“I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.” Steve Jobs
Passion is one of the most overused words of the moment. We are surrounded by passionate people who are enthusiastic about disrupting everything and making the world a better place. Now don’t worry if that makes you gag a little on the inside, it should. Not only is it not credible, it goes against every principle of authenticity that has ever existed.
There are a lot of mentors out there ready to teach you to make a change from your 9 to 5, get that dream job or become an entrepreneur. In exchange for teaching you how to turn your passion profitable, you have to pay them an obscene amount of money you’ve hustled for. And when you finally get to do what you love, you realize it’s not as wonderful as you’d expected. Nothing comes without struggle, that’s one lesson I have repeatedly come across.
Steve Jobs is often quoted when it comes to loving what you do. But I’m afraid most people misinterpret his words. I have too. I didn’t understand at the time that his words referred to motivation to go on after you lose something. The quote at the beginning is about what made him go on after being fired from Apple. He’s not actually saying to find out what you love and pursue that, because for a lot of people it would mean a complete waste of time that wouldn’t bring them any financial benefit at the end of the day. His advice is rather to identify aspects you like about what you’re already doing. Being satisfied with your job or work can improve your views on life and help you stay positive.
Many people think they love doing something, but when it comes to approaching it as a career or business, they realize they only loved the idea of it. Let’s take writing or blogging for example. There are many wannabe bloggers out there, but they aren’t willing to put effort into it. Writing an article doesn’t come naturally, there are hours of research and merciless editing behind it, principles to follow and a whole SEO process that makes your head spin. You don’t get to pour your heart out, you have to write about what your audience wants to read and be helpful while at it. Doing something for pleasure and doing something for purpose go separate ways. Of course, you have to do that something for purpose with pleasure, otherwise it will show. I would say that’s the winning combination.
Careers and jobs aren’t what they used to be. The lines have blurred and you have to be prepared for a variety of roles under a single name. You have to be strong enough to motivate yourself even when you feel you hate your work. Because that time will come, if it hasn’t already. Work can be a roller coaster, and it can affect you if you are too emotionally involved. Putting all your heart into something only to have someone tell you it is below standards will crush you rather than motivate you. Whereas if you are objective and not too emotional about it, you can understand there is room for improvement and you will do it better next time.
Your passion can turn into a nightmare and lead to disappointment. I love creating wallpapers, manipulating images and writing fiction. But I don’t enjoy so much when I have to remake my work according to someone else’s exact indications. The thing about creating something is that you have a vision. It’s unique, and many people don’t understand that. They want to impose their own vision through you, while they lack the skills and means to bring it to life.
My current profession is interesting and close enough to my passions to keep me motivated. I get to play with Photoshop quite frequently, and I don’t mind receiving suggestions. I can explain objectively why I used this or that element and what it stands for. As for copywriting, it’s an entire mystery to me how a girly girl can write about tech and enjoy it. Unlike those times when I want to create something for the sake of it and I have to have a certain mood, here I dive in and start doing it. That’s the main difference, and it’s beneficial for work.
When you start working on something, you should have a clear purpose and a finite goal in mind. That can be confusing and conflicting for a person who approaches it with a passionate attitude. And though following your passion may sound idyllic, leaving your job without a safety net can turn into a bliss or a nightmare. The harsh reality is that most people struggle through the transition without ever making it. Meanwhile, bills pile up and they can barely survive month after month. After reaching bottom line, there are 3 possibilities: they either rejoin the workforce, they stay there or they bounce back and succeed where they failed the first time. Those who choose the last option have learned a thing or two about determination and ambition.
Truly successful people don’t pursue their dreams, they find opportunities to love what they are doing. The founders of today’s most successful companies didn’t dream about doing what they are doing now. It came to them naturally while they set out to do something else. And they found opportunities to give back, to improve things and grow the business at the same time.
There are very few people who can honestly say they are doing what they love and it worked out great for them. Those people who fail massively rarely come to the limelight or have the courage to confess they made a mistake. Unfortunately, not all of us have large trust funds that will last three generations from now on, so we have to be a little bit pragmatic.
Going back to Steve Jobs for the last time, I think his nugget of wisdom is not to settle for a job or profession you hate doing. Anything you love can turn into something you hate if it makes you suffer. That passion you have right now can become your pain point and you will dread it. If you hate what you are doing now, it’s ok to move on to something better. And it’s ok to go on until you are happy with what you are doing for a living. Remember, if you work smart & you’re kind, amazing things will happen 😉
PS: the image for this post is a wallpaper I’ve created with resources from Deviantart.