Do What You Love – If You Can Work For Yourself

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“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” We’ve all read this saying, and it certainly sounds like a wonderful goal. But is it also being abused by corporate interests? Here’s why I might change it to “Do what you love, if you can work for yourself.”

Miya Tokumitsu has a new book called Do What You Love: And Other Lies About Success & Happiness, recently profiled in this Atlantic article and initially sparked by this older Slate article. I haven’t read the book, but the overall theme is that if everyone is supposed to be happy and passionate, then they can’t really complain about long hours or low compensation. Advantage: Employers.

There is a lot of difficult, boring, yet necessary work to be done out there. The author Tokumitsu wants you to ask: “Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?”, and “Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like nonwork?”

One solution is to make the person who benefits from your passion YOU. That is, if you can, find your passion and eventually start your own business from it. Even if you aren’t the sole owner, you should have a strong vested interest your investment of hard work.

If you can’t, perhaps you should treat your job as just work. Be proud of doing work you don’t love in order to feed and provide security for your family. There is honor is that as well.

Derive joy from what you love in your off-hours, and derive money from your work – and invest that money into assets towards financial independence! I think of financial independence less in black-and-white and more in grey these days. The more income you have from investments, then the more likely you can switch to a job that you enjoy (as such jobs tend to pay less). Alternatively, you could keep your non-passionate work and simply work less hours.

I’ll end with some quotes I have saved recently about finding passionate work. From the book The Martha Rules: 10 Essentials for Achieving Success as You Start, Build, or Manage a Business:

Build your success around something that you love — something that is inherently and endlessly interesting to you.

From The Atlantic article: Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy

Ultimately, what we need in order to be happy is at some level pretty simple. It requires doing something that you find meaningful, that you can kind of get lost in on a daily basis.

Even I find it peculiar at times, but I can totally get lost in learning about investing and personal finance. Hours can pass in what feels like minutes. I don’t know if it will be endlessly interesting, but this has been going on for over 10 years now, so I’m taking that as a good sign!

Comments

  1. I was lucky enough to find a passion that pays really well.

    Started my first website in 2002 and now I’m still working on my projects, while also doing web design for clients. And I never get enough of my ‘work’

  2. Life is all about perspective. I generally love my ‘field’ of work/career. But I’ve had some horrible job experiences in that field. However, I wouldn’t take things personal, detached myself from the job, and collected my paycheck. I stayed centered and happy by being able to enjoy the life I wanted – when I got off of work. Did it for 20 years and benefited greatly. Even when you do something you love – there are days you hate it, hate the customers you serve, hate the pay, so why not get paid more for your time. Bottle the ‘hate’ away and enjoy the life you want, after work.

  3. James N says:

    I’m very pleased to see this subject brought up. There’s a growing notion in our society that everyone has the right to lucrative work that they love so much they’d do it even if no one paid them. In reality most “glamour” professions have a very few slots for people to be wildly successful, and otherwise pay less for more required work.

    Obviously there is some middle ground as well — professions that allow for varying degrees of occasional enjoyment, frequent satisfaction, tolerable amounts of tedium, good work environments, etc. But things like compensation, flexibility, security, and how demanding the job is all factor in as well for quality of life, and it’s as if those aspects aren’t allowed to be brought up as reasons a person should pursue a career. I can’t help thinking we’re doing current and prospective job seekers a disservice by being so selective in what is portrayed as valuable and what is implied to be realistic.

    There’s really nothing wrong with a job that isn’t your greatest passion in life, but that is at least tolerable, fulfills your needs, and lets you pursue other goals in your off-time. As you say, there will always be things that are necessary/valuable to get done, that aren’t fun.

  4. I had read somewhere that you are taking the biggest risk by not taking a risk in life at all. That sums my feedback for your post I believe. It’s motivating to come across write-ups like these.

  5. Yeah.

    For wine reason, somewhere long the line we just started assuming that meaning and income need to come from the same source ergo… we should work more to make more money.

    I like to flip this around.

    Let’s say you need 60K/year to have a financially satisfying life. Once money is taken care of the rest of the time is yours.

    So… if you get a 10% raise that means you can work 10% less. If you’re salary doubles, your work hours can half.

    Of course… most employment doesn’t work this way… but I think if it did you’d have much happier people and much lower unemployment

    For the % of people who LOVE their jobs… great… they can work 100 hour weeks and get rich.

    But like you say… you can do a competent job for 20-30 hours a week and spend the other 20-30 doing something you love separate from financial pressure. As a bonus you’d be way happier at work! And probably more productive.

    How that change can happen is tough though. There’s so much intertwines work, money and success that it’s hard to pull apart.

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