Passion and Career

So, where do passion and career intersect? For many of us, pursuing our passion often translates into treating it as a hobby—a cherished indulgence reserved for those rare moments when we manage to escape the demands of our careers. But what if I told you that passion and career aren’t destined to live separate lives? Instead, when blended together, they can spark a journey filled with fulfillment and success. This echoes the very essence of what I’ve been sharing on My Zen Path for some time now, and stumbling upon this TED talk by Noeline Kirabo felt like serendipity.

Noeline Kirabo lifted herself out of the slums of Kampala, Uganda through self-education. Today, she empowers young individuals by equipping them with skills to transform their passions into profitable businesses. In this short TED talk she shares her experience of helping out-of-school young people in Uganda turn their passions into careers. Do watch (~ 10 mins) –

Two questions to uncover your passion

I was particularly drawn to her definition of passion, and how she expands on that:

And in the simplest definition, passion is a collection of your life experiences that give you the deepest sense of fulfillment. And to identify your passion, you need to look inward. Because there’s a notion that looking inward and finding the things that give us pleasure and fulfillment is a luxury that only the rich can enjoy, or a pleasure that only the retired can indulge in. Which made me wonder: Is passion only for the rich, or an experience only the retired can enjoy?

I strongly believe that discovering and following your passion isn’t reserved solely for the rich or the retired. It’s about each individual shaping their life and career around what brings them joy. Of course, it comes with its own set of advantages and challenges, but you can always consider them carefully before making any decisions, given your unique circumstances.

However, many of us often remain unaware of what truly drives our passion. I like how Kirabo comes up with two important questions that you can ask yourself to uncover it:

    1. If you had all the time and the money in the world, what would you spend your time doing? (See What would you do if money is not a concern? if you’re curious.)
    2. What makes you happy or gives you the deepest sense of fulfillment? (Check How to choose your career? as well.)

The first question encourages profound introspection into your deepest desires and aspirations, while the second directs your focus towards activities or pursuits that truly resonate with your inner self.  It is worth pondering over these two questions. If you’re serious, consider jotting down detailed responses and refining them over several days. You may be surprised by what insights emerge.

Can you convert your passion into a career?

Well, the short answer is a resounding YES! But let’s dig a little deeper. While turning your passion into a career is absolutely possible, it’s important to recognize that it may not be a stroll in the park. In your younger years, when financial responsibilities are fewer, the journey is relatively easier. As Noeline Kirabo herself highlights in her talk, she’s steered numerous young individuals toward transforming their passions into thriving businesses.

However, it’s crucial to understand that this path requires careful financial assessment. While knowing your own passions is one thing, grasping market dynamics is a whole different ball game altogether (trust me, I’ve been there, done that, and learned it the hard way! :P). If you’re serious about converting your passion into a career, seek guidance from relevant field experts or consult a knowledgeable coach to navigate this process effectively.

For instance, if you’re passionate about writing, reach out to journalists, technical writers, authors, or screenwriters to understand the nuances of writing careers. Different forms of writing require different skills — some require research and analysis, others need domain knowledge, while some thrive on creativity. Exploring these options will help you understand the type of writing you enjoy, identify areas where you may need to focus your efforts, and envision the kind of work you can expect in your career.

And if you’re not as young as you used to be (like me), don’t worry — there’s still plenty of room to explore your passions and reshape your career. Consider consulting a coach who can help you discover how to integrate your passions into your career path. Personally, I find joy in helping individuals with career transitions and aligning their professional pursuits with their passions. Feel free to drop me a message if you’re interested.

Lastly, it is helpful to remember these lines from Kirabo’s talk.

The thing about looking inward is that it can be scary, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. But the truth is you never truly start living until you learn to live from the inside out  [1].

I have nothing better to say. 🙂


[1] “Inside out” in terms of work or career means starting with yourself – understanding what you’re good at, what you enjoy, and what’s important to you. Then, you use that understanding to decide what kind of work or career path would be the best fit for you. It’s like building your career from the inside, based on who you are and what you love.

Featured Image:

The featured image used in this article is by darkness_s from Pixabay with a quote attributed to Howard Thurman, and I’m using it here with gratitude.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.