Enough Passion, Can’t I Just Have A Job?


The Passion Push

Why does it seem like every other blog, video or tweet we see these days is about being passionate about work? Interviewers ask you why you are passionate about getting this job (and blogs tell you how to answer the question). Videos (by supposedly wildly successful people) urge you to make a business out of your passion. Corporate initiatives require that you read a new motivational book every year. It seems like everyone these days is expected to devote themselves, body and soul, to work.

There’s more to life than work

This push for ‘passion at work’ devalues the rest of life. What if I want to be passionate about model trains? Or horses, or crocheting? Or walking backwards up all the mountains in England? Why do I have to turn it into a business, or make it the center of a job?

I have had many jobs. Some of them have been fantastic; I looked forward to work every day. Some were terrible, and getting up in the morning to go to the office was a struggle. Most have been somewhere in the middle: good days, bad days, average days…the normal variety of days that make up a career. I work to pay the bills, to be able to do the non-work activities that I enjoy and to be sure that I will have enough money when I stop working.

In each job, no matter whether I loved or tolerated it, I did my best. I shared my expertise, learned, contributed, and helped my company succeed. What makes any company think they have the right to expect more?

Society puts more pressure on us every day. Not only must we have a cool home, the latest phone, extreme holidays, and the widest, wildest circle of friends, we’re supposed to devote ourselves 200% to work we are ‘wildly passionate’ about. And just when you think you’ve made it, expectations go up and the cycle starts again.

Well I, for one, am stopping this merry-go-round. Here’s my commitment to myself. Would you like to join me?

Put what matters to you at the center

What’s important to me matters more than what anyone else, or any employer, thinks should be most important in my life. I’m proud of doing a good job at work. I’m proud of other parts of my life too.

Give 100% at work

During the work day, I give my all to my job. Once my work day is finished, my personal time begins. The company phone is off, the emails will wait until tomorrow. Having worked in a profession that actually did make life and death decisions, I recognize when a job doesn’t have that level of responsibility.

Prioritize the genuinely important

Friends, family, health, a relaxed frame of mind…no job, no matter how amazingly fabulous, can ever replace your mother, father, siblings, friends, or the ability to breath and move easily. Long nights talking with friends about life. Laughing over dinner with family. Enjoying nature’s beauty. These experiences create the kinds of memories that nights spent working on another project report cannot provide. That report will be forgotten in a year (at best); your memories will last a lifetime.

Stop trying to find an all-consuming passion

I enjoy all kinds of activities: reading, writing, baking, model trains…and working towards a business goal. None of them is a single overriding passion. That’s fine, it makes me a balanced person. And that makes a good life.

Burying your whole life in your work is a fast track to burnout and unhappiness. Don’t make this mistake! Give your all at work, sure. And when the work day ends, give your all to yourself.  No guilt, no excuses. Just enjoy your life. You only get one!


Marne Platt

Dr. Marne Platt is the President of Fundamental Capabilities and the author of 3 books (so far): Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way; Professional Presence; and PREP For Success. Originally a practicing veterinarian, she built a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. She founded Fundamental Capabilities to ‘pay it forward’ by providing career development workshops and coaching for women. ‘Living Singlish: Your Life, Your Way’ is an ‘older sister in your pocket’ packed full of advice for young women on building their own independent and exciting life. 'Professional Presence' and PREP For Success' help you strengthen your spoken and unspoken communication and leadership presence.

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