You don’t have to work after hours to be passionate

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.

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6 thoughts on “You don’t have to work after hours to be passionate

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with this BUT – the common problem is simply that many people are not happy where they work. In fact, in some cases I’d wager the after-hours moonlighting is actually a cop-out for someone who wants to be creative and doesn’t get to in their day job.

    When I am reading resumes, I’m far more impressed by folks who managed to make their passion their career, instead of just a hobby. It’s amazing how many people get too complacent and risk averse to even try.

  2. I’m the passionate one at work and ALL of my coworkers are the ones learning only enough to do their job. It’s painful because it means I’m constantly being held back, but at the same time, it’s forced me to basically step up and lead the rest of the team. Sure, it makes my job more of a hassle than it really should be, and at the same time I find it appalling that I, the most junior developer on the team seems to have a better grasp of what is happening than those that have been with the team for over 7 years, but hey, at the end of the day, I know that I’m progressing and even though my team mates haven’t put in the effort, they are too because I take the time to do things right whereas they just take the time to make it work. There’s a big difference.

  3. E says:

    >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.

    Is this an invitation for people to comment on your post? :)

  4. Goodies says:

    What we have then seems to be an argument over semantics; ‘passionate’ to me is a superlative, it’s all-consuming and the object of the passion is something the passionate person cannot stop thinking about the vast majority of the time, what this post describes is someone who might like (or even love) developing software but is not passionate.

    Seems like this is another word — like ‘awesome’ — that’s being over-used and having its meaning reduced.

    I only disagree with passion being a job requirement as I understand it, and agree that liking software development is a fair job requirement.

  5. Dylan says:

    In the end, “passion” is a poor way to make judgements about how to interact with the world and determine one’s actions. In fact, it’s not really a way to gauge how valuable doing something is to begin with. Usability, clarity, efficiency, etc… these and more act as values that can be applied anywhere without being quite as fickle as feeling inspired without control.

    Finding a crossover with “passion” may be ideal, but finding good values allows for clear action that can be used to work toward improvements.

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