How to Build a Career You’re Passionate About

We all know a job is essentially a means to earn money. It has little to do with education, joy or talent. A career on the other hand—a career is something you strive for, something you cultivate. A career says, “I’ve earned this. I have a future here.”

But what about passion?

“Passion” may sound too touchy-feely. Too impractical. Too unattainable. Is a career that you’re passionate about even possible?

The answer is yes.

Yes, you absolutely can find passion in your career. It may not be easy, but this is a great example of the adage “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.”

Being passionate about what you do simply means that there’s a strong and direct tie between your emotions, your future and your work. When the tie is strong, you’re unstoppable.

But without passion, it’s just a job.

The recipe for a career you’re passionate about is simple: you need talent, sacrifice and growth opportunities.

First, look at your raw talents, the activities you naturally lean toward—they can help you identify where passion will grow. If you love grammar, finding deals or working out, you may be a passionate editor, real estate broker or fitness trainer. And don’t worry, your career doesn’t have to be exotic or rare to produce passion in your life. You don’t have to be a famous chef or host your own financial advice TV show to love what you do. A truly successful career is fulfilling, not flashy.

As you grow in your career and passion starts to bubble over, the key is to focus it. And this is where it gets interesting: As counterintuitive as it seems, focusing on others instead of yourself actually makes you more passionate. When you sacrifice for others and causes you believe in, you exercise your passion muscle. Sacrifice makes you more passionate.

That’s why one of my favorite values here at Paycom is our ‘Serve’ value: “We serve with passion. We serve with purpose. With a helpful spirit, we do what’s right and then add more.” Serving others with passion and purpose starts an addictive cycle. The more you help others, the more your passion grows … and the more you’ll love helping others. Serving others costs you something up front, but it adds a richness to your career that you can’t get any other way.

The final ingredient to finding passion in your work is plugging in to a place that helps you grow. We have a saying here, “Growth is not by chance.” If you want to be passionate about what you do, intentionally and continually learn more about your field. Push yourself to try new things, learn new tools and experiment with new methods. The thrill of learning something and then putting it into practice successfully flexes that passion muscle, too. And the best companies want to partner with you as you grow; they offer trainings, leadership tools, book discussions, evaluations, etc. that help you become a stronger version of yourself.

The trick in all this is to find an organization where your unique passions can thrive. Search for a company that has the same values, the same desire to serve people well and the same passion for growth that you have. That’s the environment that will help you build not only a career, but passions that will make it a career worth having.