doing what you love
First of all, that's bullshit. Now that we've gotten that out of the way let me explain.
Some time ago I found myself sitting at a round table with a group of people who were there to talk about how to "build a life you love" or something to that effect. The leaders of the group went around asking everyone if they loved their jobs. No one in the room except for the leaders admitted to loving their job and it felt like a gray cloud dampened the room's vibe once this fact was revealed. "If you don't love your job then what are you still doing there?" they asked. "You should quit your job so you can do what you love," they continued.
Upon further reflection within the past year, I have come to learn that the idea of doing what you love is a crock of bullshit created by self-help "gurus" and "creative entrepreneurs" in order to sell you a dream and/or an online course with "5 Steps to Living Out Loud."
I think the idea of doing what you love can get out of touch with the reality of our lives. If we were all to do what we loved then we would have an excess of singer-songwriters and scarcity of accountants. Not everyone can do what they love. And, you know what? That is okay.
That sounds bad, doesn't it? Like I'm telling you to kill your dreams. I'm not, promise. I just think that we shouldn't get caught up in feeling 100% happy all the time about what we do for a living. The love we have for our jobs or careers exists, but what those sellers of the "perfect life" don't tell you is that it's not an unconditional love. Some days you won't love it and those are the days where you may need to dig a little deeper to make it through. That doesn't mean you need to quit right then and there. It's important to know the difference between a job that's an overall bad fit for you versus a job in which you're having a bad day.
Instead of trying to find work that you love consider find work that:
"Love" is such a broad word that means different things to different people. I think we should get more specific. What is helping me is thinking less about finding what I "love" because that can change without reason. I rather find work that plays to my strengths. I think knowing what your strengths are can help you differentiate what's real and what's not.
- Aligns with your skillset
- People will pay you for
- Provides for continued growth
- Makes sense for the lifestyle you want to live
- Plays to your strengths
Here are a few ways to determine if a career path is right for you:
Here's to doing what makes sense to you and understanding that sometimes love has nothing to do with it.
- Take the Strengths Finder test to learn what your strengths are. I swear by this.
- Talk to people who know you on a personal level and ask them what your best attributes are.
- Talk to people who know you on a professional level and ask them what your best attributes are.
- Look for patterns in the news you read or activities you participate in during your spare time. Are you drawn to specific industries?
- Research people who are doing what you want to be doing. Determine what they all have in common. Reach out to them, if possible, to learn more about how they got to where they are.
- Talk to your supervisor or an HR person at your current job about your career goals and what can be done to better align your strengths to your current position. Explore all options before giving up.
- Throw away your 5-year plan. Don't box yourself in. There is so much out there that may be great for you, but may not fit perfectly into your plans. Keep yourself a little open.
- Spend some time alone to deeply consider your options. Write a pro/cons list, meditate, sleep on it, see a play. Just take a step back from everything so you can eventually make a decision with a fresh mind.