You’re Not Supposed to Love What You Do

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me how lucky I was to be doing what I love…

Look, do what you love, love what you do, follow your passion, all of it is terrible advice. It just is.

We often struggle to figure out if we truly love doing something or we just love the idea of it or the rewards we imagine.

And that’s why it gets tricky.

Love What You Do. Do What You Love.

We all know this one, right? It’s one of those short and sweet sentences that sound smart and wise and in time become terrible cliches.

But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Most people will try to find a passion and do it and do it and so on. As long as they are inspired, as long as they love what they do.

But that’s only half of it.

The other half is “love what to do.”

In other words, develop the discipline to enjoy the parts that no one really likes doing. The hard work, the frustration, the countless failures. The parts that are boring.

Example?

Writing and editing. A lot of people loathe editing. Or writing and marketing a book. Or coming up with a pitch to sell a book. Or query letters.

There are parts that are crucial to one’s success that no one will ever clap for. Stuff that you have to do, whether you like it or not.

Of course, you can be a rebel and decide not to do those things, but then you’ll be running at 50% capacity, and it’s hard to climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pocket.

You are not meant to do what you love, because you will always fall in and out of love with what you do.

Yes, I love writing. But at the same time, there are about a thousand different things that I must do that have nothing to do with writing. And sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing. Sometimes I just want to do anything but write.

And, yes, sometimes I want to give up. Just like the 99% of the writers who quit after 3 months of blogging or after 10 e-book sales on Amazon.

But I don’t quit, and I don’t give it more than a moment’s thought.

Why?

Because I am good at it.

I’m not being arrogant. I’m good enough at what I do that people don’t ignore me. I make a living out of it. It’s okay.

Do you know how many bloggers I find on the web who are incredibly passionate about writing but are terrible at it?

Do I read their content, even though they are passionate? Of course not.

Would you choose as your doctor someone who’s passionate about your health and well-being, but never actually went through Med school?

It’s Not About Love, It’s About Skill

What we call passion is just someone who worked on developing a skill until they became kind of good at it. At that point, it makes no sense to give up.

That’s why some writers give up, while others keep writing until someone plants them in the ground.

Almost everybodybelieves they have the talent to succeed at what the professionals make seem so effortless, yet few will ever pay the price that is required of them to reach such levels of mastery.

And it’s kind of ironic, because the masters themselves don’t think that what they are doing is this wonderful thing. It’s just work. It’s their work. And they know they’re good, like really good, because that’s why they’re doing it.

It’s all just work. Backbreaking, mind-numbing work.

When I worked as a waiter, I felt the same way towards the work I had to do. The same way I approach cleaning the house or doing the dishes. Like the type of work I hate.

What makes writing worth it, in my case, is the fact that I’m good at it, and I receive positive feedback. Oh, and the money as well. Sometimes I feel inspired, but sometimes I also feel inspired to do the dishes.

Everything is work. And you fall in and out of love with the work you do, no matter what it is, countless times throughout your life.

The contribution you have, however, that’s different.

You see, I write not because I derive pleasure from the act itself, but from the impact my words have. From the ideas that I express, and the way they are received my those I share those ideas with.

My words are my contribution, and I am more than willing to suffer in order to amplify that contribution.

The work is the same, but the other constant changes. I am happier after the fact than I am, for instance, after doing the dishes.

That’s the only difference between the type of work that exhausts the soul and one that you find meaningful, one that others call passion.

Are You Willing to Pay the Price?

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

William Shakespeare

Everyone wants the beach body, but no one wants to lift heavy weights.

Everyone wants to publish a book, but no one wants to punch the damn keys for six hours every day.

Everyone wants to be a millionaire, but no one wants to put in the long, strenuous work required to build as many income streams as possible.

Everyone wants to be a business owner, but no one wants to assume the responsibility of being in charge.

The thing is that we all want to live exceptional lives. We all want to reach the top of the mountains and gaze contemplatively at the world slowly fading beneath the horizon.

We all want to be comfortable enough financially that we never have to look at the price tag when we go shopping.

Even if you don’t think you do, deep down, you do. You want to be happy, you want to be comfortable, you want your efforts to be recognized by as many people as possible.

Yet, even though we all want to go to heaven, few of us are willing to go through hell to reach it.

And that’s why most people live boring lives riddled with countless daily frustrations that break their hearts.

An Extraordinary Life Requires That You Go the Extra Mile

This means that you need to be willing to do what most aren’t. It means that you have to make choices, and at times, sacrifices. It means you have to lose friends and alienate the people who don’t have your best interests at heart, even though it hurts you. It means that you have to delay gratification. It means you have to build a support system, a group of people who support your ambitions. It means giving up on the daily struggle to focus on the most difficult problem that you can solve.

You won’t ever be able to go the extra mile if you stop to throw rocks at every dog that barks at you.

Think of that whenever you feel inclined to feel jealousy for what the successful are able to do. You only get to see their highlight reel, when behind the scenes there’s this machine of effort and work and time that was put into becoming an overnight success.

