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The Difference Between Passion and Purpose

By October 24, 2016February 21st, 2018Private Musings
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Passion, purpose and the path between — what’s the real secret to living a fulfilled life? Do all the questions you hear about purpose and passion lead you farther away from a resolution?

Themes and opinions on the topic vary, leaving speculation to whether they’re the same thing and if they last a lifetime.  Do you even really have to know what your purpose is? The concept of following passion was supposed to lead to living our purpose, right?!

So many questions!

Here’s one more:  what is your life purpose?  Everyone on this planet was born with a specific purpose to live their life. It is different than passion. Yet the two facets of life — purpose and passion — interact with each other in a lovely dance. Together, regardless of the words you use, they will lead to a fulfilled, authentic life — at work and leisure. Success, by your definition.

What is the difference between passion and purpose?

Both passion and purpose are essential but here’s the difference:

Purpose is the reason we were put on this earth to live.

Some aspects of purpose include:

  • It’s why we get up in the morning.
  • It incorporates our values, strengths, talents, and abilities.
  • With the unique fingerprint that is us, we give back an element of ourself in some aspect of service to others.

Passion is the fuel that drives us. Its characteristics include:

  • Enthusiasm, energy, drive
  • Creativity
  • Inspiration
  • Motivation

Passion can fuel our purpose and serve as a guidepost to figuring it out if we’re unsure. It can even stand in for purpose at times we’re feeling a bit lost — because when we’re in the throes of creative inspiration, it can feel like purpose. It can propel us out of bed in the morning to the exclusion of all else.

Who cares?

Why should you even care about making the distinction if passion can get us excited about living and both are important for a fulfilled life? Because once you are able to articulate your purpose in life all the pieces fall into place — even the tiniest ones. Passion can’t make that happen.

Knowing the reason behind why  behind what you do provides an all-encompassing peace-of-mind and happiness. It soothes anxiety when daily stress hits and provides a constant path when the inevitable downturns and grief of life occur.

How to figure this one out

We’ve over-complicated this topic in general. If we live according to what we love to do, thereby following our passion, we are inherently moving towards living our purpose if not already living it.

The distinction is that we may not have stated it. Once we are able to clearly define what it is we will consciously devote our precious life’s energy and time to, we’ve opened the door to peace of mind. If we aren’t able to put it into words yet…

Enter passion

When we clue in to the aspects of life we feel passionate about, we become aware of what is important to us. Passion then serves as a signpost to give us clues, working with our gut instincts. It tells us clearly which aspects of life that have the most significance for our life.

Passion also gives us motivation and energy that we need to move forward. When we’re passionate about something, we become enthused and take care of any tasks in order to devote time to our passion. This energy-fueled motivation is also why passion is sometimes confused with life purpose.

Life purpose compels, energizes, and motivates us as well. The difference is that passions can be completely self satisfying.

The missing piece

Maybe you already know your purpose and live your passions. Does something feel like it’s still missing?

That missing piece is likely service to others. Until you share your gifts with the world you aren’t fully living your purpose. Your light is still hiding under a rock until you bring it forward. The world is waiting!


Would you like help rediscovering your mental toughness and clarifying your life purpose? I’ve created many resources to help:



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