This article was first published on Medium.
I bet at some point in your life someone advised you to do what you love. I bet you’ve even told someone that yourself.
But it’s really bad advice.
We do the stuff we love no matter what, because we love it, so it’s absurd to think that we need to get paid for it.
I’ve been writing since I was in pre-school. Before I knew the mechanics of how to write I was dictating writing to my dad.
Maybe you are thinking, “”But you said you love to write, and look at you — -you are getting paid to write!” But writing is just one thing I love. It’s not the only thing, or even the thing I love most. You are the same. People are complicated, with many layers. Learning about yourself is a life-long process, and there is no way you love only one thing.
So what would even be the point of trying to figure out what one thing you love to do? There isn’t just one thing. And it probably wouldn’t give you the life you want anyway.
The thing you should do for your career is something you can get paid for. Often it’s something you wouldn’t do unless you were getting paid. When you talk about doing what you love, you mean something you’d do even if you weren’t getting paid. But jobs like that basically don’t exist. So why set up that expectation? If you think about the rewards for a job, it’s not mainly the pleasure in doing the thing itself. It’s participating in something beyond yourself, contributing to society, and being paid (which demonstrates that you are valued).
If it weren’t bad enough that you are supposed to somehow find a perfect career doing the one thing you love, you are expected to do it before you are thirty so as to avoid a quarter-life crisis that come from not knowing what is the One Thing you are meant to do. It’s too much, which is why so many people spend their early twenties depressed — they realize it’s impossible to meet your life goals by just doing what you love.
A personality test will show you a list of your strengths based on your personality type, and you’ll get a list of jobs that fit with those strengths. These are jobs where you will flourish because they match who you are. And if you do a job that is fulfilling, that’s enough. You can go home after work and do what you love.
You do not get a good life from your job, and that’s good news. It means that your job is something that helps you create the life you want; you job is not all there is to life but rather tool to create a life. And doing what you love is important, but you don’t need to be paid for it.
So if you can’t do what you love for a living, don’t feel bad. Don’t even be surprised. It’s totally normal. Instead, do what you love for fun. Adult life is full of huge pressures. Getting money to do what you love shouldn’t be one of those pressures. If you love it, you do it anyway, because it makes your life good.