The age-old axiom that you should do what makes you happy is excellent advice, but how practical is it? When it comes to choosing a career, you may hear plenty of conflicting advice to either follow your passion and potentially struggle or select a realistic but predictable field that offers security but lacks inspiration. What is the better choice? Should your passion become your career?

Contrary to cultural opinion, money is not necessarily synonymous with success. While a secure position and salary are at the heart of most people’s desires for a career, many people feel that tradeoff isn’t worth it in the end when they find themselves feeling trapped in a dead-end job that lacks purpose.

Money is well and good --- and necessary --- but it can’t buy time, your most valuable asset. Therefore, you should search for a career that is meaningful and purposeful. Before you do that, though, you need to make sure you understand how passion fits into your future work.

Correctly define your passion

There is a subtle yet essential distinction between focusing on what you love and focusing on something that you care about as your passion. We commonly chase passion in our lives through activities that are fun and enjoyable. In fact, what we should do is consider passion as not something you discover but something that you develop. Research shows that employees who view their passion as what brings them joy were less likely to have successful careers and more likely to quit their jobs within 9 months.

It’s vital to understand that passion wanes over time, and people often change more than they expect; therefore, you want a career that frequently challenges you to find new passions and persevere through the obstacles you will encounter. Resilience is critical to the pursuit of your passion, as that pursuit is an ongoing process. You are likely to enjoy your career more if you define your passion as something you care about rather than a hobby or something you see as existing solely to make you happy.

The right way to make your passion your profession

Once you understand that your passion should be developed rather than discovered, you can be open to understanding how that eventual passion can fuel your profession. After all, you don’t want what you love to become the whole of your job; that’s a passion-killing move. Here are some of the best ways to make your passion an eventual cornerstone of your career.

You can develop your passion throughout your career

Working a job you have an affinity for is the first step to developing your passion. Perspective is everything, and if you are open to finding your inspiration throughout your career, you will see the possibilities that emerge as you work. Not only will that prevent burnout, but it will make you a better and stronger contributor to your career field. Developing valuable and rare skills as you grow in your position will give you greater job satisfaction over time.

Look to your colleagues to find inspiration from people who have found and diversified their passion. You will likely see a person who cares about their position and perseveres through the inevitable struggles that are part of lifelong work.

You can be a role model

When you care about your work and take pride in your production, it is evident to the people around you. The International Career Institute points out that having enthusiasm and passion for your work is not just inspirational to colleagues, but also contagious. In this way, you will serve as a role model for other coworkers who may want to pursue their passion in their career as well.

Not only can you build a successful, fulfilling career where you do something you care about, but you can also leave a positive impression on the next generation of workers. They will observe your contributions. How you approach your job and the ways which you care about your job’s purpose will be evident to them in every action you take.

You can be happier and braver

Developing your passion in your career field will make you happier and less resentful of the time spent on your work. More importantly, it can make you braver. Being open to developing your passion in your career means committing to your freedom and happiness. Not everyone has the willingness to approach their job this way; many people are content with the status quo.

Discover your version of bravery and find out what risks work for you. Remember that discovering and developing your passion means expanding your comfort zone and doing things that may be scary, but that won’t leave you anxious or afraid.

Follow your heart with your head

The world needs your passion, but you want it to develop within your career field rather than waiting for it to find you. Decide now to follow your heart with your head, acknowledge that it’s possible to grow your passion, and look forward to a happier, braver career.
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