Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Do What You Love

I've always found the advice "Do what you love, and the money will follow" to be unhelpful and, frankly, a little perplexing.  I mean, unless you are a performer, or an artist, or the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, doing what you love for most people would be a one-way ticket to the poorhouse.  The fact of the matter is, few people *love* doing what most well-paying jobs require.

Any time anyone ever offered me this quote as advice, I quipped in response "I don't know of anyone who will pay me to read novels and pet my dog all day."  I mean, historically speaking, those are the two things I've loved doing the most.  Honestly, I think I'm in the majority here, not the minority, in having the things I love doing be things that would in no way equate to a paying job. . . let alone a job that paid a livable wage.

I am now several years into my second professional career, and in my years of working, I have known a lot of nurses, doctors, therapists of various types, and now lawyers, as well as other professionals.  Very few of them *loved* what they did for a living.  Notice I didn't say "none."  The ones who did love their work certainly stand out in my mind.  But they were distinctly in the minority.

Do you think my experience is peculiar to the fields in which I've worked?  (Nursing/healthcare and law.)  It's a well-known fact in the legal profession that a lot of people hate their jobs, and I recently read an article that nurses are among the most dissatisfied with their jobs.  Do you think that, in other fields, more of the people love their work?

Don't get me wrong.  I don't hate my job, and there are certainly aspects of it that I like and enjoy (as well as others I do not).  There was aspects of being a nurse that I enjoyed, too.  (Although, for me, there were more things about that particular job that I disliked than liked.)

But I don't love my job.  I really can't imagine *loving* a job.

I can say, without a doubt, that I love being a mother. But yet again, it's a job no one will pay me to do. :-)


  1. This is a good post. I also do not *love* my job, and I really can't imagine working anywhere doing anything that would warrant me saying I LOVED it. that's a strong word! But I know if I stayed home full time I would not love that either. I would also like to read and pet my dog, that sounds glorious :)

  2. I can say from experience that trying to become a professional artist or performer is also definitely going to make you poor! Hence, the reason I am an Executive Assistant.

  3. I think a majority of people I work with do actually love their jobs (firefighters), but most people? No way.
    ...if you do hear of the "reading novels and petting dogs" job, let me know. I would be perfect for it!

  4. I count myself really, really lucky that I do get to do what I love -- I'm an academic, so my time is split between teaching and research. Oh, there are days when the paper I'm working on isn't going well, or I really don't want to prepare for my next lecture, but those are transient days. Far more often I come home from the office excited about my current projects, looking forward to my future ones, happy to have had adult conversation, and simply reveling in being surrounded by all my books.

    I am very, very lucky.

  5. Yep, I am right there with you. I think people are lucky to fall upon something they are particularly good at that people will pay them for.

    I don't love my job either (nor do I hate it). It helps me pay the bills so I can afford to do the stuff I love to do that I don't get paid for.

  6. @aryanhwy, you are indeed very, very lucky. And rare, at least based on my life experiences.

    (And your post makes me think of how I decided to go to law school instead of earning a PhD in clinical psychology and teaching. Hmm.)

  7. Most folks that I've known really don't like their jobs. I have never had one that I really enjoyed except for ones where I was working with children.

  8. I also actually love my job, and have loved almost all jobs I've ever had with one exception (the last place I worked - I spent 18 months there before working hard to find another job, because I was miserable- but that was more about the company than the work).

    I've actually thought about switching careers and going into nursing - maybe I should discuss with you before I look into that!

    I've never taken that quote quite as literally as you have it written above -- to me "pet my dog and reading" means finding a career working with animals and teaching english, or something along those lines.

  9. Wow, really, that many people dislike their jobs??? I can't say that I'm doing what I thought I would - HR for a govt agency - but my team is amazing and I get to do a lot of writing and research, which is something I love. And it is so flexible and supportive of working mothers. Of course I don't expect to be paid for petting my dog, but it helps to integrate things I like doing/am good at, and I suppose I am also crazy lucky. I do think some fields are chronically and unjustifiably underpaid - like teaching - but I also know that money and actual job satisfaction don't necessarily go hand in hand. Interesting post.


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