Cultivating Passion and Purpose

 by Dianne Orcutt

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “It is the obligation of every woman of this Church to get all the education she can. It will enlarge her life and increase her opportunities.” The charge—and its attendant promises—is exhilarating, but often daunting. Most women (and men) I know love learning, appreciate beauty, enjoy adventure and challenge, and have a curiosity about the world around them. The decision to pursue education, formally or informally, is generally an easy one. The challenge for most of us lies in deciding where to channel our efforts, interests, and talents.

When deciding on an educational or professional path and faced with seemingly countless options, honestly identifying your strengths and passions is important. For most of us, this is easier said than done. However, understanding where your interests and talents lie allows you to narrow your focus and explore pursuits that are deeply satisfying. Finding meaning in your endeavors is invigorating.

Intuitively, we all know this to be true. Each of us has experienced this in some aspect of life. The things that we love doing are easier and more enjoyable to do. We make time for these things. We are less likely to be deterred by obstacles we face. We find satisfaction in them. And, as Aristotle said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” In other words, we can be more effective in what we do.

I knew my long-rage educational path would include law school, but deciding what to study during my undergraduate education was more difficult. I spent the first two years of college studying business. The classes, and the major, seemed practical. I enjoyed the classes, but the finer details of economics and statistics, while interesting and worthwhile, didn’t excite me. Because of a class I enjoyed tremendously my freshman year, I ultimately opted to change my major to international law and diplomacy. Suddenly, I felt alive. The lectures, the reading, and the research all fascinated me. I would regularly find myself talking to friends and family about what I was learning. I sought out extracurricular events related to my studies. I was engaged in my classes in a way that I had never been before. Having discovered my affinity for the international side of the law, I sought out international experiences during law school and was able to do an internship in Spain as well as a semester in Hungary. I might not have had or taken advantage of those opportunities had I not explored my interest in international affairs.

My college experience made clear to me the importance of developing passion and seeking purpose in my path. Marketability, pay, and demand are important considerations in selecting a path, but finding passion and purpose is essential. Passion and purpose sustain and energize. They motivate us to push ourselves; we grow. Understanding the driving forces in your life allows you to make deliberate choices for your future.

My education, as President Hinckley promised, has enlarged my life and is continually increasing my opportunities. Pursuing an education that spoke to my passions and sense of purpose has allowed me to identify and develop my strengths, be effective (and happy!) professionally and personally, and contribute meaningfully to my community. Cultivating passion and purpose is a perpetual endeavor, but one that is transformative—regardless of your stage in life.

5 Comments on “Cultivating Passion and Purpose

  1. Thank you! I am grateful for this reminder as I think about returning to graduate school in the next few years.

  2. Just the other day I wondered your undergraduate study! I never knew it was international law and diplomacy. That sounds wonderful. And I love this idea of finding a passion because, it’s true, it is what will sustain you through it all.. “The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion.” YSL

  3. Well said! I attended MATC for my culinary education because I knew the generals in a traditional college would kill my motivation and just waste my time and money. I thrived being in a hands on class and quickly found myself as a baker, which is what I always wanted to do. I never find baking a chore; only the co-workers and business operations got old!

  4. This is beautiful. I am looking for the right master’s degree, and I have yet to settle on one, exactly, that gets me as excited as I need and want to be about the next step of my education. Love this article.


  5. That’s how I felt when I returned to study accounting 20 years after getting my bachelor’s degree at BYU. I feel like a complete person now that I get to be a mom and an accountant. It’s the best of both worlds for me.

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