Do You, Can You, Should You Love What You Do?

Let me put this out there, first and foremost: I love what I do. 

Let me also put this out there: I don’t always like what I do.

Hear me out.

One of the greatest fallacies out there is that you need to love something in order to do it. While I agree that you don’t need to love everything you do, there needs to be, there should be something you love. There must be a greater mission you’re working toward.

To paraphrase a recent interview with John Amaechi (which I HIGHLY recommend you take 6 minutes to watch) – an ex NBA player who came out after retiring and has since been doing some pretty amazing things:

“People who think that you need to love something in order to do it don’t understand fundamental human motivation. Take professional basketball as an example. The idea that a player “loves what he does” is a marketing tactic. They’re trying to convince everyone that they love what they do so much, that they would do it for nothing. But, if that’s true, why was their a lockout? Why did players hold out for more money? Why do players have agents to make sure they make more money, more than most of us can conceive making in a year, 10 years, even a lifetime. If they loved what they did, truly loved the game, would season’s be eroding, knowing they’ll still end up making a gagillion dollars?”

A couple takeaways: 

Money matters

Don’t be silly and pretend that it doesn’t. Now, for me, a lot of money doesn’t matter. A comfortable amount to live and do the things I’d like to do (travel occasionally, subsribe to Netflix, own a few Apple products, pay for a $4 latte from time to time) is important. Making boatloads? Not at all. But money does matter. We need it to survive. To live. To plan our futures. Accept that.

Bitching: In Perspective

I don’t disagree with anything John says, but I do believe it’s possible to love what you do, because of what it can represent on a grander scale. Which brings me back to the first couple lines of this post.

I don’t always like what I do. I don’t really like building websites or designing things. I’d rather leave that to people who are much better than I am with it. I know what my time is best used for, what I’m best at, and that isn’t it.

That being said, that work that I don’t neccesarily “like” is still a big part of my day to day – though it’s a continual goal to move more and more away from that.

But my bitching about the things I don’t like must be taken with a grain of salt and put into perspective because ultimately, I love what I do. I love that my career as a business owner and entrepreneur allows me to have freedom. Freedom to make my own decisions. Freedom to be my own boss. Freedom to pave my own way. The lifestyle I lead is one I can’t get enough of – it’s so important to me, my way of life, that the little things I may not like that are part of the big picture, are inconsequential.

What’s the point?

This week I’m sitting down with the people I work with to review the past year and think about the year ahead. When we talk about big goals, here’s what I have to say:

“As much as I may bitch about a client or complain about my lack of passion in developing websites – it should all be taken within reason. In short, I’m 26 years old and doing something quite frankly I thought I’d never be able to do. I see so many people around me who are genuinely unhappy with the work they do and the lives they’re living. They’re getting fired. Being laid off. Jumping from job to job hoping something will stick.

While it’s important for us to continue to grow, to have conversations like these, and to focus in on what we really LOVE to do and what we’re really good at, I’m also content with continuing to roll with the punches and see how things evolve and develop. 

The point? I don’t have it all mapped out. I don’t have a 5 year plan. I don’t have my retirement planed. I haven’t “figured it out” yet and I think it’s too early in my life and career to pinpoint one specific goal – but for now, I (for the most part) love what I do – I certainly love the lifestyle I live in, which makes all the BS and day-to-day “problems” not a “real” problem in the grand scheme of things.”

I think it’s important for all of us. Every single one, to step back and think about what we’re doing in our lives and in our careers, and to make sure that there is something that we love. It doesn’t have to be answering emails. It doesn’t have to be the fact that you have to get up at 8am and go into the office this morning.

But there’s something that does matter. There’s something that does get you off. That turns you on. That excites you. That ignites a fire within you.

Maybe it’s that fact that you have the ability to genuinley help others, through your actions, through your words, through your services. Maybe it’s the passion for creating tangible “things”. Maybe it is answering emails – maybe it’s balancing corporate accounts. Maybe it’s creating a career of your own that allows you to live wherever you want.

Whatever it is, big or small, when the going gets tough, when you’re struggling with the frustrating day to day, remember what you love. Remember why you do what you do. Think about the big picture.

Can you love what you do? Should you love what you do? Absolutely. Life’s too damn short for anything less.

(Photo credit)