you might wonder when trying to grasp the difference between purpose and passion.

How does passion differ from purpose? Can you have passion without purpose? Does passion result in purpose?

So, in this guide, we’ll explore the differences between purpose and passion.

Disclaimer : The information provided in this site is for educational purposes only, and it is not a substitue for professional advice. See the full disclaimer for more details.

What Is The Difference Between Purpose and Passion?

While purpose is the underlying intention behind our actions, passion is the powerful combination of emotions that you have for wanting to take certain actions or the pleasure you derive from taking those actions.

Here’s the deal. It is possible to like something but not be passionate about it. Passion extends beyond merely liking something. If you are passionate about something, you are thinking about it more than anything else, for example.

Think of the things you enjoy doing most. It’s most likely that they make you feel good. They interest, intrigue, and pull you in. It is those exciting feelings that help drive you forward. 

Then there is purpose.

Your purpose is the real reason you do what you do. A person’s purpose or life motivation reflects in the long-term decisions they make, which define how they live. 

For those still uncertain, here are three differences between purpose and passion for helping you redefine your life.

Passion is tangible whereas purpose Tends To Be hidden

While passion is the emotional spark that enables you to enjoy something, purpose is the sometimes hidden reason you make particular decisions repeatedly. Passion is what brings you emotional excitement, and purpose exudes internal drive and lasting fulfillment.

In other words, Passion is the immediate feel when you do activities you like while purpose is something deeper and more complicated that needs to be clarified. Therefore it is recommended to start a self-discovery practice, and not just delay it for later or wander around your path just like that (as I used to do at the beginning of my self-discovery journey).  

Purpose is the “why” while passion is the “what”

People often define purpose as a goal they intend to reach—that it has yet to occur. However, purpose is not a destination or a future goal. It’s an ever-present commitment to continue living life a particular way so that you can achieve a fulfilling outcome. Purpose is the reason behind what you strive for in the long-term. 

Contrary, passion comes from a burning desire for something or to engage in a particular activity. Vlogging, music, art, or running are all things you can be passionate about. However, purpose is why you’d want to do these things on a grand scale or for the rest of your life. It can be to entertain or teach, but never just to pass the time.   

Passion is often about you, while purpose is about making a difference

Passion drives emotional fulfillment, so it is easy for people to indulge in it to experience personal joy—regardless of how this affects others. Purpose is often a way to make a difference in your own life and those around you.

That’s why some people refer to a purpose as a calling, even though they are slightly different. Rather, purpose involves achieving personal joy through driving social change that improves the lives of others.

While feedback can change a passion, it strengthens your purpose

Think of purpose as a mission and passion as the tactics or strategy to help you get there. You can always change how you approach a mission (strategy and tactics), depending on the feedback you get from mentors, peers, customers, and even bosses. But your mission remains the same.

Though your passion can change over time, what you purpose to accomplish rarely changes over several years or even a lifetime. Your purpose is often so intertwined with your strengths and talents that it feels like an integral part of you. Learn how to identify your strengths and talents here to help you identify what you already possess that can help you accomplish your mission. 

You can have many passions in life but few purposes

Lauren acknowledges in her song that passion can fluctuate like a flame from activity to activity and from every high and every low in life. However, purpose often endures for many years, or the rest of your life, spanning several passions.

To put it another way, you can have different passions at different times in your life, but the same purpose (intention) behind each of them. Desires can be fleeting, but purpose stands the test of time. 

According to a 2019 Harvard study, those who focus on their purpose report finding the resilience they need to succeed. 

Your purpose motivates you to persevere despite challenges, temporary failures, fear, boredom, draining work, and negative criticisms.  

Here is an example of how it works in practice. 

The job you do maybe your passion. You may lose the desire to wake up every morning and go to the same workplace after working for a terrible boss for a while. Many people experience this. But even with considerable savings, they do not simply quit their jobs. 

Why not? 

Some stay on to gain more experience, intending to become better leaders.  

Other people stay because they want to earn more income to care for their aging parents, send their children to school, or contribute to a charitable cause every month. 

These purposes enable them to endure a not-so-exciting period of their lives for a greater purpose than themselves. 

So, what comes first; passion or purpose?

When people do not have a burning desire to do something they are naturally attracted to, they often feel frustrated. 

Here’s the thing. 

Purpose is the wood that passion burns on. It is what keeps the fire of passion burning. Often when you set out to do something, passion will catch up along the way because you are doing what aligns with your deepest values and the meaning of life to you. 

Passion is the icing on the cake. Purpose is the cake. 

You can also think of purpose as courage and passion as confidence. Most people believe that confidence breeds courage. But it is the courage to try something scary, selfless, or demanding that breeds the confidence to go after even bigger aspirations.

Over To You

Passion and purpose are both essential to building a fulfilling life. Thus, it is not so much about choosing between passion and purpose as it is about combining both to follow a life path that you find meaningful and fulfilling.

What’s our best tip to find your passion or purpose? 

Take note of what naturally draws you in so much that you can do it repeatedly without ruining your life. If you can identify at least one such activity, it may be your passion. Next, see if it makes both your life and the lives of others better significantly. If it does, you can pursue it as a purpose.