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Just So You Know, You Don’t Have To Be Passionate About Your Job


There’s this rumor going around that we’re supposed to love our jobs, and we’re supposed to “follow our passion” and find a job that makes our “heart sing” and our “soul come alive.”

I’m calling bullshit.

Sure, it’s great to love what you do, and I firmly believe that you shouldn’t stay at a job that you hate. But like it or not, most of us are working jobs that we’re not 100% thrilled about; jobs that maybe pay the bills, but don’t rank high on the passion scorecard. Some of us are exploring our options. Some of us are paying our dues. Some of us are just stuck.

Because of this BS rumor, it’s not enough to just have a job anymore. Now we have to be in love with our jobs. We have to follow our passion. And if our job is not our passion? Well, then we’re obviously settling. And there is nothing more depressing than the idea of settling at 25 years old.

When did this whole obsession with passion start, anyway? I don’t think my great grandmother was out working in the field thinking about her passion. She just did what she had to do. For years, decades, all of eternity actually, people just did what they had to do in order to make the money they needed to survive. They provided for their families. They had a job. They came home from said job, and then they pursued their passions.

That’s when they cooked, or wrote, or developed carpentry skills. Outside of the office! Off the clock! There wasn’t this societal pressure to fold your passion into your 9-to-5. A career was just a paycheck. Your job was just a job. It didn’t have anything to do with your so-called passion, or soul work, or creative intuition. But now there’s this whole manifesto about “Not Settling,” and “Finding What You Love,” and how your “Work Should Be Your Calling,” and blah blah blah. I get it. Getting paid to do something you love is the ideal scenario. But we shouldn’t feel guilty if it’s not our current reality.

There’s no shame in working a job simply because it pays the bills. You are not less of an artist, an entrepreneur, or an innovator because you have a day job.

Maybe your passion doesn’t need to be your career. Maybe it just needs to make you feel alive. Could it be that by forcing two independent things to become dependent on one another, we’re actually losing out on what makes them special? Maybe your passion doesn’t need the pressure to provide an income. Maybe that’s the point of a passion: it’s optional. It’s the thing you do regardless of your job, not the thing you do to support yourself. And maybe a job isn’t supposed to be the great calling of your soul. Maybe it exists to simply support your passion, not to become it. It’s a means to an end, not the end itself.

Personally, I don’t want to demand so much from my passion. I want it to fill me up on its own, just because I love it, just because it can. If I can make a profit off it, that’s great. If not, I’m still going to do it anyway, simply because it’s what I love to do. Because it’s my passion and not my job.

I want to spend less time worrying about whether or not our jobs live up to society’s standards, and more time actually doing the things that make me happy outside of work. And I don’t think I need to berate myself if I don’t love my job every second of every day. Find something that you love and do it simply because you want to. Go for a hike, pick up a book, volunteer, go star-gazing, hang out at an animal shelter, or make art that makes you feel alive. Just do it because you want to do it. No paycheck or 401k required.

We are all dimensional beings with multiple facets, and one thing does not have to equal everything. There’s room for passions and there’s room for jobs in our lives. You can have both. You should have both. In my opinion, that’s what makes for a fulfilling life.

Let’s take the pressure off and cut ourselves some slack. There’s no reason to feel guilty about what your job does or does not offer. Your job is your own, your passion is your own, your life is your own. You get to decide what they look like. You get to decide what works best for you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong.

Jillian wants to live in a world where the coffee is bottomless and the sweatpants are mandatory. As a professional writer, she enjoys crafting copy that cuts through the bullshit of the everyday media. When she’s not being a word wizard, Jillian can be found hiking the trails with her husband and her slightly neurotic German Shepherd named Penny. To learn more about her work- and her love of sweatpants, visit her online at

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  • San

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Jillian. Most people don’t have the luxury to think about their passion as a career. Also, obviously, a lot of jobs just need to be done (and nobody would ever call them a passion), or what about when your passion is something that doesn’t lend itself to be a profitable career?

    • Jillian Stacia


  • nicolacash

    This hit real close to home. I’m currently in a job that I absolutely hate because it’s so mind-numbingly boring, and have been applying to other jobs for the past month or so that I think I’d be way more interested in. I haven’t gotten another job offer yet, and as much as I desperately want to quit by June 1st & just live off my savings…I’m strongly considering staying until the end of June or mid-July, just to give me more time to interview around & add more to my savings. I really, really don’t want to though 🙁 #confused

    • Jillian Stacia

      Hang in there! Listen to your intuition and do the best you can. Everything will work out!

