so your passion isn't your purpose. now what?

If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.
— Bishop T. D. Jakes, author, pastor & filmmaker

Existential crisis alert! Existential crisis alert! This just in: doing what you love does not always, a purpose make. Sometimes in life, we are fortunate enough to stumble upon our passion. But discovering one's professional purpose? Well that can actually be an entirely different journey altogether. If we're diligent enough though, it's very possible for the two come together.

Show of hands. As you've progressed in your professional career path, have you ever thought to yourself: "Man, it feels good to finally have gotten to a point where I get to do something I really love for a living!", and then a few short months later, you think:

 GIF courtesy of

GIF courtesy of

Well... that's sort of the frame of mind I'm in these days. Don't get me wrong - I'm fully aware that I've been blessed with the opportunity and stick-to-it-ness to pursue a passion of mine; but nowadays I find myself sometimes wondering: "Now what?", "What's next?", and "Does this actually mean anything in the grand scheme of my life?". I'm beginning to question what it is I'm meant to be doing, as opposed to simply pursuing what I love to do. If both of these things aren't one in the same... how can I bridge the gap and get them to connect, like four?

 GIF courtesy of  usatoday

GIF courtesy of usatoday

I watched a YouTube video the other day by vlogger, Shameless Maya called "How to Find Your Passion and Not Get Stuck." In the video, she delivers a timely gem with regard to separating what you love to do from what you're meant to do. Like myself, as a creative, she has interests in various forms of artistic expression; but she quickly found that pursuing one of those interests as a career did not bring her as much joy as it did when it was just her hobby. She says:

I had to make the distinction between things I enjoy doing as a passion [which for me is photography] versus things to do as a career. That’s something that you have to discover on your own journey... Something you enjoy for yourself. Do you want to turn that into a business & make money of it? I did that with photography & then I realized: I don’t wanna freakin do this for a living. I wanna do this as a hobby.
— Maya Washington (aka Shameless Maya), Actor, Creative Producer and YouTube Star

This then got me thinking: if writing is something I really enjoy doing as a hobby, should that automatically be something I choose to pursue as a career? My feeling on this right now: I don't know.

Under the most ideal of circumstances (i.e.  if I were writing for my own publication or for a company that I really connected with on a personal level), I'd say, of course. Why not? But when in your daily job, you find yourself putting out content that you don't really connect with (or content that doesn't  much sound like you),  you may start to wonder if your passion is suddenly getting dimmed by demand. The thing you once loved to do naturally, all of a sudden, becomes this thing you have to do to keep a roof over your head.

As absurd as it may sound, I think doing what you love to earn a living can at times actually end up costing you your passion down the line. And who wants to lose their passion? Certainly not me! 

So what's the fix, you ask?

Well, one way to try to reconcile your passion with your professional purpose is to  start assessing what other things bring you joy in life (outside of what you're most passionate about) and hone in on those leads. Think about things that you always found interesting or cool but haven't yet pursued seriously. See if there's a way to integrate one or two of those avenues into your current professional trajectory. Maybe, just maybe... you'll end up with a new fulfilling professional purpose while still protecting the sanctity of your most valued creative outlet(s).

I think we can all agree that in an ideal situation, our passion wouldn't feel like work. We get paid to work because it requires a certain set of learned skills, ongoing effort and segmented brain power. We get paid to extend ourselves beyond what naturally comes easiest to us. Expecting for our passion and our work to be in seamless alignment isn't always realistic (though  it does happen for a select few).

The good news in all of this, though? It is  still possible to love what you do for work, despite it not being your passion. As humans, we are multi-faceted beings, and chances are, each of us has more than one skill that we can tap into and excel at in a professional capacity, if we just take the time to figure it out. That's where my head is at these days: trying to figure out how to truly enjoy my job without cheating on or short-changing my passion.

To whoever said "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life"... respectfully sir or madam:

Shaolin Says.

Shaolin "J" Style


Creative writer. Professional ranter. Canadian-born. Caribbean blood. Probably the worst introvert you'll ever meet.