Photo by Mayu Shimizu
I read the following words and every fiber of my heart sang “yes yes yes” with the energy of a little kid bursting out of her seat in class:
“I meet all kinds of people who don’t enjoy what they do. They simply go through their lives getting on with it. They get no great pleasure from what they do. They endure it rather than enjoy it and wait for the weekend. But I also meet people who love what they do and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. If you said to them, ‘Don’t do this anymore,’ they’d wonder what you were talking about. Because it isn’t what they do, it’s who they are. They say, ‘But this is me, you know. It would be foolish for me to abandon this, because it speaks to my most authentic self.’ And it’s not true of enough people.” – Ken Robinson, in one of his TED talks
This theme, this question, of why some people do work they love, and why others don’t, is one that obsesses me. Clearly, it takes a certain amount of privilege to even be able to contemplate getting fulfillment from our work beyond a paycheck. I am absolutely aware of this. Still, I’d really like to explore: For those who are privileged enough to choose a career with some consideration of personal fulfillment…why do some people do work they love, and others not?
Last year New York Magazine published a story about the rise of stay-at-home moms in a certain hipster demographic, and nowhere in the article did the writer acknowledge that maybe one driver of this trend was that these women hated their jobs outside the home…or, at least, found no fulfillment from them. I wrote about this here on my blog, and said:
“Think about it: How many people do you know who like their work, let alone love it it? How many of your friends would say their work is aligned with their values, allows them to fulfill their unique purpose in the world, and also compensates them fairly?
If you love your work — if your work is your calling — then balancing it with the rest of your life isn’t such a chore. In fact, the very phrase, “work/life balance,” is so telling, in that it defines work as a category separate from life.” (read more)
Do you love your work? If so…how did you find your path? Please tell me in the comments below. We need to share more of these stories, so young people know it’s not just possible, but also critical, to love what you do. Why is it critical? Because, as I’ve quoted before and will undoubtedly quote a million times more:
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it — because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
So tell me: Do you love your work? If so, how did you find your path — and what advice would you offer young people trying to find their way to work they love?