  • Christian Gonzales

    Thank you Jillian! I love that you put a feeling i have into words. Love it.

    • Jillian Stacia

      Thank you for reading!!

  • Ky @ A Fresh Tomorrow

    “Personally, I don’t want to demand so much from my passion. I want it to fill me up on its own, just because I love it, just because it can.”

    This! It’s easy to beat the hell out of what you enjoy doing, expecting it to give you something in return. Sometimes, as you said, it doesn’t work that way. You do it because of the personal fulfillment.

    • Jillian Stacia

      Yes!!! Do it because you want to do it! That’s the only reason you need.

  • Mj D’Arco

    Can we be friends?

    • Jillian Stacia

      Uh yeah!

  • MW

    Agree wholeheartedly. I don’t absolutely love my job and it’s far from being something I’m passionate about, but I don’t hate it either. It pays the bills, with money leftover for savings and having a comfortable lifestyle in the city. Most jobs aren’t the equivalent of cuddling with puppies all day long – that’s why we get paid to do them. I can pursue my passions on my own time outside of the office & I’m happy with that.

    • Jillian Stacia

      I agree 100%

  • Tara

    Yes, thank you! There’s nothing wrong with taking a job that’s stable with good bennies but isn’t ~aspirational or something you’re omgsopassionate about. Many of those ~dream careers~ out there have you working insane amounts of overtime, on weekends, nights, etc., just to keep up. Meanwhile I walk in at 9 and out at 5 and then I go and do whatever it is I want to do, with no cloud of dread hanging over me that says I should be working more. To me, THAT is living the dream.

    • jdub

      YES. I love the fact that I leave the office at the end of the day, and I’m not obsessing over what is waiting for me the next day. If I can’t turn my brain off and go home and decompress and not think about work at all, I’ll lose my damn mind.

    • Jillian Stacia

      Yes! Live life on your own terms!!

  • jdub

    This is fantastic. I do enjoy my job and its challenges and how I learn on a daily basis– but am I passionate about food service/distribution and the behind-the-scenes administration I handle? Ummm… no. Not really. But it pays me well, the environment is a great one, my benefits are amazing, the company is growing and they encourage professional growth as well as work/life balance. I’m totally happy to stay here and bake/train for half marathons/volunteer/go on vacations on my own time.

    • Jillian Stacia

      Stay true to yourself and it will all work out! Glad you liked the piece!

  • I feel this sentiment exactly. People really struggle with the fact that I’m not career driven and that I really don’t care what I do for a job. To me, work/life balance is way more important – I don’t want to come home and have to work, or answer calls out of work hours or work on weekends (plus I certainly don’t get paid enough for that!). My fulfilment comes from my family and relationships with my friends, not work.

    I think it’s great that some people absolutely love what they do and I fully encourage people who really have a passion that can make them a living to pursue it but I don’t think its a bad thing if you don’t.

    • Jillian Stacia

      Agreed! You have to live life on your own terms!

  • I totally agree with not pressuring yourself to find a job that you’re also passionate about, and there are certainly some jobs that no one may be passionate about. That being said, if you can have a job that matches your passion in life, why not go for it?

    I went to law school exclusively to become a public defender. We don’t make much money, but I get to pretend I’m Elle Woods/a non-sleazy defense attorney from Law&Order every day and go to court. I love it. I love almost everything about my job, I’m passionate about indigent defense, and I’m certain my clients can tell when I go to see them that I actually care about helping them.

    I think passion makes you better at things, and I feel like my job would be almost unbearable if you weren’t passionate about it, so the whole passionate-about-your-job thing can cut both ways. Some jobs don’t require passion and just need to be done, some jobs require passionate people in order to be done.

    • Nancy

      Very well stated!

  • Anya

    It sounds like you love what you do based on the last intro paragraph. Have you ever done the monotonous 9-5, sitting in an uninspiring cube, shivering while staring at a screen? It’s unfair to compare to our grandparents’ time. We have many more options now, many of us are putting off starting families, and we’ve been lead to believe since childhood that we can do anything. It’s not as easy as you make it sound to come to terms with the fact that many doors have closed and the dreams you had for yourself are long gone.

  • “You are not less of an artist, an entrepreneur, or an innovator because you have a day job.”

