Since we launched our Passion Profile Quiz in 2014, we’ve had over half a million people take it (I can’t think too hard about that or else it might actually blow my mind 🤯). And we’ve gotten feedback from a number of you saying some variation of, “This was crazy accurate — it’s like you’re reading my mind! How did you come up with this?”
Just last week, in fact, one of my newest clients sent an email about the quiz saying, “I’m still trying to figure out how your auto-magical system pinned me down.”
I’m extremely grateful, and still a little awestruck, by the response we’ve had to our quiz over the years. And since one of the the most common questions we get asked is how we came up with this, I want to share our behind-the-scenes story of where Passion Profiles came from and why we created the quiz in the first place.
THE BEGINNING OF THE STORY IS ACTUALLY PRETTY EMBARRASSING
I’m slightly ashamed to admit that, back when Rachel and I first started Clarity on Fire, we believed that most people secretly wanted to quit their day job and start their own business. Because we were both wildly unhappy at our jobs and intensely craved the freedom of entrepreneurship, and everyone else we coached hated their jobs, too, we figured it must be a universal desire that all humans shared!
But the more clients we worked with, the clearer it, became that this was NOT everyone’s goal. They might have disliked their current job, but many of our clients actually loved working for other people (or at least the idea of working for other people), as long as it was in the right environment, with the right culture.
One night that spring, we were sitting on Rachel’s couch, about to turn on the next episode of LOST (which we were in the middle of binging), and she started telling me about a call she’d had earlier that day with one of her clients.
“She was saying how, what she most loves about her job is being able to work with supportive, collaborative people, all working toward a shared mission,” Rachel said.
I asked, dubiously, “So you think she genuinely loves working at that company? It’s not that she’s just afraid to strike out on her own?”
“No, she actually loves it. She lit up when she started talking about her team,” Rachel replied.
It got us thinking … clearly people are motivated by very different things at work. We’d both worked on great teams with great people in the past, and it hadn’t made us enjoy the job any more. For both of us, the desire for freedom was our main driver, whereas for this client, she needed collaboration and connection.
We both started bringing up examples of our other clients and considering what motivated them most at work. We thought of friends and family members too, and the more stories we shared, patterns started to materialize.
Rachel got off the couch and disappeared into her room for a moment, and when she emerged, she was carrying a yellow notepad. “I bet, if we can figure out a few of the big things people are motivated by, we can chart out the different ways people want to approach their work.” She drew two intersecting lines on the page, making a large quadrant, and we started plotting out the different ways people can combine passion, time, and money in a work setting.
We both settled into the couch, the title screen for LOST frozen on the TV screen, forgotten (sorry to our fictional boyfriends Jack and Sawyer). For the rest of the night, we fleshed out these 4 quadrants, which we ultimately called Passion Profiles. It seemed to finally make sense of why certain jobs are a perfect fit for some people, and make other people totally miserable.
SO WHAT DO PASSION PROFILES ACTUALLY MEASURE?
Most people try to start out by asking themselves what they’re passionate about … and that’s a really big, really tough question to answer because there are SO MANY options out there that it’s completely overwhelming. Where do you even start?
If, however, you first focus on how you want your passion to show up (even if you don’t know what it is yet), then you at least have a major direction in which to focus your attention. Plus, you’ve narrowed down your options to only the ones that will suit you.
That’s what a Passion Profile is – it tells you HOW your passion and career should intersect for maximum fulfillment. Think of it like baking. We take the three biggest ingredients of a purposeful life and career – time, money, and passion – and mix them up in four different ways. Same ingredients, but different amounts of each, make four distinct confections. Each of the four is a Passion Profile, which we’ve called Firestarters, Tribe Members, Thrivers, and Side Hustlers.
Curious for a closer look at how each of the three major “ingredients” (time, money, and passion) impact your Passion Profile? Here’s a deeper dive into each:
Time is the one thing we all get the same amount of, so figuring out how you most want to spend it is crucial for achieving your ideal life and career.
Some people value their time SO much that they want maximum control over how they spend it. They want autonomy to do what they want, when they want, how they want, with no one looking over their shoulder and giving them direction.
Other people want their time to be used for meaningful work in the world, in service to a mission, cause, or team they care deeply about. Often, these people actually prefer a bit of direction about how to best use their time. That way they can make the biggest impact without wasting time trying to figure out the best approach.
Some people want their time devoted to their families or hobbies more than work because that’s what makes them feel most alive. And others just want to fit in as many new experiences as they can in their limited time, so they’ll never get bored or complacent with how they’re living their life.
There’s no right or wrong way to want to spend your time, but if you’re not aware of what you value most in your life and career, you might feel like you’re wasting time or wishing time away (how many Mondays have you caught yourself thinking, “I wish it were Friday”?).
That’s why your Passion Profile first and foremost measures how you ideally want to spend your time.
Money tends to come with a lot of baggage — people are afraid of not having enough money, since it’s intrinsically tied to survival and freedom, but they’re also afraid of wanting money because it’s “selfish” or “greedy.”
Most of us get so caught up in our feelings and worries and stories about money that we forget that, at the end of the day, it’s just a tool. No one craves money itself; your desire for money is because of what it can do for you.
And when you think about money that way, it becomes obvious why it’s so important to figure out how you want your values to align with your finances.
If you value independence, then money can buy you the freedom to direct your own life and career. If you value service, then money can provide you with the time and resources to devote to meaningful causes. If you value growth and new experiences, money can fund those things, too.
Just like any other tool, if you’re using money “incorrectly” (in this case, not in alignment with your values), it won’t give you the result you’re looking for. That’s why so many people achieve their financial goals, and realize that hasn’t made them any happier — because they’re not using the money the right way for them.
Your Passion Profile, then, will measure how you prefer to connect money with your passion and career.
We’ve already spent two chapters redefining what passion means and wading through the muck of the many misinterpretations there are about passion, so we won’t rehash all that.
If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a hundred times: your passion isn’t a “thing,” but a set of underlying drivers or the “golden thread” that ties together many of the things you’ve been attracted to throughout your life. We also try, in everything we do, to made it abundantly clear that your passion and your career are not one and the same, despite the words often being used interchangeably.
We spent so much time making that distinction because while some people do, in fact, have a strong desire to combine their deeper passions in life with their career … some people want the exact opposite.
The common advice to “find your passion and turn it into your career” completely ignores one of the four Passion Profiles (Thrivers) and severely limits a second (Side Hustlers), which means it leaves out half of all people.
Knowing the ideal relationship between your career and your passion makes a huge difference in your ultimate life and career satisfaction. You might want to combine your career and your passion, sure, but it’s also perfectly fine if you prefer to keep them separate.
That’s why your Passion Profile also measures how you want your career to intersect with your passion.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PERMISSION
Your Profile is, at its core, about permission: permission to question the status quo, permission to live and work in a way that feels good to you, permission to let go of other people’s expectations of what you “should” do, and permission to align your work with your values, personality traits, innate motivators, and desired lifestyle.
Share your quiz result with us below, and forward the quiz on to a friend who might need a bit more clarity about their career direction!
Kristen (& Rachel)