Is it bad career advice to be told 'do what you love?'
This is an interesting one because I've always listened [and tried to adhere to] this strategy for most of my adult life.
I remember one of my design lecturers saying yeeeeeeears ago, 'do what you love and the money will follow', and I respected him, listened to him, and set about following his worldly advice like the obedient, doting lil' student I was 😇
But what if it was bad advice? What if it's a strategy that a) sends you down the wrong path, or b) is a hopeless one with no real method to you earning a living from it?
I mentioned a career coach called Penelope Trunk in a post a few weeks back, and I've found her writing angle to be quite provocative on most things – and apparently her article, doing what you love IS bad career advice is no exception! Have a read and let me know what you think.
So is it bad advice?
I agree with what Trunk's saying in the fact that yes, none of us loves just one thing, and you do need to be selective and/or strategic when choosing one of the many things you love to become a focus for your career – i.e., she loves writing, and she loves sex, but she wouldn't for a moment entertain the idea of having sex as her career. Whatever you choose needs to, of course, be a viable business or career path. (I ❤️️ getting my daughter's stubborn bogies sorted 😍 But as a business? Not so much).
But other than that, I have to totally disagree with her overall point tbh, because I think she glaringly contradicts herself. Fortunately for Trunk, writing comes naturally to her, it feels effortless and she's always been able to do it. She loves it and has made a career out of it because she loves it. It's who she is. 'Do what you love' would be poor career advice for her, basically because she didn't need career advice in the first place. She already knew, and was doing, what she loved from day dot.
We don't need to get paid to do what we love. We need to do what we love and get paid. It's very different. Yes, Trunk already knew, and was doing, what she loved from day dot. But she's not most people. Most people aren't doing what they love. In fact in the UK alone, less than half of Brits like what they do for a living. Which means, most people don't. Some people might find time to do what they love as a little side hobby or side hustle, but a lot of people don't even do that. They try and 'get through' their work day as best they can, and focus on how they can live life through their evenings, weekends, holidays and time off instead. Maybe even focusing on how they can finally start living when they retire (this is BONKERS to me btw!) Most people need a bit of help, advice and guidance to narrow down what they want from their life and career.
I'm interested to know where you sit on this spectrum though 🤔 are you completely content in a career that you love already? Or are you happy in ignorant bliss that your no-pressure job's just something from 9-5, and your own time is then 100% yours? Or are you desperately trying to nail down what it is that you love, find your purpose and know what you should do as a career? Comment below or on my Instagram 'cause I'd genuinely love to know where you're at 🙏🏻
If you sit in the latter zone, it sounds like you could do with a bit of love and support 💋 I got you boo. And relax, you're gonna be grand. Rest assured that you can totally be loving your career way more than you are right now, you've just got a bit of foundational work to do first, so you can start doing the buildy-career bit next.
So how do you find out what it is that you love? 🤔
It's a process that's actually quite simple if you open up and let your imagination do its thing, but the more you overthink it and try and rationalise stuff, the harder a task it's gonna be. You've been warned 😉
The first and most important thing to remember is that you're here on this planet to try new stuff, to experiment, to make mistakes, to find what turns you on and turns you off – you've basically gotta be in it to win it and allow yourself to dream and live wildly. You might even try out a route of 'doing what you love' and wanna change your mind to another thing you love further down the line. Fine! (and is exactly what I've done for years) None of this watching-from-the-sidelines, or throwing-excuses-as-to-why-you-can't-take-part malarkey anymore. You've. gotta. be. all. in. I'm not gonna let you be a spectator.
But... how do you 'start living' and be 'all in'?
I'll tell you! Grab a pen and paper, and ask yourself these few questions to get started;
What do I get excited about?
What do you find yourself able to talk about for hours on end, almost until you're completely boring someone to tears about it? Is it the latest hip hop artists on Spotify? The new fashion trend filling up listings on asos.com? Write it all down. Whatever it is. No answers are too obscure, wacky or crazy. In fact, the more out-there the better 👍🏻 plenty of time for sensible later.
What do people naturally ask me for?
What stuff can you pretty much do with your hands tied behind your back? What do your nearest and dearest rely on you for? What do they instinctively come to you for help with? Your mates actually know a lot more about what makes you tick than you realise. Use and abuse them here and even get them rooting through old texts and emails if you like! 😂 Note down all the things you can think of, even the seemingly barmy things.
What do I enjoy so much, that if money were no object, I'd probably even do it for free?
K, so there's the obvious sofa-surfing, pyjama-wearing, chocolate-gorging activities that we all do for free anyway 😇 but give yourself a lil more credit and think a little bigger than your vegetative state for today. Think about the odd occasion where you may have enjoyed your job, even just a teeny bit of it – note down what part of it got you all fired up and motivated and focused.
After writing down the answers to these three questions, see if you can spot any common themes. Note those down too.
When was the last time I tried something new, just for me?
These can be classes or courses, internships or even hobbies. It just needs to be a new experience that gets your brain cylinders pumping. If you can't remember any new stuff, jot down some ideas of what you could try out by the end of the week. Why am I asking you this? Basically because it's super-easy to stay stuck in the same place and mindset when you're never introducing yourself to new things. You can't expect anything to change when you're approaching a situation with the same strategy and brain power every time. When you throw some new stuff into the mix, you've got some new experiences stimulating your mind, helping you see things from a different perspective. Use them.
Do I actually know what I love to do, but I'm just too afraid to go get it?
This one's a lil' different, and I need your honesty cap on please ta. Maybe you have some kind of 'pipe dream' that makes your heart flutter when you think about living it out. Maybe you find yourself slipping into the daydream of living this kind of life when your regular work days particularly suck. Maybe you know yourself better than you think. If this is you, write this far-fetched dream down and consider it becoming real. I promise you, it's not impossible.
So by now you should have some kind of list, however big or small, silly or sensible, that should hopefully start your cogs whirring. If you'd love to take things a step further and actually change some stuff in your life; maybe even put some shape, context and real-life action into play, my 5-day life plan mini-course sounds like it might be right up your street. It's 100% free and always will be, and you can return to it and re-do it as many times as you want or need as your journey evolves. Because it will, and that's a good thing!
👇🏻 You can get started right here.
So all in all, I think 'do what you love' is the furthest from bad advice. Conversely, I think it's one of the best bits of advice of all time (as much as it probably needs a new spin from being overused so much). 😂 In fact I think it might even transcend the term 'advice', and should be upgraded to a 'way of life' we should all be abiding to instead! Especially in the times we live in now when we can earn a crust doing pretty much anything, anywhere in the world. If we're prepared to put in the graft to make it work, nothing is impossible. I mean, I came across a dog yoga instructor yesterday honey. Yep. Dog yoga. Google it. I'm talking real life sh*t here.
I'm curious to hear your thoughts though on this whole topic, what do you think? 🤔 Are you doing what you love?