That’s the part that people don’t fall in love with. They are not willing to pay the admission price to heaven, which is always having to walk that extra mile through hell.

This is Why You’re Struggling

The other day my girlfriend came home from work quite sad. She wanted to quit her job, go back home to her parents, because life was quite unfair.

She had been working a lot. By a lot, I mean twelve hours every single day, and the pay she received wasn’t what she was expecting.

And I asked her, “Compared to what?”

I remember a time when I, too, felt that life was quite unfair to me. I was working fourteen hours a day to be able to earn enough to make ends meet. I thought the world was stupid, and that no one could see what I was doing, and that they didn’t want to appreciate my work.

Bastards!

The truth is much simpler than that.

The truth is, we don’t get paid for how much we work. We don’t build a successful business by working as much as possible. We don’t even build an audience on a social media platform that way.

We get paid for our contribution, for how much value we add to others, for our willingness to assume responsibility, not just when we should assume it, but also when it’s not our fault.

Those who are extremely successful in life tend to create something that people either want or need, and they usually fix a lot of problems, especially for other people.

“The buck stops here.”

Harry S. Truman kept this sentence as a sign on his desk during his time in the Oval Office.

We often go through life blaming everyone and everything around us: our friends, our family, our neighbors, the economy, the politics…

The truth is that the more we assume responsibility, even when it’s not our fault, the easier life tends to get for us.

Yes, maybe it’s not your fault that someone left you when you most needed them, but it’s your responsibility to heal your heart.

Maybe it’s not your fault that someone does not appreciate the work you do, but it’s your responsibility to either make them appreciate it, or to find someone who does.

Fear and Loathing in the Real World

When we’re young, if we are fortunate, our parents take care of most of our needs. Not only that, but we are often encouraged to do our best, even though our best sucks.

We are rewarded for the simple act of trying.

In the real world, when you become what they call an adult, that’s no longer an option. You are rewarded for your results, not for trying.

Look, growing up is kind of easy. High school is easy. College is easy. Real life begins when you find out, like my girlfriend did, that five years of university brings you nothing more than enough to get by, that no one likes a crybaby, that you get paid for your contribution and not your time, and that there’s just no elevator to success, but there’s one that is going to take you to failure pretty fast.

When we are kids, we cry for our parents to fix our problems. As adults, we no longer have that option, but yet many of still do it.

We fail because we expect things to be easy, but we also fail because we put the blame on someone else.

There’s No Elevator to Success

Odds are, if you’re struggling in any area of your life, whether it’s work, business, love, your blog, or whatever, if you were to quit or leave this moment, it would probably take less than a week for things to be as if you were never there at all.

Why?

Because you haven’t added massive value yet.

Remember a time when you were happy and fulfilled, whether it was your relationship or your job… odds are that you were more than willing to do more.

That’s what the world demands of us on a daily basis.

More.

That we do more, become more, contribute more, love more, become more patient, more grateful, more mindful.

We must assume more and more responsibilities.

If we do not do more, then we are stuck with not enough. It’s as simple as that.

Failure is the default in life, and our unwillingness to assume responsibility means that we never develop the inner fortitude to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Yet, we often try to find the shortcut that will enable us to do less and get more. It’s the type of mindset that often develops during our younger years, when parents and teachers were more than willing to accept us cheating or lying, and even pretending they didn’t know about it.

But in the world of adults that is no longer an option. The game is much more sophisticated, and it’s often this that makes people unhappy.

How Much More Can You Give?

Alexander the Great famously gifted away most of his possessions in Macedonia to his men before embarking on his perilous journey towards becoming one of the greatest conquers in history.

How much more can you give?

Everything.

And then you might even come up with a few ingenious ways to give a bit more than that.

That’s why things are… difficult. That’s why we get paid as little as possible by employers who are certain we are doing our best to work as little as possible.

That’s why we have troubles building lasting relationships, get people to trust our vision, or even struggle to summon up the motivation we need to get stuff done.

Life’s hard because you expect it to be easy.

It sounds like a silly statement, but if you think about it… it’s our desire for comfort, for instant gratification, for our ten-minute ab routine, all of these negative mindsets are making it almost impossible to assume responsibility.

All unhappy people are immature because they aren’t willing to assume responsibility for their lives.

Yes, it sometimes feel like we’re holding the entire world on our shoulders, but the more we do it, the more we realize that there is a reward for what seems to be such a graceless task: always doing more for others, even for those who do nothing for us at all.

We no longer have to struggle. We no longer fear the storms of life, but we welcome them. We are capable of being brave enough to overcome obstacles because we are aware of the fact that it is our responsibility to do so.

When we decide to do more, our lives start to change. Our standards change, because we hold ourselves accountable. We no longer take rejection personally, because we now know it’s only a matter of time before we become so good they can’t ignore us.

Over time, we reap the benefits of doing the hard things first, no questions asked, no whining, no crying. We do what must be done, because it has to be done, and if that’s the nature of this universe, we might as well give our best shot.

“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”

Carl Jung

This means that while other people are out there buying things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, to impress people they don’t even like, you’re going to save and invest your money.

