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There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life.

- Federico Fellini


When you think of your passions, what comes to mind? If you're like most people, you probably think in terms of what you love doing – cooking, helping kids, or software programming, for example.

I want to offer a different perspective. What most people think of as a passion, I like to think of as a vehicle for them to experience what lights them up. A juice delivery system, if you will.

In this article I'm going to take a look at how your work can be a juice delivery system as well.

Definition of passion

Let me start with the simple definition of passion that is at the heart of the Occupational Adventure Guide (the system I developed to help people create careers that energize and inspire them).

My definition of passion is “the energy that comes from bringing more of YOU into what you do.” Put another way, it is simply being who you are, doing what you are naturally drawn to, with the gifts you feel naturally compelled to use. It comes from being in your natural groove.

Identifying your Passion Factors

To “bring more of YOU into what you do,” you need to know more than what you love doing. You need to know why.

To uncover that, make a list of things that have lit you up over the course of your life and start asking why you love each of them. When you do that, common themes start to unfold.

These themes are the underlying characteristics that tend to be in place when you’re on fire. Exploration and discovery, for example (a big one for me), or organizing, or problem-solving. I call these underlying themes Passion Factors.

Passion Factor delivery vehicles

To explore this idea further, let’s look at something that many people think of as one of their passions: cooking.

I had one client who would get completely lost in cooking. She loved, Loved, LOVED it. For her, it was about the creative process. It was about looking in the pantry to see what was on hand and then letting her creativity go wild to create something amazing.

So for her it was about creativity of working with whatever happened to be on hand. She loved the challenge of working within limitations, as well as the innovation and experimentation that required.

Contrast that with a software engineer at a talk I gave at Microsoft a few years back. For him, cooking was about how things fit together. When he was at a restaurant, he would reverse engineer the food in his mind to try to identify what was in it. He liked being able to replicate it and make it better.

For him, there was a strong similarity between the joy he got out of cooking and the joy he got out of programming.

Both of these people loved cooking, but what they actually got out of it was very different. So cooking wasn’t really the passion. It was simply a delivery vehicle that allowed each of them to experience their own unique Passion Factors.

Putting it to use in your career

Why is this such great news for your career? Because your work can be a juice delivery system. When you identify your Passion Factors, it opens your eyes to a whole range of possibilities that will energize and engage you. There are countless career paths that can deliver those Passion Factors.

Understanding the source of your juice lets you do three things. First, you can look at your current job and ask, “How do I bring more of these Passion Factors into the picture?” It lets you consciously sculpt your current situation to reflect what energizes you.

Second, you can use those Passion Factors to brainstorm potential career paths that have those sources of energy. “What careers have these characteristics?”

And finally, you can use that insight to evaluate potential jobs and career paths to ascertain how likely they are to be work you love. When a job has a “high density” of your Passion Factors, the odds that you are going to find the work energizing are high.


Want to take it deeper? My e-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, will take you through a step-by-step approach to applying this approach to your career. If you would like to go deeper still, I would love to explore how my one-on-one phone coaching can support your journey.


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© Curt Rosengren, 2000-2009
Passion Catalyst, Wild About Work, Occupational Adventure, Occupational Adventure Guide,
FUEL Check Personal Energy Audit, and The M.A.P. Maker are service marks of Curt Rosengren.
Trademarks pending.