by Allison Aboud Holzer

Find me a Subaru Outback owner and I’ll show you a person who loves intrinsic value. Nobody buys an Outback for speed or sexy design; it’s the dependable 05subaruoutback5002engine and safety that counts. This last week I drove my Outback down to Pennsylvania to learn about a personal growth assessment called the Pro-D. This assessment is unique in the sense that it analyzes mission, competency and style (terms for: “passion/interest,” “ability/skill,” and “personality”) across nine core values areas. The philosophy of the assessment aligns with my own. While all three are essential to success, the best scenario is one in which “passion” drives personal growth with “ability” as front-seat passenger and “personality” as backseat driver!

Put “ability” in the driver’s seat and all of a sudden the Outback is accelerating to 90mph – about to blow a tire. While most students are encouraged to pursue careers based on their strengths, competencies don’t always align with passions. Just imagine the child who receives accolades from parents, friends, and teachers for his natural talent as a musical protégée. The child feels pressured to practice and develop mastery in the fast last, seen by others as highly successful. All the while, he’s really fascinated by math and wishes he could spend his free time figuring out puzzles. Then, what about when “personality” drives? Watch out for road rage! A focus on “ability” without “passion” leads to burnout; “personality” without “passion” leads to boredom, emptiness or frustration.

I think what makes “passion” the most effective driver for our lives is that it helps us stay aligned with our vision. Passions affirm the parts of ourselves that we love most because they feel authentic – not because they impress or make sense to others.

Psychologists who focus on goal-setting often make the distinction between “intrinsic” and “extrinsic” goals. “Extrinsic goals” are generally set for us by other people or created by outside pressures; “intrinsic goals,” on the other hand, align closely with our interests and values. As a result, we usually feel more motivated to achieve intrinsic goals, and they also provide us with a greater sense of accomplishment when we achieve them.

Try reflecting on your personal and professional goals and categorizing them as “intrinsic” or “extrinsic.” For those goals you recognize as extrinsic, ask yourself if they also align with your passions? Or are they goals you’ve set because of other people’s expectations? Be honest!

Now, make “passion” your driver. Focus exclusively on what really motivates, excites and fascinates you. What new goals do you want to add to your list? Can you adapt any of your previous goals to better align with your passions?

When we make “passion” the driver of our professional and personal lives, we not only get to where we’re going without a speeding ticket or accident, but we even enjoy the ride.