Most of us spend a significant number of our waking hours at work. So it should come as no surprise that the career we choose to make a living can have a significant impact on our happiness.

The thing is, there is more to a meaningful career than financial success. While earning enough to support yourself and your family is certainly important, you likely won’t be truly satisfied with what you do unless you choose a career that you are truly passionate about.

To get more insights into why passion is so vital for your career, I recently spoke with Eduardo Perez, founder of Musician Authority. Our conversation made it clear that passion for what you do should never be treated as an afterthought.

Achieving Personal Fulfillment

“I’ve been playing music since I was 10 years old,” Perez explains, “and that played a big role in choosing the career path that I did. Not everyone has to become a rock star. I found that I enjoyed teaching others how to improve their own abilities, and went from there. Because I love what I do, each day is personally fulfilling. I’m truly happy because of what I do.”

Perez’s comments stand in direct contrast to what many people experience on a day to day basis. As reported by Forbes, a 2019 study conducted as part of a joint effort between Gallup, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other groups found that less than 50 percent of workers felt like they had a good job. There are many issues that can contribute to this, but feeling like their job lacked purpose was a commonly cited reason. 

Unfortunately, “bad” jobs have been found to contribute to several physical and mental health problems. Being in a job you enjoy can help reduce stress and generate feelings of personal fulfillment. This happiness positively affects all aspects of your life, greatly improving your overall wellbeing.

While earning enough to be financially secure can help you feel like you have a good job, most people want to be able to use their skills and abilities in a way that lets them feel like they are making a meaningful difference. For some, this requires changing how they think about their work. But for many others, the best path forward will be finding a career they are truly passionate about.

Putting In the Energy and Effort

Finding something you’re passionate about doesn’t just affect your feelings of personal fulfillment. It can also directly impact your work output. 

“When you love what you do, it’s so much easier to stay motivated. You’re naturally going to work harder and strive to constantly put in your best effort,” Perez says. “You don’t just work to meet a deadline or hit bare minimum requirements. You bring a real enthusiasm to what you do that can prove contagious and lift the performance of everyone around you.”

The benefits of passionate, highly motivated workers is something employers are well aware of — and actively seeking. As a report from Deloitte explains, “[Passionate] workers have both personal resilience and an orientation toward learning and improvement that helps organizations develop the resilience needed to withstand and grow stronger from continuous market challenges and disruptions.”

That increased productivity helps entrepreneurs exceed their sales goals. It helps employees get noticed for raises and promotions. The increased effort that naturally stems from your passion will make you far more likely to achieve your career goals.

Finding Motivation to Stick Out Tough Times

While being passionate about your career path is nice when things are going well, it is even more important when you encounter setbacks. “Starting and growing a successful music blog wasn’t easy,” Perez says.

“It required a lot of time and effort to get it to where it is today. It’s the same with any entrepreneurial effort. You aren’t going to make tons of money right away. Even after you do start making money, you’ll face new competitors or things like the coronavirus that could completely disrupt your business. If you’re not passionate about what you do, you won’t have the grit that’s needed to stick things out and work through your problems.”

Most career paths — but especially those of entrepreneurs — are fraught with alternating periods of successes and failures. Failure can be the greatest teacher, but if you’re not passionate about what you do, you may not be invested enough to take away the lessons you need to achieve future success.

As Michael Jordan famously said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Everyone’s career journey will be different. Some people want to become entrepreneurs and launch their own unique product line. Others are happy if their chosen job lets them do an activity they enjoy each day.

No matter what career route you choose, make sure that your passion for what you do is a deciding factor. By doing what you love, you will have the energy, motivation and personal fulfillment necessary to help you live your best life.