Is passion over-rated? The key to happiness may be adjusting our expectations.

“Do something you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” “Make your passion happen.” We get this advice constantly — during career development sessions, from family and friends, and from motivational quotes on social media.

Is passion necessary for career and personal happiness? That’s something that is up for debate. There is some research showing that loving your job helps boost satisfaction. However, our preferences and passions can change over time. Sometimes, making passion a job can make you fall out of love with something.

Let’s discuss the pros, cons, do’s, and don’ts of finding and pursuing your passions.

a woman sitting at a table holding a tablet and laughing

How do I benefit from finding my passion?

There have been a few studies that link passion and happiness. One, published in 2015, said engaging in activities you enjoy during leisure time lowered stress and boosted happiness. In a 2019 study, researchers found that having a life purpose caused people to lived longer and more fulfilled lives than those who did not feel their life had meaning. Having a career you enjoy or participating in activities you love outside of work, such as volunteering at an animal shelter, can help you find a purpose.

Are there any drawbacks to pursuing a passion?

Our passions change over time. Think about it: as a child, you may have constantly changed what you wanted to be when you grew. One day you may have wanted to be a teacher, the next a doctor, and the next a pilot. You may continue to do this as an adult. Perhaps you’re passionate about writing and go into journalism but over time find it’s not fulfilling. You may feel like you have to stick with it because “it’s what you wanted” or what you studied in college. However, doing this can lead to resentment and dissatisfaction.

Also, sometimes when a passion becomes a career, it starts to feel like a job. Babysitting once per month and working full-time at a daycare center are two different things. Sometimes, it may be best to leave passions as hobbies and engage in them at a frequency that is most fulfilling to you.

Finally, not all jobs are created equally. Some pay better than others, and not everyone can afford to pursue a passion full-time. Also, some jobs require longer hours, so people may not have hours to devote to a hobby (though it’s good to take me-time, which we’ll discuss).

woman taking photos in woods

How can I find and pursue my passion?

Your passion doesn’t have to be a career, but there are substantial benefits of finding things you enjoy, even as a hobby. Let’s discuss ways you can go after your passion in an attainable and maintainable manner.

  • Look within yourself. Think about the happiest moments of your life. Where were you? What were you doing? Why did you enjoy it? Maybe you loved playing on a soccer team growing up because of the camaraderie. You join a local league or find similar kinship by doing a group exercise class.
  • Make time for it. Life is busy. If your passion is a hobby and not a career, you may find it challenging to devote any time to it. However, it’s important to prioritize yourself. If you’re a nature lover, carve out time to eat and walk in a nearby park during your lunch break. Love animals? Walk dogs at a local shelter every other week.

What should I be careful of when pursuing my passion?

Finding your passion is beneficial, but you’ll want to avoid a couple of common missteps.

  • Don’t make it your whole life. Even if your job is your passion, it’s essential to have an identity outside of work and extra-curriculars. Jobs can come and go, and burnout is real. Same with hobbies — devoting all of your free time to volunteering with a non-profit can be taxing, no matter how much good you are doing for others. Having other favorite activities can keep things in perspective.
  • Avoid setting impossible standards. You may love bike riding, but your chances of competing in the Tour de France or getting paid to do it may be slim to none. Despite the pressure to pursue a career you’re passionate about, it’s important to be realistic. It’s OK if the activities you love most in life are ones you do outside of the office.

Many will tell you finding and pursuing your passion is the key to a long, happy life. Evidence supports the idea that finding meaning in your life can help you live longer and that doing things you love increases well-being. However, it’s not so simple, and managing expectations is essential. For example, pursuing a passion as a career can be a luxury. Not everyone can afford it. What’s more, our interests change over time. Sometimes, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Pursuing something you love as a full-time career or becoming very committed to a hobby may make you fall out of love with it. It’s not all or nothing, though, and it is important to make time to do things you love. Going out for a 20-minute jog, even if you’ll never run an Olympic marathon, or taking an art class once per month can be rewarding. You deserve that time for yourself.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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