You hear all the time that doing what you love or what you are passionate about is the way to career happiness.
People around us try to sell this idea that loving your work is extremely important in your life. These people have good intentions - they don’t want you to be forced into a life that you don’t like or a career that doesn’t satisfy you. But is that advice still true? Will you find a career that you are incredibly passionate about, that will make your whole life look like a vacation?
My career history
I wrote in a recent post about my story, how I never knew which profession to choose and how I changed career several times.
But to summarize, I graduated in Pedagogy, I worked as a teacher and a few years later I changed my focus to technology. I Had experience as a support analyst, marketing, commercial and in the last years I worked as Product Manager/Owner. And right now I’m making a new career transition: I’m on a journey to become a software developer.
I’ve always had a lot of indecision about my profession and after walking through all these different areas I ended up realizing that it’s not the work itself that gave me the daily motivation, but the goal of the achievement. I think I’ve always been driven by challenges, I’ve always been very determined to do all I could to get where I wanted to go.
I constantly get excited about something, I dedicate myself to a certain subject and when I learn a little I lose all interest and there is always an emptiness, a feeling that something is missing. That’s when the anxiety started because I wondered if I was really doing the right thing. If I chose another area the same thing won’t happen? Or will I regret it? Or I actually liked what I did - sometimes yes, sometimes no. Is it normal?
Is passion an illusion?
Motivated by phrases such as “do what you love and will never have to work again in life” I started to research the subject, wanted to understand why I am not passionate about what I do or why this passion ends after a while. This epidemic of unhappiness at work is so serious that it has become a subject for research. Did you know that at each 8 employees of a company, only 1 is happy and engaged with what it does?
After a lot of research, that kind of statement started to bother me. Doing what you like, being satisfied with the work is super important for our happiness, but saying that this is necessary is a little unfair because not everyone has the opportunity to do what they love. Besides, the works related to doing what you love are usually related to travel, creativity, fashion and several things that you do when you want to have fun or relax, not work.
I have found that most of these people who end up working with what they love usually have a very clear vision of what they want for life. They have found the way to their true vocation and there is no other option for them. But what about the rest of us? And those for whom the path is not so clear? Many people that I know say they are not sure what they want to do.
So imagine the frustration of these people who don’t know what they love to do, or even those who can’t quit their jobs or change careers. Another point is that maybe you can love a lot of things at the same time. Passions are changeable - who has never changed their opinion in life?
But I’m not saying that if you’re unhappy at work you need to accept it. Hating your job, counting the hours you spend there, counting the minutes until the end of the day can be bad for your health. If you really don’t like your work, change. But know that trying to fill your life by just doing things that you are in love with or thinking that your work should not only support your financial needs, but also simultaneously support your spiritual, mental and emotional needs will only result in a state of frustration.
The point under consideration here is that there is nothing wrong if you do not feel passionate about your work. Perhaps the insistence that it is essential to love your work is more depressing than working on a job which is good but not exciting for you - I say this from personal experience.
There are other ways
I recently read a book called “So good they can’t ignore you.” In it the author defends a theory that for a person to feel professionally fulfilled has to have three basic psychological needs met:
Autonomy: The feeling that you have control over your day and that what you do is important. Sometimes we have the feeling that we are not doing what we wanted to do, or that we are not being helpful, but we need to recognize that all work is important to the world.
Competence: The feeling that you are very good at what you do, no matter what you do, do it the best you can. Who works well will always stand out.
Belonging: Feeling that what you do and you belong to something greater than just your work.
Newport suggests that you don’t follow your passion, but find out what skills you can develop. In the book the author presents a study that concluded that the happiest and most involved employees are not those who have been guided by passion, but those who have developed enough to become really good at what they do. What really matters is not finding the right job, but finding out how good you can be at any job. In short:
More important than doing what you love is loving what you do.
You’ll feel great when you’re doing a great job and you’re being recognized. You will end up feeling that you really like what you do. Another thing to remember is that all work is temporary and it is not necessary or even possible to be excited about what you do every minute of every day.
Today I see my work as part of my life. I try to be happy in other areas and not just focus on my professional achievement. Finding what you love is only half the equation. What you take from your work and what you get from the things you love are different things. Your work is mainly for your salary and your contribution to society, and that is what finances the rest of your life.
My tip is focus on the things that bring you joy. Make your family and friends a priority, spend time with yourself, love your hobbies. These small steps may encourage you to make bigger changes, even a career change.
Have you discovered your vocation? Do you do what you love? Comment down here and let me know if you agree with this view. 😉