You Can Love What You Do for a Living, But Still Think it Feels Like Work
Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.
Yes, we’ve all heard that sentiment countless times. We repeat it to recent graduates like it’s the only career advice they’ll ever need. We print it on motivational posters, bumper stickers, and encouraging note cards. We incorporate it into commencement addresses. Heck, I’m sure it’s even embroidered on the occasional throw pillow.
But, does this treasured piece of advice even ring true? Will finding a career that you’re insanely passionate about make your entire life feel like one big tropical vacation?
No, I don’t think so. In fact, I think it’s perfectly normal to love your job and simultaneously recognize the fact that it’s hard work.
That’s right—just because you sometimes feel stressed, overwhelmed, or even a little tired doesn’t mean that you’re in the wrong line of work. Here are four facts that debunk that infamous (and misleading) proverb.
1. Work Is Not Play
I absolutely love what I do, and I’m lucky to be able to make a living at it. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not consciously aware of the fact that I would usually rather be enjoying cocktails with friends than trying to meet a deadline.
Yes, work and play are two vastly different things. Work requires exertion and effort in order to pay the bills and put food on the table, whereas play is all about fun and enjoyment. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to incorporate some of that joy and passion into your daily routine. But, that definitely doesn’t mean that your entire career will be a walk in the park.
Adding in that pressure and the expectation of pay is exactly what separates your job from everything else. Unlike fun, work isn’t always something that you want to do—it’s something that you need to do. And, chances are, when what you love turns into your job, you just might not love it as much anymore.
2. Your Number One Passion Isn’t Always a Realistic Career
Think back to when you were a little kid. Remember when people would always bend down on a knee and inquire about what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you remember what your answer to that question was? Well, I always told people I wanted to be a bird.
Yes, having passions, interests, and big dreams is encouraged. But, finding what you love is only half the equation. You need to be able to make a living doing it. Real-life pressures require us to pursue avenues that are able to provide us with a decent and comfortable standard of living.
Perhaps you’re an outstanding violinist or video gamer. That’s awesome! However, we all recognize that these are pretty exclusive and specialized career fields, even if you are insanely talented. So, while you may have crossed “identifying what you love” off your to-do list—you’re also probably well aware that love doesn’t pay the bills.
3. No Job Is Completely Perfect
There are plenty of people out there who absolutely love their careers. But, that shouldn’t be twisted into a perception that everything’s perfect.
Pretty much every position comes along with at least a few pesky tasks or responsibilities that will simply never be enjoyable. You may adore what you do 98% of the time. But, there are bound to be a few related duties that you simply dread.
Maybe you hate monitoring incoming invoices. Perhaps you loathe the quarterly board meeting. Or, maybe you simply can’t stand filling out your monthly expense report. Whatever it is, there’s undoubtedly a certain aspect of your day-to-day that makes you say, “Ugh.”
Trust me—you’re not alone. I’m sure even professional beer taste testers have piles of paperwork that they’d rather not deal with (not to mention gross beer). There’s always something.
4. The More You Love Your Job, The Harder You’ll Work
Loving your job is a wonderful thing. Not only are you bringing home the bacon, but you also get the added reward of feeling fulfilled, accomplished, and satisfied each time you stroll out of your office. But, you likely don’t feel that way because you spent the entire day slacking.
That’s right, loving your livelihood requires hard work. It’s pretty much human nature to enjoy the things we’re good at. And, in order to be good at your position, you need to put in some serious elbow grease.
Oftentimes, it’s not just the work that we love. It’s the reward and satisfaction we get after doing it well. And we all know that getting things done well involves exerting effort and staying at the office for the occasional late night. It’s a never-ending cycle.
“Do what you’ll love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.” It’s a well-meaning sentiment. But, it can actually be somewhat discouraging and guilt-inducing for those of us who do love what we do, yet still feel wiped by the end of the day. Don’t worry—it’s completely normal to love your job, but still think it feels like hard work.
Unless you’re employed as a professional puppy snuggler. Then I don’t want to hear any complaints.
Photo of tired woman of Shutterstock.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author