“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.”
― Steve Jobs
As kids, we are taught to keep work time and play time separate. My mom used to say, “If you work for two hours, you can play for an hour”. Your parent(s) probably said something similar to you too. If not, you’re weird. Jk. :)
We are made to believe that work and play are opposites. We were trained to not have fun while we work, because there is a separate time for that and you have to earn the right to have fun.
As we grow older, you are told that if you do what you like, you tend to do it well. In other words, you do well what you like. Or at least pretend to like. Because if you do your work well (by liking it), you get to go home early and have fun.
Why do what you love?
There are thousands of students in your school or hundreds in your company. What is it that separates you from them? Unless you hold a VP or C-level executive, nothing much.
Doing what you love doesn’t feel like a job or a commitment, but a journey that you enjoy. No one has to convince you why you should continue. You find your own reasons. It all just comes down to fulfillment and accomplishment.
But then, reality hits. You can either:
a) do what you don’t love, and make enough money to do what you love on the side. Or, b) do what you love and maybe struggle with money. Or, c) don’t do what you love and go by just fine financially and socially.
Most students in school and most people in the industry go for c) because it’s safe and comfortable. Almost no one goes with b) because naturally it’s not practical. Some people go with a).
Here’s why a) is the best choice for me and should be for many others who are reading this:
- You give yourself time to explore what you really love. You can try different things on the side without being “all-in” in a subset of the things.
- You climb the ladder for your full-time commitment (higher GPA, promotions etc) in the mean time so when you are ready to ditch a) for b), you have enough backing both socially and financially.
- It’s doesn’t hurt as much even if you fail at doing what you love. Your fallback is the next thing you start exploring.
- “Leap and a net will appear” is BS. You have to build the net yourself.
- Not everyone has the ability to jump the ship to take a massive risk. Maybe you have a family that depends on you, or you live paycheck-to-paycheck. So it’s important to build a foundation for the next adventure before you quit the current one.
Like most things in life, this is all easier said than done. I know of a lot of my friends who expressed some barriers to entry. Specifically,
- This approach requires doing more work than what they are paid for. Imagine working 8-10 hours a day, only to come back home to continue working, except without getting paid for it (in the short term).
- It requires the ability to falling and standing up again to continue the race - a trait hard to learn or to teach.
- Finding what you love is neither easy not fast. It requires continuous self-introspection, testing and being true to yourself.
Whatever route you choose, remember, it will be hard; it’s hard for everyone. Just start with what you have, and don’t complain about what you don’t. The American Dream only comes true if you are willing to work hard, embrace uncertainty of life and learn.
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.”