Can You Really Have a “Do What You Love” Life?

photo by Amit Regev

There’s big talk in the blogosphere and on career advice sites these days that the “Do What You Love” mantra is an elitist sham, a space only the privileged (white, male) few can occupy. As someone who is doing what they love (privileged, not white, not male), I’d like to offer three counter arguments to this idea that you can’t do what you love.

Stop making this about money. We have to get over this idea that you need tons of money to “do what you love”. If you have an expensive love, say, golf or, mud-bogging, then yeah, you will need money for it. But the idea that you can’t live a life you love if you’re not loaded is a life that lacks creativity.

Stop making this about a job. I think folks got it twisted when they heard Steve Jobs’ commencement speech. He didn’t say find a job you love. He said, find work you love. There is a BIG difference. If you make the work that you do about a job, then of course you’re not going to love it.

A job is not work you love. Work you love is about contribution and commitment. It’s what gets you out of bed beyond the need to pay rent and bills. It’s what you show up everyday for, giving your all to something you believe in, with full knowledge that the risks might outweigh the rewards. It’s your relationships, your kids, your life.

A job is a place you show up to and fulfill someone else’s obligations in order to collect a check. Your job should be financing what you love. It doesn’t have to be what you love.

Stop making excuses. I have a friend who is a musician. He could have hustled and sacrificed and dumbed his music down to appeal to a label and make himself mass marketable. But he didn’t. Instead, he’s enjoyed a 20-plus year career as an independent artist, making the music he wants to make on his own time in his own way. In between gigs and recording with other artists, he maintained his livelihood and his other love (basketball) by getting paid to do something else he loves.

This man paid Brooklyn rent making music and walking dogs, part-time. And still had time to play basketball, see shows, hang out with his friends, and love his partner. They just relocated to Argentina to make even more time to do what they both love.

Now, doing what you love does not mean walking dogs or packing up your stuff and moving to Argentina. It means getting creative and finding new ways to think about what is possible for your life and how you want to live it. For some of you, it may just very well mean a high-paying, highly visible job. For others, it may mean a low-key life.

But everyone can and should be doing what they love.

How does your life reflect what you love? What are you making more time for?

One thought on “Can You Really Have a “Do What You Love” Life?

  1. I called in last night to a blogtalk show hosted by a friend of 20 years. The guest was another friend of 20 years. They both spoke on this. The idea that if you do what youb love it doesn’t feel like work – or what we culturally think of as work.

    There was a comment he made about having a 9-5 and watching the clock thinking “I gotta get outta here”. But now he is living his life pursuing what he enjoys. In doing so he can go 18 hours and the time will pass. That happens a lot to folks when they are on vacation, and the reason is the same.

Unfiltered Honesty, Please