Here is a quote I hear a lot.
“Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
I love what I do, so I can’t call complete bullshit here. But to a lot of people, including myself that just wasn’t realistic for a long time. And actually if I wanted to love what I do fifteen years ago, then I would have tried to become a pro soccer player which with near certainty would have not resulted in me even being able to pay my bills. No, not even my phone bill.
Teaching college grads, I feel like it’s darn near criminal for me to tell them to go out and do what they love when they graduate.
That’s just an impossible high bar initially and one that has very high potential to result into disappointment and frustration.
What if instead, you just tried to love what you’re shooting for. And to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to get you there.
When I was 22, I wanted to be awesome at marketing. Working in one of the world’s best ad agencies was the most incredible experience for me. I was so happy, as I was working towards something I really wanted.
When I was 29, I was working in that same ad agency again. This time I had a much bigger title and a much bigger salary. And yet, I was super sad. I wasn’t happy about what appeared to be my goal. No offense to anyone, but becoming the CEO of ad agency was not what I wanted to do next in my life.
What followed were a few years of wandering fairly aimlessly trying to figure how to find happiness again.
I thought I needed to “love” what I am doing.
Instead, I needed to “love” what I wanted to be doing.
For me, that was to do my work without having to go into an office. I started doubling down on a couple of side projects. I took on a couple of freelance gigs. I started having conversations with prospective future employers.
Even though I was in a job that I didn’t fully love, I was happy. Super happy, because I was working towards a goal I loved.
I accomplished that goal.
And I love how I do what I do.
But if that was the bar I set for myself when I first started my career, I’d be living in my parents’ basement right now.
You don’t have to love what you’re doing.
Yet hopefully you can love what you’re shooting to do.