“If you love what you do, you’ll never work another day in your life.” This is one of those expressions a person hears and then thinks I hope one day I can say that to someone and actually mean it. And while the saying itself is not inherently misleading, and is, in fact, full of optimism, I think it needs further explanation. Are we actually capable of reaching a professional plane where we are immune from “work”?
The short answer? No.
Because here’s the thing, a job—even one that you love—and personal fulfillment are not always mutually exclusive. Which means, what you love and what you do can often exist in separate spheres. So…
FIND THE TIME
There is something to be said about doing what you love OFF the clock. And if your passion is truly your passion, you’ll find time to do it, period. I hate to sound like one of those YouTube entrepreneurs who “saves lives” with inspirational content, but they’ve got a point. I’ll use myself as an example.
My passion is writing fiction. A few hours at the desk every night is all I ever want. Though, the harsh reality is that no one pays you to do that anymore. Even if you are the voice of your generation, you’ll likely need to supplement your writing with something else. Some people teach (Stephen King), some work in publishing (Toni Morrison), some work at a post office (William Faulkner), and some do something else entirely. And that’s okay. I worked at a grocery store, stocking shelves until my eyeballs melted, but when I got home, I wrote. Now for work I write copy, and even though it’s not my dream, it’s something I’m good at and it keeps my technical and time management skills sharp.
MAKE YOUR DAY JOB WORTH IT
Positivity feeds positivity. Making the best of your situation will only push you forward. As much as we all dream of the hip office with massive windows and a foosball table in the corner where people pitch ideas from their bean bag chairs, the truth is that some of us still work out of a closet. And again, that’s okay. Because what makes a workplace enjoyable is not the material objects within it, but the value it places on creativity.
That doesn’t mean every job is directly correlated to making something. Sometimes it’s as simple as having your ideas heard. And the best way to ensure that that happens is by being a good co-worker. Hear other people out, and it will be reciprocated. Trust is of the most important requirements to make a team successful, if not, the most important. And if you feel your voice is heard at work, you’ll be confident and positive in your home life and other pursuits.
Plus, if you view your job as what allows you to do what you really like in your free time, you might not hate it so much. Let’s say what you really want to do is make jewelry and eventually build your own webstore. Then do it. But remember that it will take some money for materials, web design, shipping, etc. You need that day job not just as a resource, but for your own sanity. If you can bring in a paycheck by say, fixing sinks, and make it a positive experience in the process, imagine how much more meaningful any success from making necklaces will feel.
TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS
This piece of advice is what the kids would call “An oldie, but a goodie.” You need to know your worth. If your job belittles what you’re passionate about, or makes you feel as though your voice is not being heard, then is it really worth your time? The great novelist Kurt Vonnegut once worked at Sports Illustrated, which everyone can agree is a very respectable gig for a writer. While there, he was strong-armed into writing a puff piece about a racehorse that tried to escape its stable. The young Vonnegut reportedly stared at a blank piece of paper all day before finally typing “The horse jumped over the f—ing fence.” Then he left, never to return. Sometimes it’s that easy, and sometimes it requires hanging in there for a little bit until a better-suited, comparable-income opportunity comes along. So long as you don’t lose what makes you tick.
But you know what? You might love your job already. Which brings me to ask, what are you doing here? Because as we’ve discussed, there is no miracle cure for work. Everyone does it. Even the hippie couple living off the grid still has to cut firewood, gather food, and maintain a shelter. To work is to be human. So, if you love what you do, great. If you’ve landed your dream job, even better. Just remember that there are days when it’s still going to feel like work.