Every time there’s an article about passion, someone always replies saying they don’t have time to work on hobby projects or even want to work more than 8 hours a day. This has always bugged me because that is not what defines someone as passionate. Passion is about emotion. It means you feel something about the work you’re doing. It means you care about something.
Passion is not a binary thing. Some people have more passion than others. Those people who moonlight for 8 hours on GitHub after work might be more passionate than you, but that doesn’t mean you’re not passionate in your own way. In my opinion, if you read an article related to your career on the topic of passion and you put in the effort to comment on it, you’re already way above average.
A dispassionate person wouldn’t even find the article. But if they did, they wouldn’t care enough to comment on it. They have never contributed to a stack overflow question, read a blog article just to keep up to date, read hacker news, refactored some code because it was the right thing to do, listened to a programming podcast, or any of the countless other things that show they care about the work they’re doing.
You don’t necessarily have to work on a hobby project or put in extra hours. Just care about what you do and the way you do it. You should want to do a good job. You should actively learn how to be better at your career. And you should learn on the job, too (within reason). Depending on what you get out of it, you’re not necessarily slacking. If you could take an hour to learn something on the job and save 8 hours of effort later, it would be irresponsible not to.
Don’t be that guy who is apathetic, who only learns exactly what is required to get by and nothing else. The type that wishes he would never have to learn anything related to his field. Or, worse, thinks he knows enough and has graduated to a point where he can stop learning. That guy is holding everyone back and undoing the effort they put in. Everyone has to clean up after him. He doesn’t care about doing a better job because from his perspective he still has to work 8 hours. As long as you’re not that guy, you’re OK in my book.
Don’t feel guilty for leaving work after 8 hours to hang out with your kids. It’s ok to have a life. Just make sure you’re not going through the motions when you’re at work. You don’t have to work after hours to be passionate.