Is “Love What You Do” Dead?


© Bartpeereboom |

“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” (Marc Anthony)

I believe that, if you are going to do something for 40+ hours a week, you should love what you do.

There has been a lot of backlash over this concept. Several people (some who write books and for prestigious ezines) do not agree that this is possible. Some of their complaints:

  • People don’t have one thing they love
  • Money may not follow, so it delays/prevents financial stability
  • Doing something every day may ruin the passion
  • It’s selfish and narcissistic
  • It devalues unglamorous labor

In reading these contrary opinions, it’s very clear to me that the authors interpret the “do what you love” directive very differently than I do. In a nutshell, they believe that you must identify a passion, then chase it until you (hopefully) make money. That is not at all the way I see it.

In support of my opinion, I’ve had 5 different careers, and I’ve always loved what I did (and when the time came that I didn’t, I knew it was time to make a change). That doesn’t mean that I chased 5 different passions, per se. My earliest jobs were (very pragmatically) pursued to bring in a paycheck and pay down student debts, but I loved those jobs nonetheless. Why? Because I believe that there are many different reasons to love what you do:

  • Location: do you have a short commute? Is there a walking path or a gym at the office? Does it have an awesome cafeteria? (If you laugh at that last one, you’ve never been to lunch at an SAP facility.)
  • Culture: are people collaborative and pleasant? Is there a camaraderie? Is social responsibility or continuous growth encouraged?
  • People: do you respect your coworkers? Are they really good in their field? Or perhaps very caring? Are they the kind of people you can learn from?
  • Mission: do you believe in what the company does? Do you believe it plays a key role in an industry or in bettering society?
  • Job opportunities: do you get to do unique things? Work independently? Work from home? Take on growing responsibility? Are there paths to management or to other areas of the business available to you?
  • Job satisfaction: do you feel good at the end of the day? Do you get a sense of accomplishment from the work? Do you feel like you are part of something bigger?

Maybe this is about whether your glass is half-full (there is something to love in any job if you look for it) or half-empty (there’s only one job for me, and everything else sucks!) ; but either way, here’s the truth:

You have the power to choose whether you love what you do. 

Just because you can’t have your dream job (because there really aren’t a lot of paid video game tester or professional donut taster positions out there) doesn’t mean you can’t love the job that you do get.  Open up your thinking a little and find a way to do some of what you love in whatever you end up doing. To get started, think about the following:

  • What do you like to do?  Include everything you enjoy not only as hobbies but also in your work.
  • Now take what you like to do and really ask yourself: what do I LIKE about doing that?  For example, if you love snowboarding, what is it you like about it? Being outdoors? Going fast? Being in control? Doing something physical? All of these can be features of a job other than professional snowboarder.
  • What kind of environment do you like to work in? Alone or with teams? Formal or informal? Social/loud or reserved/quiet?
  • Are there particular types of customers or industries that you want to help?
  • How do you see yourself growing through your work?

When you assemble the answers to all of these questions, you will find that there are more ways to do what you love (or love what you do) than you thought.

I love what I’m doing. How about you?

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