Passion vs Purpose: How to Choose What to Pursue

During a recent trip to Chicago to keynote a conference, I was stopped in the hallway by a man who wanted to get my thoughts on how he could evaluate his passion and determine whether it was a meaningful pursuit.


I gave him as thoughtful of a response as I could in the moment, but as I reflected on the day that evening, I realized that this is a layered issue that many people are facing.


After all, the happiness that comes with doing the things we want to do has to be balanced with the necessity of doing work that’s important. Legacies are built on a willingness to not trade what we want now for what we want most.


So how do we evaluate our activities, projects, and careers for this deeper meaning? How do we choose between two equally great opportunities?


Here are a few things to consider in the pursuit of passion and purpose:


1. Will you regret not doing this in the future?

When there are multiple options, this question helps clarify what means the most to you. If you had a limited time to live, how would you choose to use your working hours? Identify the project you’d regret not pursuing and make it a priority.


2. How does doing this work enrich your life?

Are you choosing one line of work because it feels good or because it actually makes your better? How does the work positively impact your life? How does the work stretch you and improve your character?


3. How does doing this work enrich the lives of others?

Do other people benefit from the work? Will the work outlive you? Service is the rent we pay for living on the planet. If no one benefits from what you’re creating, it’s time to rethink or reframe the work.


Even if you have a career you love, these questions are worth answering. Contemplate your passion and stay in alignment with your purpose!


Lisa Nicole Bell is the director and executive producer of The American Dream Revised. She is the CEO of Inspired Life Media Group where she and her team conceive, develop, and produce original premium multiplatform content. Learn more about her at