If working long hours for the rest of your life is inevitable, why not work long hours doing what you love?
I’m curious if that statement is behind much of our thinking about work and “doing what you love” today.
In American society, it’s expected that we’ll work long hours, take few vacations, and fill our limited leisure time with a good dose of television and family activities. There really isn’t too much free time left if you’re playing to win.
So those who “play to win” have developed a strategy in order to avoid going insane like those guys in Office Space. The play to win experts have herded us hard-working Americans to the promised land of “doing what you love.” It’s become a cottage industry of sorts with learning communities, conferences, books, blogs, and podcasts.
The key to doing what you love is actually working MORE at first to develop that side business. You have to work two jobs and then, as the job “you love” gets more profitable, you can ditch the job you hate and just do what you love.
It’s hard, but it has to be more fulfilling, right?
But here’s the thing, this solution doesn’t necessarily solve our problems. We have this huge carrot in front of us promising that we’ll be happy if we could just spend our many, many working hours doing the thing we love. What if happiness is found in working less or finding fulfillment outside our jobs?
What if “doing what you love” just confirms work and business success have become an idol?
And even if you end up doing what you love, you may end up hating it if you have to do it all day, every day. In fact, you may discover that you really hate certain parts of it, and that could make you even more miserable because you thought you loved this thing. Now the thing you love has become tainted and you just feel trapped.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do the things that we love. Heck, if you can find a job that jives with you, dive in.
I’m more concerned that we are “treating” our discontent with the wrong medicine. What if we’re miserable at work because we’re investing too much of our time and energy into it?
What if most of us just need to let our jobs be our jobs and find a way to make them sustainable? And even if we do strive to create a job we love, that doesn’t give us carte blanche to revolve our lives around it.
I’m wondering this week if it’s better to ask, “What can I do?” and “How can I best honor God and my family by making that a piece of who I am?”
I’ve never really bought into the “do what you love” mantra because I’ve honestly spent most of my time searching for the areas where I’m at least competent. Never mind whether or not I “love” my work. I’ve just been trying to find work that I can do. Being an aimless failure has its advantages… maybe?
I started writing because I loved it, but the writing work I do to bring in money is based far more on necessity than love. And I’m perfectly OK with that. I wouldn’t complain if my books suddenly took off and I could write them full time. However, even in book publishing, my career of choice, there are some really unsavory parts.
Even the jobs we love have things we hate.
Sometimes we can’t be picky. I’ve had really bad jobs and really great jobs. The freelance writing I do now is the kind of job that A. I can do and B. Fits our vision for our family. I do writing that I love, and I do writing that I don’t love. The former does very little to pay the bills, and the latter does just enough to make ends meet.
I struggle to balance the call to seek God’s Kingdom first and the necessity of making money. While it’s possible that I could serve God “better” by writing inspiring and instructive books all day, it’s not impossible to serve God while writing clear website copy.
My goal isn’t necessarily to find the job I want because I can serve myself or serve God whether or not I love my work.
Loving a job can be a great thing, but it can also be the quickest path to despair and misery when our job fails to deliver what we need the most.