Move Beyond Passion to Purpose

The best piece of advice that I can give to women about achieving career success on their own terms is to pursue purpose, which is different from passion. Passion is about your personal interests, while purpose is about what you can do for others—no matter how big or small the act. Earlier in my career, I spent so much time focused on achieving my career goals that I didn’t realize the importance of having a true sense of purpose. I never questioned whether my work was truly meaningful or I was happy doing it. I believed that if I just “grin and bear it” by taking on any assignment, working extremely late and sacrificing my well-being, I would get promoted to the next level. I thought that perhaps in retirement or my second-act, I could do what I truly love.

Looking back, I had a lot to learn.

I learned that purpose is neither an event nor destination; it is a journey where your direction unfolds through work experiences that are positive and challenging. Purpose is an expression of your authentic self and values, independent of a specific role or job title. For example, are you someone who gets energized by helping people? Do you find yourself always trying to make things better? Do you speak up about fairness and justice? Do people often seek you out for these types of contributions? These are clues.

How do you find purpose at work? Purpose is about engaging in work that adds value—doing work that others, like your team or organization, need. When purpose is in your midst, you love doing the work and you are amazing at it, often achieving high levels of performance and excellence. You are doing tasks that you really care about and are committed to seeing through. You might get so involved that you lose track of time. When you are working with purpose, you show up for others in a significant way, and they feel the importance of your presence.

That’s why purpose is about being motivated and committed to contribute to something beyond your personal goals and ambitions; it is moving from “me” to “we.”

What I now know for sure is that tomorrow is not promised. Life is too short NOT to do work that truly matters to you and others. Our world needs you, purpose-driven leaders who want to make a difference and transform the future.