If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.
Given my background even as I pursuit this idea of creating a new life, (here’s nice article by someone else who’s doing the same,) I am repeatedly reminded it’s not yet automatic. I don’t even actually remember anyone asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I do remember, when the real decision-making time rolled around, being told to major in business them get an MBA. Period. End of story. It is sound advice, but it’s not the only way to have a prosperous, let alone happy life.
I also remember being told to get my ‘head out of the clouds,’ yes exactly those words, ‘and to face reality.’ My passions, my temperaments, or my soul’s urge were not only, not a consideration, but were looked upon as a detriment. Still it was good advice. Even as I write that, it’s not a scathing indictment. It’s just the way it was at that point in time. Things have changed.
Although, in retrospect getting my head out of the clouds was indeed good advise, imagine how much better it would have been if I were told to use my passion in a grounded way. Wonder if I was told it was possible to have a job that I loved. I might have looked a little harder or at least considered the details of what a dream life might look like and started working toward that.
I was unexpectedly reminded of this fact as I talked with Sébastien. He’s been working in IT for the last few years. I thought he loved it. He always talked as if he loved the “challenge.” I thought vegging out in front of the TV was just how he unwound at the end of the day. But as we find ourselves in the throws of the refugee crisis working in the humanitarian sector is his true calling. He needs to work for a company that he believes in.
He’s been volunteering as a logician since the first refugees started to arrive. Now he works a full day at the office, then goes to the camp for a few hours after that and still arrives home full of energy and enthusiasm sharing every detail of his day. I was not surprised that he wanted to work with them because he was working for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) when I met him, but I didn’t expect such huge change in him. After only a few days working at the camp, Sébastien told me that he feels like his life has meaning in a way it never has working in IT. I can tell. He’s a new person. And as a bonus he’s much more fun to be around.
There are several things that have come back into focus watching the change in Sébastien:
- The first thing is, when you do something that you really love, it energizes you. I know an accountant who once told me her job was like a puzzles that she enjoyed solving everyday. Writing is so difficult for many, but I love it. There are few things I’d rather do. I guess that the difference between work and what we once call vocation and more currently call working with purpose. And as my examples—Sébastien loving being a logistician, my acquaintance loving accounting and me loving writing—show there are no limits to what we call vocations.
- Secondly is that it is easy to do what you love. All of this ‘work’ is easy for Sébastien because he’s likes it. Part of the reason it is so easy for him is because he uses all of his natural skills. Sébastien is a natural organizer, he naturally likes working behind the scenes and he naturally likes helping people. Even the politics don’t bother him because he’s happily focusing on his role. He is the light in the camp. Everyone who sees him is happy to see him. He’s always willing to give a hand or a sage word because he likes doing what he’s doing.
- And finally, this is so basically, I almost didn’t write it down. But when we are happy and unstressed many ‘work’ issue disappear. I know a businessman who’s now a business advisor simply because he likes what he does and he’s not doing it for the money. I know a retired executive who volunteers at Taproot Foundation because she still wants to continue working in her field, so she donates her skills to non-profits. I have yet another friend who’s been a big sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for years.
Some of the folks I talk about above are employed for profit and some donate their time, but these are all examples where work, volunteering, retirement and passion have merged with their passion. None of these jobs are glamorous, but they love them. These are all people I know, so I can point out some thing they have all done in common. They all:
- Acknowledged what they love. They each stay true to their own hopes, and dreams then aligned them with their ambitions.
- Resolved to keep their eyes open for opportunities and be ready for serendipity to presents itself.
- Prepared for and celebrated having whatever it was they wanted even before it actually happened
Then they repeat the whole sequence again and again and again. I’ve heard so many people ask, “Aren’t we every going to be satisfied?” And although some didn’t like my response, it’s no. We’re never going to be satisfied. At least I hope not, so in return I ask, “Do you really want to be satisfied? Do you want to say this is the last car, the last hug, the last movie, the last meal, the last experience?” Even if I go the same place every year for vacation, for example, I’ll always find something that I didn’t see before: a new restaurant, a new shop, a new path, a tree, an new bird in a new nest. Nope, I never want to be satisfied.
Besides as we grow and learn we change. When I was 20 I didn’t want the same things I wanted when I was 12. When I was 30 my desires changed yet again. And now I’m including the best of everything I’ve experienced so far and keeping my eyes open for anything that makes my heart sing. At every stage of my life my wants and desires change. I learned long ago, if it’s true for me, it’s true for a lot of other people too. So many of us agree that it is the nature of man to be unsatisfied. It can be our greatest strength and in a world of infinite abundance it is never a weakness. It is our fuel.
Whether we were taught to create a life we love or not, by now we know we can, so it’s up to us to be what we want. If we look around there are examples all around proving that’s anything is possible. Living a live we love isn’t only for the rich, the famous or the lucky. We are powerful creators; if anything, we just need to be open to all the possibilities and true to our own heart’s desires because we won’t know what a life we love looks like looking at what other people have. And finally, if we want to simply be happy, we need to remember what Henry Ford said. “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” The choice is ours.
Question. Is your job meaningful to you?