How ‘Do What You Love’ Sets Us Up for Disappointment – and What to Do About it!
I have an issue with the current self-help meme that encourages people to “do what they love”. How many times have you heard:
- “Once you do something you love, you never have to work again.” Willie Hill
- “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Confucius
- “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Mark Twain
It’s a beautiful idea. But it misleads – and sets us up for disappointment. Here’s how:
- Work requires effort and results in order to get paid. Whether you’re an artist, small business owner, office or shift worker, if you don’t produce something to show for your efforts you won’t get paid. And that means you won’t be able to pay the bills.
- And when you have to or need to do something, it’s never as much fun as when you just want to do it! Work is not play, it’s called work for a reason!
- When what you love becomes your work, there are expectations, requirements and deadlines. This means it’s automatically less enjoyable than when it was a hobby or an idea.
- As a job, career or business, ‘work you love’ is going to involve doing some things that you don’t love. So you will always be ‘working’ at least SOME of the time.
This ‘find work you love and you’ll never work again’ idea also distracts us from what is ALREADY possible in our lives:
We can enjoy what we are already doing more – if we make a conscious effort.
How? Get clear on your talents and values, and make a conscious effort to bring these into what you do. This automatically helps you feel more empowered, and work feel better and more fulfilling.
For example I value connection, kindness and respect. So even when I was bored (and disrespected by my boss) working full-time on a supermarket checkout, I made the effort to make eye contact, smile and treat ALL customers with respect. That included harassed rude adults, the hard of hearing elderly and the occasional drunk or homeless person. I saw the ‘difficult’ people as a challenge – to see their humanity. It changed a boring job into a challenge and huge growth opportunity.
‘Finding work you love and never working again’ is not available to everyone!
Many people are limited by their education, financial resources, relationships, health – both physical and mental, location and more. For example:
- Some people have more family responsibilities, debts or bills to pay than others.
- People in low-paid jobs find it much harder to create alternatives – eg. to save money to go to school, or even get the on the job training they might want.
- And some people are just less mentally strong and motivated than others.
Instead, find ways to use your talents in the life you already have.
There are many, many ways to find and make time for doing what we love – and it doesn’t have to be through finding the perfect job!
Here are 7 ideas to express your talents and values more in your current life:
- Volunteer in an area you are passionate about.
- Dedicate time to pursue a hobby.
- Make a conscious effort to use and express your talents and values in your current role.
- Ask for work, projects or a sideways move that would allow you to use your talents and values more.
- Make a conscious effort to use your talents and express your values at home eg. with your children, parents or friends.
- Take a course in something you love doing.
- Start a part-time business or project on the side. This removes the pressure of earning money, and allows you to experience some of the less pleasant aspects of doing what you love as a business – before you decide to go for it full-time.
Finding ‘work we love’ is a luxury that many people cannot afford. The fact that we even have it as an option means we are luckier than most.
If we do decide to “follow our heart” and look for work we love, we need to accept that it’s NORMAL to dislike some of what we will have to do! Does anyone love chasing up unpaid invoices?
And ironically, be prepared for the fact that the more you love your work, the harder you will probably end up working. Stress and overwhelm are a distinct possibility (which I totally identify with!).
And if we don’t have ‘work we love’ remember, it’s not about finding the perfect job so that work doesn’t feel like work:
Instead, find ways to express your talents and values across your work AND life, so that your life is fulfilling as a WHOLE!
PS. You could also hire a life coach to help you!
If you liked this article, you may also like:
- What’s YOUR Rat Park? (You’re probably already in it!)
- What is Voluntary Simplicity? Simplify Your Life and Be Happier!
- Are you Creating Your Dream Life?
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