It seems as if everywhere I look these days people are telling others to follow their passion. That’s amazing. Phrases like “do what you love,” and “if you are doing something you love, it is never work,” and “do whatever sets your soul on fire” are thrown around. It is an incredible concept and a great dream. It’s even an achievable one, I believe. But what happens when one needs to put food on the table? What happens when one needs to support her family? What happens when one’s bank balance is dangerously close to zero?
I want to state very obviously that I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think anyone does. But like most people, I have been in job positions that have not set my soul on fire. In fact, I would argue that some days it felt as if the job was lighting my brain on fire. So, what to do? Is there a balance to be found? Or do we have to choose between money and passion (except for the lucky few that manage to marry the two)?
Let’s be honest. Even your dream job will have aspects that are less than fun. If you think otherwise, try your dream job. I guarantee that there are parts you enjoy more than others. As someone in the more creative sector, I find doing my taxes painful. I actually find most number-related tasks painful. So does that mean I give up on the job I love? No. It means I buckle down and do the work. I recognize that work is not supposed to feel like getting brunch with your girlfriends. It’s called work for a reason. But still…
Just as there is something to dislike in one’s dream job, there is always something to enjoy in the less than perfect job. One article suggests finding passion and satisfaction in doing a job well even if one doesn’t love their situation. Once, I had a job that was not my passion. But I happened to be very good at it. It was inexplicable. For a very long time, my performance and knowing I was doing my best was incredibly satisfying to me…even though there were numbers involved.
Another time, I found myself returning to my cubicle every morning with dread in my stomach. Throughout the day, I allowed the dread to eat at me. I thought of all the reasons I did not like my job and everything I hated about it. I wasn’t alone. According to Forbes, only four in ten people are highly engaged (loving) their jobs and Americans are quitting their jobs at the most rapid rate since 2008.
Hard as it may be, try and focus on what you do like about your job. Be purposeful in making connections with coworkers to create a great atmosphere. Challenge yourself in new ways, even if your job or manager aren’t specifically doing it for you. I know that if I would have done these things, that dread would not have sat in my stomach every day. I would have probably still left but I wouldn’t have been so miserable while I stayed.
While some relatives may roll their eyes at your desire to find something you love, it does matter. Of course, I also understand that my grandfather growing up in the Great Depression did not have this luxury. But let’s not kid ourselves. It does matter.
Someone I know uses the word “life-giving.” She also uses the term “life-draining.” When we are doing life-giving things, as she would say, our energy to do more is multiplied ten fold. We have more energy to put back into our work, our relationships, our hobbies, and bettering the world around us.
If you feel stuck in a situation, I can’t tell you what to do. I can tell you from my own experience that right now I am doing what I love. And it’s still really hard. I am a Freelance Writer and Brand Marketing Manager (I help small businesses with their marketing and Social Media) so my income is dependent on the clients I find and retain. I could go back into the corporate world, back to the cubicle, and I wouldn’t have to worry about my bank balance or quarterly taxes for my business. And I may do that someday. For now, I am trying to put all my passion and energy into making this work.
NB Creative, Inc.
PlumbTalk Content Manager
Do you believe one should do what one loves or one should love what one does? Have you ever been in a situation where you had to make a choice? Is there a way to split the difference?