That means that while other people are at the club, you will probably still be at your desk, working.

That means that while other people are on their couch, Netflix and chilling their lives away, you’re busy networking.

If you look at how someone invests their time, energy, and money, you will see where their priorities are.

If you really want to live an extraordinary life, it means that you’re going to have to do the uncomfortable things that other people are not willing to do. It means that you are going to have to step outside your comfort zone on a daily basis, it means you will have to leap and work on building your wings on the way down.

It means you’re going to have to be mentally and emotionally resilient. It means you’re going to have to do a lot of work to become self-aware. It means that you won’t allow yourself the privilege of coming up with any excuses.

The only metric that matters in life is your outcomes. Not your intentions. Not your excuses. Not your effort.

This is what breaks most people. The fact that you might have to give 110% because by going all in you will still fail.


While other people spend the rest of their lives sitting around complaining that no one’s knocking at their front door to tell them that their dreams are going to come true in a couple of weeks, while other people are out every weekend, while other people are busy blaming everyone but themselves, you will be busy paying the price of admission to the life you’ve always wanted.

Because you know that only by doing what they would not are you able to live as they cannot.

Passion literally means to suffer. So does patience. To be passionate and patient in the work that you do means to consciously choose to suffer for work that you believe could be great.

That is all.

Don’t try to find work that you love to do, but rather work on becoming so good at something that your work means something to those around you.

That’s what matters most. Doing something you’re good at and sharing those gifts with the world.

16 Comments

    1. Thank you! Most of us struggle to find this out the hard way and after years of avoiding concrete work. Both passion and skill/hard work can go hand in hand with planning. Only if mainstream media stops lying just because passion is easier to sell. No guts no glory. An important article!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s rather counterproductive. The more you think about it, the more you realize that it’s just setting people up for failure.

      Folks expect to discover some passion, and then everything clicks, and it’s effortless.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think this post could have been two posts, but I admire how you explode the “do what you love” cliche. Your point of view can be extrapolated to any commitment a human makes, whether it is to an occupation, a relationship, or a place. Eventually, idealization will fade, illusions will shatter, and the going will get hard. Then the determination with which one adheres to one’s vision of what one can and should be comes into play. Being excellent is often very lonely and a very dispassionate event.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny you say that, because initially this article was a series of short posts. I decided to compile them into a longer piece, and further explore just how counterproductive this “clever” piece of advice truly is.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome article. Thinking of sacrifices, what I’m willing to let go of. Love the reminders and the quote by Jung. Love this “This means that you need to be willing to do what most aren’t. It means that you have to make choices, and at times, sacrifices.” For me, it’s about finding that thing that my heart really wants to do so much (My one thing) that I’m willing to do all that you said for that. And then, I need these reminders to keep going with it. Thank you for this awesome article.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Also love this piece “Passion literally means to suffer. So does patience. To be passionate and patient in the work that you do means to consciously choose to suffer for work that you believe could be great.” Passion is the thing I’m willing to actually suffer for. Go through the hard parts. Become great at it. And like how you tied it in with patience there. Is it pleasant to be patient? No. Awesome. Again, so much good stuff in there. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This article is truth of life. I recognize so much of it in myself. Personally, I struggled with working hard for things that don’t truly matter to me. The only thing I really, REALLY wanted more than anything else in the universe, took and still takes all my devotion and absolute focus and it’s had and still does pay off for me every day. It is what has made me rich. It is what has alienated “friends” and extended family. No one ever understood why I put all my focus on this one thing and everything else had/has to live in its shade. But it has made me rich, according to what I consider success. It has paid back my sacrifice a billion times and still does every day. For me it was/is having a close/committed/there-for-each-other-no-matter-what/through heaven and hell family life after being brought up in the opposite from a culture with disposable families, rampant disrespect, horrible advice and broken children who become broken adults. For me it was breaking chains of emotional abuse and deep-down personal loneliness and despair.

    Success is different for all of us but, as this brilliant article points out, it’s work and sacrifice. It’s staying when it would be easier to leave. It’s being bored together instead of entertained apart. It’s hearing and acting on the hard truths about yourself. It’s not even taking in the advice of those who chronically fail. It’s learning and sticking with what matters and what works ALL the time.

    Perhaps I’ve applied the lessons of this article in a way that was not intended, but as I read, this was all I could see: where I’ve been, how I got out and why now I am rich … in my home … with a one-time use/non-disposable marriage and sons who are loved, loving, and unbroken and a next generation that will start off as healthier saplings.

    Apply the truths in this article to whatever is most important to you. You will thrive and others will thrive with you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robin,

      Never quite liked the word lesson. I am accidental teacher, if anything. I write in order to better understand myself, yet I find that some of the words I write might help someone else. That is all.

      And thank you for your comment. And, yes, you are right. Success is different for each and every single one of us, but it still requires a lot of work, patience, and sacrifice. Success is just the side-effect of doing hard things well over an extended period of time, even when you want to quit, especially when you want to quit. That is all.

      Liked by 1 person

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