“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s a popular phrase, one that we’ve all heard countless times. However, after some consideration, I’ve found it to be not only untrue, but also misleading. Many people live by this credo, but in my experience doing what you love can be hard work. Sometimes you don’t want to do it, but it’s how you feel at the end of the day that counts.
I’ve struggled with trying to figure out what it is that I love to do. That might seem silly. It should be obvious right? Try out a bunch of stuff, see what you like to do, and do it. But it’s not that simple. I’ve fallen in and out of love with writing many times in my life. At least, that’s what I thought was happening. My desire to sit down and write would come in waves. For a week or two I’d be inspired; full of good ideas and enthusiasm. Then that enthusiasm would wane and eventually die out and I’d stop. I wouldn’t pick up writing again for weeks or months. Life got in the way, other things seemed more important.
I do love to write. It’s not always easy and it sure as hell doesn’t always come naturally, but I love it. You know what’s easy? Online shoe shopping. Scrolling through my facebook newsfeed. Taking buzzfeed quizzes. Those things are easy and are often the distractions that come about when I do sit down to write. Some people might even say that they love to do those things. These might be fun distractions, but are they rewarding? Hell no.
The reason why the phrase “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” is misleading is because sometimes, you will hate what you love to do. Sometimes it really is work. I’ll even go out on a limb here and say that for some people, most of the time it really is work. I think that we all go through phases where our view on this differs depending on what’s going on in our lives. But at the end of a day when I got some solid writing done, I feel like I accomplished something real and meaningful.
After I graduated from college, I took the first job that was offered to me. I was just grateful to have a job and be able to support myself. I sat in a cubicle from eight-thirty to five o’clock, five days a week, every week for a year. I worked hard all day and often left the office tired, but not fulfilled. I didn’t feel accomplished at the end of the day because I wasn’t doing something that I loved or believed in. That’s the difference. Even on days when I only have an hour or two to sit down and work on my writing, I still feel accomplished. Two hours. That’s it. The same idea is applicable to other aspects of life.
I picked up running in college and love to run, but do I wake up and want to run a 10k every morning? Hell to the no because you know what’s a lot easier than running a 10k? Sitting on the couch streaming Netflix with a bag of potato chips. But do I feel rewarded or accomplished after I do that? No, I feel like a sack of shit. And I feel greasy. Running isn’t always easy, but when I finally get myself out there and do it, I feel amazing. I never finish a run and think “Hmm, wish I wouldn’t have done that.”
I’m not saying that you should hate what you’re doing while you’re doing it. The majority of the time, once I start writing I get lost in the writing “zone” and suddenly three hours have gone by and I didn’t even realize it. The same goes with running: even if that first mile is a struggle, once I get into my groove, I feel great. But it’s not always like that. There are days when you will struggle and that’s just life. People often strive for simplicity and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there is a bigger picture that often gets overlooked.
Just because you love something does not mean you’re going to love it day in and day out. There will be days when you hate it. There will be days when the very thought of having to do it fills you with dread. But at the end of the day, if you feel satisfied and happy about what you’ve accomplished, then that’s all that really matters.
It takes practice too. The more you do something, the better you’ll get at doing it and the easier it will become to do it. Routine is powerful and implementing it in your life can bring about some pretty amazing changes. So start small. Find something you’re passionate about and work at it. Whether it’s basket weaving or baking or web design. Put some real effort in and know that there will be days when you hate it, but don’t let that stop you.
Don’t let that trick you into thinking that you’re not passionate because passion is about pushing through the tough times. Passion is about knowing that you’re on the right path, even if it doesn’t always seem like it. Even if it’s hard. Life is hard, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a hell of a lot of fun.