A Harvard Professor Asked 5000 People How They Stay Passionate at Work

Updated 01/31/18

Even if you've carefully selected a career path that directly aligns with your passions, moments of boredom and frustration are inevitable. But Morten T. Hansen, a former Harvard University professor and current professor at the University of California, Berkeley, argues that these moments will be few and far between if you combine passion with purpose in your career.

Such is the conclusion of his forthcoming book, Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More, which is essentially a five-year study of over 5000 employees and managers on how they stay passionate at work. "Some people not only pursue passion in navigating their careers, but they also manage to connect this passion with a clear sense of purpose on the job—they contribute, serve others, make a difference," writes Hansen on Money. "While passion is 'do what you love,' purpose is 'do what contributes.' As my research shows, people who match passion with purpose in this way perform much better than their peers."

Furthermore, having a defined sense of purpose at work "strongly predicts how much effort people put in for each hour they're on the job, rather than the sheer number of hours they work," he adds. In other words, if you love what you do, and you believe that what you do matters, your motivation to succeed becomes that much greater. "You activate positive emotions such as joy, excitement, pride, inspiration, and hope, all of which gives you more energy," he explains. "And that lets you do everything better on the job."

He goes on to specify that this unique combination of passion and purpose isn't just inherent in traditional service-oriented jobs like healthcare, teaching, and hospitality. "We found that nearly every industry or occupation boasted at least some people who reported lots of passion and purpose," adds Hansen. In other words, it's possible to cultivate passion and purpose in the job you currently hold; this recipe for success doesn't necessarily demand a career switch. Trying to do so will "make your job more interesting, and you will also likely perform far better."

Head over to Money for more.

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