    YES!!!! I struggle with these societal ideals everyday. I don’t hate my job, but all of a sudden I feel like I’m “settling’ because I don’t love it. But really – who cares! As long as I don’t hate it and as long as I have the time to pursue my own passions, then I should be all good. Thanks for this!!!

  • LMG

    This honestly just hit home for me. I have been stuck on this for the past couple of months. Like, what am I doing with my life, am I happy? Should I be happier coming into work every day? Am I supposed to be looking for the next best thing? But I keep thinking… well… you have great insurance, get paid every week and have a pretty damn laid back atmosphere. Shit, there’s even a dog here every day!

    Unfortunately I paid for the schooling to “follow my dream” and WOW, was that an expensive lesson. I now have my job that allows me to pay for that and follow my (what I am now realizing) hobby vs a dream on my time off.

    I love that you started this with “my grandma didn’t LOVE going to work every day” it’s what they did when they got home that they felt passionate about. THANK YOU!

  • Jill

    I relate to this article so much, living in Silicon Valley. There is so much pressure to be “passionate” about some coding that is supposed to change the world. Maybe it will be a huge success, but odds are highly against you. All in an industry where obsolescence is part of the end game. When you look back on your career, unless you’ve worked at Google or Apple, the companies that you’ve poured your heart into are dissolved and forgotten. Your article hit me at the right time as I’m looking for a new job, and I’ve questioned if I still have “passion” for any of it. Thanks for the helpful perspective!

  • Kia

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! I needed to read this so much!
    I’ve been freelance creative and entrepeneur my whole life, and now I’m just tired of it. I got a normal-not-my-passion job and it’s the best thing that ever hapended to me 🙂

  • JE

    Opinions are like you know what… “We all have them, and they all stink.” I would have rather read this post if it were filled with research and data, not a lot of the word, “maybe.” But, if we are going down that road, I would respond by saying that maybe most people don’t have a passion. They have interests, or avocations. They don’t have a superior talent or ability over which they have achieved mastery. Hence, they grind it out, just like grandma… Except maybe behind a desk, instead of in the field. I for one feel a beating drum deep in my soul… Maybe it’s my passion. I work for a fortune 100 company, and I know it’s not my calling. But, im grounded enough to know I need to meet the basic needs, while I achieve mastery over what it is I feel I want my life to be about. In the meantime, it’s off to the fields we go. But, one day, I’ll spend my days practicing the craft that I’ve mastered, and for which others are willing to pay me.

  • I love it when more people talk about the fallacy of the “dream job”. Some people require more challenge and enjoyment from their work,
    whereas other people are happier doing a job they can leave at work at
    the end of the day.

    Most jobs are as good as you make them- it’s less about what you do and more about how you do it. How do you engage and interact with your work? What do you need from your job? Are you getting what you need? If not, how can you change that?

    Almost any job can be a good job with the right attitude and right approach. It’s not always about finding your dream job or being passionate about your work. Work, like life, is as good as what you make of it.


  • Hey Jillian! I appreciate this perspective a lot. But here’s the thing: you’re a writer. You’re doing something you love— at least a little bit.

    We’re not one dimensional, as you say, but neither is work and passion. It’s not an all or nothing category. There’s a spectrum. On one end there’s an unrealistic hopes for a job that brings us nothing but pure joy, and on the other end is a job that we can’t stand. A good job is in the middle, and a job that we can feel passionate about is a bit toward the positive/passion side from the middle.

    I don’t totally disagree with what you’re saying here here, I just want a more nuanced conversation on both sides of “pursue your passion” discussion.

  • Martin Sass

    Finally a real life article !!…so refreshing….
    My job does not define who I am as an individual…..I’m not my role and my family and health always come first….no job could pay me enough to put work first….life is too short…work-life-balance.

  • Thank you so much for this, Jillian. I have been wrought with anxiety (sometimes depression) over the past year about finding a job that I actually feel passionate about. This has all been wrapped up in one big identity crisis as well! But reading about how finding a job I might not be passionate about does not mean I’m settling really puts things into perspective. I hope your words continue to resonate with me as I continue my job search.

  • Adi

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful article. This puts things into perspective so well, and it’s something I need to remind myself of all the time. I don’t need to constantly beat myself up for not being able to make my passions my job. I always know though that I will keep doing what I’m passionate about regardless, even if it means in my own time because there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂

  • SB

    Thank you! This article made my contrary heart sing!

  • Chinelo Sophia Ezenwa

    Love this